December 14, 2022
If you intend to use Royal Paulownia for your project, it will be best to know its inherent qualities and characteristics. This way, you can determine if this wood species is best suited for your project. And speaking of Royal Paulownia, you might ask about what type of wood it is.
The name, Royal Paulownia, got derived from a Royal name. It got named after the Russian Queen, Anna Pavlova (1795-1865). It also gets called Princess Tree or Paulownia. This wood is best for applications that require a lightweight material with proportionate strength. Other applications of this wood include its use for making “koto,” a musical instrument in Japan, and other household artifacts and items.
What is Royal Paulownia Wood?
Paulownia has the scientific name Paulownia tomentosa, and it proliferates in Eastern Asia. It got introduced in 1844 to North America from Asia and Europe. Its genus is Paulownia and has around 17 species. It is also under the family Pualowniaceae of the order of Lamiales.
Previously, it got sourced out for its ornamental looks. Besides, its fruits got once used for packaging goods. However, authorities tag it as an invasive tree in the United States, though it never got regarded as such in Europe.
Properties and Characteristics of Royal Paulownia Wood
Royal Paulownia wood comes from a deciduous tree, which sheds its leaves during autumn. Thus, it is hardwood. It has a Janka Hardness rating of 300 lbf. This hardwood is the world’s fastest-growing hardwood tree. Moreover, its heartwood exhibits a pale greyish-brown color with tinges of a purple and reddish hue. On the other hand, its sapwood sports a pale white shade, and the boundary between the sapwood and heartwood is not well delineated.
Paulownia wood features a straight grain with uneven and coarse texture. It has enormous pores, which produce its porous striped appearance. Moreover, its end grain is ring-porous with semi-ring porous at times. You will also find three to five rows of huge earlywood pores and small-to-large latewood pores. Besides, you will find medium-to-narrow rays that you can see even without using any magnifying lens. These rays also have regular spacing.
The Royal Paulownia wood is not insect-resistant. It shows, however, a decent resistance to weathering and decay. Besides, it has a low percentage of shrinkage, with only 2.2% shrinkage radially and 4% tangentially when dried or oven dried. Thus, you can expect this wood to be quite stable despite the vicissitudes of weather.
Due to its high level of stability, you don’t really need to kiln-dry this wood. Moreover, you can work with this wood right after air-drying it for as little as one month.
Advantages of Using Paulownia Wood
Aside from knowing the succinct qualities and characteristics of the Royal Paulownia Wood, it will also help if you know the advantages of its use. This way, you can determine if it is the best wood for your future woodworking project:
Resistance to Decay and Insect
One characteristic you would love about Royal Paulownia is its high level of resistance to decay. It also exhibits a certain level of resistance to insect attacks. Yet, despite these properties, treating this wood when you use it outdoors will be best. This way, you can prolong its lifespan outdoors.
One significant upside of the use of this wood is its being incredibly light. If you use it for making furniture, you can expect the finished furniture to be lightweight and easy to carry around. Thus, this wood allows you to make excellent furniture sans the concomitant weight of hardwood.
Royal Paulownia is about half the pine’s weight. Besides, if your project requires wood with enough strength but less weight, this wood is a perfect choice.
High Level of Stability
As mentioned above, Paulownia wood is highly stable. Its shrinkage percentage is 2.2% radially and 4% tangentially when dried. As such, its shrinkage percentage is relatively manageable. You also don’t need to kiln-dry this wood; you can use it right after air-drying it.
For this reason, this wood doesn’t warp much, even if exposed to highly humid conditions. It also wouldn’t bend or twist. Moreover, its dimensional stability is one of its remarkable qualities.
Disadvantages of Using Royal Paulownia
Knowing the advantages of using Royal Paulownia will help you determine if it is the appropriate wood for your project. Yet, it will also help if you know the following disadvantages of its use:
It Easily Dents
Since Royal Paulownia is soft, it also dents quickly. It might be an advantage if you intend to carve this wood. But I consider this characteristic a disadvantage because its wood fibers would dent soon under the slightest impact.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean this wood would break when subjected to such impact. What I mean is that it will scratch and dent with ease, making it look not looking good soon.
It Comes with High Tannin Content
Royal Paulownia wood contains high tannin levels, which can be good because tannin is a compound that prevents fungi and moss from thriving on the tree’s bark. But if it has too much tannin, it will bleed out even after the wood has been processed.
Hence, it will be best to seal this wood to keep this wood from bleeding. Unless you seal this wood, its tannin content will ooze out of its finish, producing stains across the wood’s surface.
This Tree Species is Invasive
Since the Royal Paulownia tree is quite a fast-growing tree species, it can be very invasive. Thus, some experts classify it as invasive in the United States. It can hoard nutrients intended for the other garden plants if you plant this tree near other trees or the garden. Besides, if you plant it near a building, it could potentially damage the foundations of that building.
Applications and Uses of Royal Paulownia Wood
As mentioned above, the Royal Paulownia wood is perfect for projects that require lightweight wood with high strength. Thus, this wood is ideal for making rice bowls, furniture, and water sports materials. It also gets used for packaging, making wooden boxes, wood shavings, and many other handicrafts.
You will also find this wood used for wooden surfboards. Since it doesn’t readily absorb salt water, it is a go-to material for many watersports pieces of equipment. Other applications of Paulownia include its use as structural poles, veneers, and moldings.
Frequently Asked Questions on Royal Paulownia
Aside from knowing the properties, pros and cons, and applications of this wood, it will also help if you are cognizant of the following FAQs about Royal Paulownia wood, for they might also be the questions playing on in your mind:
Is Royal Paulownia Hard?
The Royal Paulownia exhibits a high strength-weight ratio. Its average weight when dried is 18 lbs/ft³ (280 kg/m³), and its specific gravity is .25 and .28. So, if you view its strength relative to its weight, the ratio is high compared to other hardwoods. Besides, it has a high ignition point at 420°F.
Is Paulownia Wood Waterproof?
Well, Royal Paulownia is not a waterproof wood, for it can absorb water and moisture. Yet, unlike other wood types, it doesn’t absorb much water and humidity. It also exhibits a high level of resistance to decay and insect. But it is definitely not waterproof.
After reading this post, you can determine if the Royal Paulownia wood is the best wood for your use. Paulownia is sustainable, and there are many plantations of this wood. Besides, it grows fast, and thus, its use is sustainable. It is also perfect for many specific applications.
With proper pruning, Paulownia can produce a straight cylindrical pole sans any side branches up to 18-foot long. Thus, it is perfect for use as pole logs. You can also use it as veneer and moldings. Manufacturers also use its pulp for making paper.
Liam is a 37-year-old woodworker and interior designer who loves to make every furniture project an art piece. He is very experienced in furniture design and woodworking project planning.