Characteristics of Catalpa

Also called "Catawba," Catalpa wood is light, strong, attractive, and easy to work. February 15, 2009

I saw mostly white pine and other eastern wood found here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. I have the opportunity to get some catalpa logs around 30 inches at the butt. I have never sawed this type wood before. My question is, "is it worth my time to fool with sawing it and what is this wood best suited for"?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor R:
By all means saw it. It saws like a dream, and dries really easily. It is light weight, but very strong. It has a grain that is very similar to ash, but a deep brown color. Wood carvers really like it, so if you have that market, cut some 16/4. Catalpa has a strong tendency for high chatoyance, or light reflectivity. Move a piece of stock around in the sunlight and you will watch the grain jump around. I love the stuff if you couldn't tell. It’s great for furniture making as well as the carving, just on the soft side. I have never cut one that didn't have some hollow though.

From contributor K:
It also has good rot resistance, so is a good wood for outdoor use. It smells like creosote and makes my nose itch. Most around here have really spiral grain.

From contributor T:
I am not sure how straight your logs are, but I have come across a few very nice clean and clear catalpa logs. It saws nicely, a little on the soft side, I would think just a bit harder than butternut, but softer than ash. It seems to be known for a musical tone wood.

From the original questioner:
Thank you for the responses and I will try to post a picture soon. The trees are still standing at a customer’s location and it may be a couple days before I get by there. It sounds like I will be getting a good species of wood. Thanks again for your help.