A Poplar Choice for Surfboards

31 . 05 . 13

Poplar is a popular choice when we ask customers which hardwoods they would like to have laid up into the deck and bottom skins of their surfboards.  As a timber it is relatively light and strong and it has a lovely straight, predictable, grain to work with.  Poplar is very light in colour and looks good when laid up alongside Western Red Cedar, but it looks particularly good when used in combination with walnut for an accent strip – the almost white colour of the poplar contrasting strongly with the rich, dark brown of the walnut.

Poplars are most commonly seen planted in ruler straight rows in large plantations, or lining roads (particularly in France) and their Latin name “tremula” refers to way that their leaves tremble and flutter in even the slightest breeze.  In the UK poplars were originally grown to be turned into matches, however with the invention and popularity of lighters their popularity as a harvestable tree declined.  The timber that we source from Woodstock (our local hardwood flooring company whose offcuts we utilise) is actually tulipwood, a stronger and heavier pale hardwood from a different genus of tree which is commonly sold as poplar and is used for cabinet and furniture making.  Tulipwood is also sometimes called canoewood, referring to the trees use for the construction of dugout canoes by Eastern Native Americans who found it’s close grain and large trunk diameter perfect for their vessels, just as we find it perfect for use in our hollow wooden surfboards.

This 6’4″ Woodburner was built by Biff in our February “Build-Your-Own” workshop week and features poplar in the centre of the deck and bottom skins, sandwiched by thin, dark, strips of walnut.  The straight grain pattern can be seen here and looks particularly good when book-matched either side of the surfboard’s centre line.

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