Chainsaw Bogging Down in Poplar

Is it a wood problem, or a chainsaw problem? February 3, 2011

I am taking down three good-sized poplars on my lot in Maine. They are 24" to 30" at the base. I'm planning on having them sawn up with a pile of eastern white pine and red oak I have accumulating. I have two of them down, and I'm finding that they are really hard to cut with a chainsaw. It seems like the wood fibers don't cut completely clean and expand back into the cut, which grabs the chain, especially when the top of the bar gets below the top of the cut. I've had to cut slices through the bigger ends to get through the log.

Has anyone else experienced this problem? I'm concerned that the sawyer will have the same problem with his saw when he tries to cut boards. I'm saying it's poplar from the wood and leaf appearance, it could be a similar species.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor E:
I have sawed a lot of poplar, sounds like it is more of a chainsaw problem than a wood problem.

From contributor H:
I agree with the previous poster. Poplar cuts like butter if your saw is sharp and in good shape.

From the original questioner:
I cut some pine the same day with no issues. The saw cuts through poplar pieces smaller than the width of the chain saw blade without trouble, and through the first three inches of any other cut, it's when the blade gets completely embedded it bogs down. I will sharpen up and try again though.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
If the saw is dull, the teeth will not cut the fibers but will push them away. Then these fibers will spring back and get the problem you experienced. It happens mainly with aspen poplar. Sharpen properly and you will have no problem. The same applies with a sawmill.

From contributor N:
It may be cottonwood. Some cottonwood trees look very similar to poplar. I have heard some people call cottonwood, silver poplar. Cottonwood has the tendency to make a saw do what you said. It has fuzzy fibers that spring back, and can choke a saw, even a big one. I don't know if that's it or not, hopefully it is poplar, and you can get it to cut after you work on your saw.

From contributor B:
More than likely itís white poplar. When sawing the fibers tear and pull out, then wrap around the gullet of the saw blade. This will cause the blade to wonder and dive. My experience was to add extra solution to the blade, and not excess water, to keep the fibers from adhering to the blade.

From contributor T:
Sounds like saw chain is not sharpened the same on each side, or you have hit metal or a rock on one side. It also might help to dress your bar. Sometimes it gets worn more on one side than other. I have never had a problem cutting poplar. It should cut like cheese if your saw is set up right.

From the original questioner:
Well, sharpening did help, but the fibers do still tear a little and close off after the chain goes by. Reading some other posts and looking at the color of the wood after a few days, I think these are basswood. Itís still a nice-looking light wood that'll make good trim material.