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Thread: Poplar

  1. #1
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    Poplar

    I've not used much Poplar in my time woodworking, outside some trim that was going to be painted. I've seen some folks use it as a secondary wood for casework and such. I've been watching a YouTube channel from Engels Coach Shop where wagons and coaches are restored or built from scratch, and in his current project (Chuckwagon) he uses Poplar for the wagon box, pan boot, and seat. With a tinted oil finish it really looks nice. In my experience it's easy to work with too. Any Creekers using Poplar as a primary wood for unpainted projects?
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  2. #2
    Used it for drawers on a set of kitchen cabinets a few years ago . Planed it down to 5/8 & used a drawer lock joint on corners. Was very easy to work with and looked good with several coats of water based laquer

  3. #3
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    We use it for millwork fairly often. It takes stain really well, it's what we use when matching a specific color or matching some other millwork. You can add faux grain, but usually that's not necessary, and usually when we use it the customer has requested a dark color. The "beams" in this ceiling we did are poplar, the field is pine.

    LOG.jpg
    Last edited by Steve Rozmiarek; 08-06-2022 at 9:25 AM.

  4. #4
    It's inexpensive, easily worked,reasonably stable, available in long, clear cuttings and is readily stained. Not that appealing to my eye as a primary wood without disguise. I would never use poplar for exterior work.

  5. #5
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    I made a little table for my garage out of poplar, with a maple top. I painted the main body but left the slats for the bottom shelf unpainted. There is a lot of color variation, but I like the look in this situation. I feel like the color variation in poplar is the trickiest thing. In some cases it can look good, but in others it could get busy.

    E0E6A937-C930-449B-8240-26FDB98E3878.jpeg

  6. #6
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    Rob,

    I assume you mean Yellow Poplar/Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) instead of "True" Poplar (Poplus spp). You might want to make that clear to avoid confusion.

    Good info here: https://www.wood-database.com/wood-a...en-whats-what/
    Yellow poplar is commonly used for furniture, both exposed and as hidden structure. It's relatively strong and inexpensive, at least on this end of the country. I've cut a bunch on my sawmill and used it unfinished for shelves and utility things. It was widely used in the US over history.

    The SouthEast is overflowing with y.poplar trees - I have some over 3' in diameter. You can expect green y.poplar to dry quickly if you buy it from a sawmill. Left unprotected, for example, in an open shed or barn loft, it will attract powder post beetles.

    The figure can vary. If you buy from where you can pick through it you can find some nice stuff. Color varies from white to several darker interesting colors.
    Some good info here: https://www.wood-database.com/yellow-poplar/
    Scroll down this page to see color and figure variation: http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/person...ics/poplar.htm

    I also use it in woodturning, unpainted. Some people look down on y.poplar but I think it's great for many things. It has fine, straight grain, easy to work. This is a Beads of Courage box I turned from y,poplar from a big block I cut and dried. This piece doesn't have much color.



    JKJ

  7. #7
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    I've used a couple thousand board feet of Yellow (Tulip) poplar over the years...it was harvested off our previous property and milled on-site. It's one of the most used hardwoods in the furniture industry and is also used extensively for millwork, especially custom millwork, in the residential building trade. (mostly in custom home, not cookie cutter developments) Contrary to the myth that one must paint it, it's a beautiful wood when used "as wood". It takes dye well and can even mimic other closed grained woods when finished well. Some folks cite the greenish hue of fresh cut tulip poplar, but that fades quickly to a nice brown with UV and air exposure. It's not as hard as soft maple, but harder than white pine and many other softwoods. I like working with it, including the pleasant odor when it's being cut.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    , including the pleasant odor when it's being cut.
    I saw someone describing it as cat urine smell on here once, but I think he must have had a stack of lumber that was infested with cats because I've never come across it. I like the smell too.

  9. #9
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    Although it technically a hardwood, it is rather soft -- almost like a softwood.

  10. #10
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    Another vote for enjoying using poplar. I have found it to be very pretty (left clear or tinted), it easy to work with, and the pricing is attractive.

    I'm at a stage of the learning curve where using poplar allows me a bit more bravery to try new skills while working towards a finished project. Increasingly (but not always), the attempts work, and I'm on my way (rather than test-work with pine first)... and when I fail, the budget hasn't been killed.

    Also, for my very small side business... my clients are tending to be colleagues and coworkers, many of whom are making their first step into buying custom furniture (rather than big chain purchase)... as such, when presented options and pricing, they have been leaning towards poplar.

    Some recent examples:

    Dining chairs 009.jpgdining bench 7.jpgpine top table 4.jpg

    And this one used poplar for base, but ash for top
    ash top table 1.jpg
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  11. #11
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    This dresser is made of Yellow (Tulip) poplar.
    Copy of IMG_7635 (Large).JPGProjects_0055.jpg
    The first coat of paint felt like 150 grit sandpaper, but a light 220 grit sanding took care of that along with two more coats of paint. The dresser is stil in use and the owner is now 12. Incidentally the changing table top was removeable, leaving a nice flat top.

    I also use polar for the sides and back of all the drawer boxes I make.
    Last edited by Lee Schierer; 08-07-2022 at 9:25 AM.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post
    Rob,

    I assume you mean Yellow Poplar/Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) instead of "True" Poplar (Poplus spp). You might want to make that clear to avoid confusion....


    JKJ

    Good point. In the videos I'm watching it's identified as yellow poplar. The color variations are fine for my needs at present. My goal is to improve my joinery skills making a few storage boxes, a saw till, and and some other tool organizers for the shop. Poplar will be perfect. It will especially be nice after all the red oak I typically use.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Rozmiarek View Post
    I saw someone describing it as cat urine smell on here once, but I think he must have had a stack of lumber that was infested with cats because I've never come across it. I like the smell too.
    That would be elm in my experience. Yellow poplar doesn't smell like that to me in any way, shape or form.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Rozmiarek View Post
    I saw someone describing it as cat urine smell on here once, but I think he must have had a stack of lumber that was infested with cats because I've never come across it. I like the smell too.
    I thought I read that elm was like that. I found neither y. polpar nor elm objectionable. Maybe with all the animals here Iím desensitized.

  15. #15
    smell is fine at least compared to some I make. Not as nice as Pine or Cherry but not a fraud like some Padouk or some others that smell nice for a few minutes then you realize its evil. Odd time with poplar you will get a board that has an unhappy childhood but not many.

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