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SctDad

Best type of wood for totem pole???

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jblake

 

Like I said in a previous post, this is a personal project, not something that I am going to be doing with all of the Cubs. There may only be one working on it with me and that would be my sons. I am looking to do some side projects.

 

Plus the pole will be displayed inside. I only want it about 6 - 8 feet tall.

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The pine power poles are treated with preservative throughout (often creosote) and sometimes with tar below ground.

 

But since this is going to be indoors all that stuff is academic. In that case I'd go with the tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) as my top choice, not the hard, heavy, grainy oak. The poplar is reasonably soft, workable, reasonably fine grained, favorite for uphostered furniture like couches (thus demonstrating strength under ample American butts), and if you keep it dry, it will last a very long time. Moreover, once dried, it's lightweight. But it is kind of brittle so be careful - it splits really easily. You should be able to find a big log nearly anywhere around you for cheap, maybe even for free. It's practically a weed.

Where are you located, if you're close to Lincoln County I'll let you have one of my trees.

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I saw the inside comment, so yes, a nice soft, straight piece would do just fine.

 

If it was going to be outside, contact the power companies, they replace old poles all the time and the older ones aren't all that bad. After a ice storm, tornado, hurricane, etc. they have plenty of short pieces laying around probably for free. One break in a 30' pole will leave a nice 10' totem left over.

 

Stosh

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The use of telephone poles should never be considered as they are pressure treated with chromated copper arsenate, a carcinogenic. Any process which produces dust such as cutting, sanding, or sawing will require the wearing of an EPA approve dust mask respirator. Area clean up, contaminated tools and clothing, and waste material removal are other factors to consider when working with these poles.

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I'll remember that the next time we have an Eagle project that builds an observation deck at the local nature preserve, or puts up a pavilion in the park, or makes bleachers at the local ball diamond, cuts railroad ties for steps on a nature trail, or... All these use treated wood as well.

 

Stosh

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Stosh,

 

You may laugh, but our district Eagle board will not approve projects that have the Scouts working with any wood that has been treated with arsenic. We did have one such project approved on the condition that only adults would work with that wood.

 

The industry is phasing out the arsenic. The current wood treatments use other types of chemical preservatives.

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I'll remember that the next time we have an Eagle project that builds an observation deck at the local nature preserve, or puts up a pavilion in the park, or makes bleachers at the local ball diamond, cuts railroad ties for steps on a nature trail, or... All these use treated wood as well. Stosh...

 

These woods are not a problem, if the user knows what precautions are needed to be followed. As I see it a little homework,will go a long way to protect the long term health of our Scouts. Here's a read....

 

http://www.cpsc.gov/phth/ccafact.html

 

 

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Also be on the watch for treated wood at campsites -- typicaly state parks -- were there may be construction going on. I'm not talking major either, picnic tables, shealters railing, etc.

Had some of my scouts taking scrap ends from construction and burning in their fires. They thought the multicolored flames were neat.

 

Had fun removing then from the fire, drowning them (the wood)and returning them to the scrap wood pile. Had no idea what nasties were released into the air.

 

If you have to treat it for this propose wait till carved.

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Although totem poles are specific to the Northwest, the Carolina's and Virginia Algonquins had effigy poles also as part of their culture....

 

John White's circa 1584 Weapemeoc Green Corn celebration

 

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_icVv32o1A58/SnPLM4_pVnI/AAAAAAAABm8/6Ve4Jt6Ar8Y/s400/JohnWhite_s_DanceCircle-600x462.jpg

 

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_icVv32o1A58/SnPDObnWl4I/AAAAAAAABmk/og3cOgQzWrw/s400/DSCN1845.JPG

 

 

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I would pick an easy to carve wood over matching what was used 500 years ago.

 

From a wood working perspective pine wouldn't be my first or second choice.

 

Oak would be too hard.

 

I wood ppick a soft wood. I like cypress and use it for a lot of wood working but have not carved it.

 

I would start with Ceder. Get a rough cut 2x4 from Lowe's or HD and see how it carves. Don't have a 12" dia. cedar pole just glue several pieces together. I would plane or sand the edges to be glued. White glue usually dries clearer than yellow glues. If you think one day it might be moved outside use an outdoor glue like Ttebond II.

 

Sounds like a really cool project.

 

 

 

 

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