Baltic birch vs. Poplar for Bathroom Cabinet

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I am building a built-in painted cabinet for one of our bathrooms (which includes a shower).
I am planning on using poplar for the face frames but was wondering whether it would be OK to use Baltic Birch for the sides.
Specifically, my concern is whether Baltic Birch plywood would be more likely to absorb water and swell/delaminate in a bathroom/shower situation. (Note: there shouldn't be any direct water contact except from steam/humidity and the occassional 'puddling' on the floor that could wick up into the end-grain)
Note All surfaces will be primed & painted.
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On 12/3/2011 7:58 PM, blueman wrote:

I would not use poplar for face frames if I could help it. "Poplar" ain't what it used to be and is, IME, problematic from a dimensional stability stand point.
Birch, white or red, might be a better choice, IMO.

Nothing wrong with Baltic birch in that environment ...or a good import B2 paint grade birch plywood will do just as well for unseen panel sides for a bit less.
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"Swingman" wrote:

---------------------------------- Any idea why the current supply of Poplar is not dimensionally stable?
Lew
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On 12/3/2011 10:18 PM, Lew Hodgett wrote:

Look around you Lew, almost every thing in this country that is tainted by corporate MBAthink is shit, including MOST current products of the lumber industry.
Indigenous new growth and/or plantation grown wood, as poplar is wont to be these days, with an unusually high moisture content for a tree to start with, coupled with the corporate MBAthink, equals wood that is inferior and improperly dried for most uses as cabinet/furniture "lumber" ... although great for pulp.
Poplar has a high ratio of tangential to radial shrinkage, number one cause drying defects, so how is this handled by the corporate mindset?
Ship it over the recommended moisture content and let the consumer worry about it, which means in the end that a high percentage of what is sold and used for cabinets/furniture will eventually exhibit dimensional instability.
Basically, and in a sense, poplar has become the hardwood version of new growth fir and pine ... an unacceptable percentage will turn into a pretzel when it reaches equilibrium and not restrained in some manner.
I decided a few years ago to no longer waste my time on the wood in any cabinet or furniture project. If you see a paint grade wooden door, or a bowed face frame on a painted cabinet, and it is warped, you can bet it is poplar.
Further notable is that not a single door supplier I know will use poplar for paint grade door frames these days, not one! You can't even order it as a door option any longer in this neck of the woods.
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Swingman wrote:

I no longer use Poplar. My choice in California is Soft Maple.
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On 12/4/2011 11:33 AM, Rich wrote:

That'll work just fine ... smart man!
Most folks just look at the upfront costs ... those who do it for a living look at the long term costs of callbacks that come from not using a suitable material in the first place.
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Swingman wrote:

Well like you, I'm in the business. And have seen what has happened to Poplar. My supplier won't even offer it for sale.
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On 12/4/11 12:12 PM, Swingman wrote:

I think it was you who mention beech and birch. Both are a joy to work with, finish very evenly, probably more even than maple... and have a much tighter, smoother grain than oak.
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"Swingman" wrote in message
On 12/4/2011 11:33 AM, Rich wrote:

That'll work just fine ... smart man! *****************************************
How about basswood?
-- Jim in NC
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Fast growing weed tree, 3 - 4 feet per year. Unfortunately, fast growing usually means weak.
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I didn't realize Poplar wasn't stable... Is this just an issue in humid environments like a bathroom or do you not use poplar at all anymore?
Also, Birch seems to be quite pricy - about 3-4 times as expensive as poplar (when bought milled) and almost twice as expensive as oak and more than cherry
Seems almost a crime to pay that much for something that will be painted... Is Poplar really that much of an issue?
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On 12/3/2011 11:33 PM, blueman wrote:

If price is an issue (not all that much of an investment in the face frame material for one bath cabinet) go with red oak and paint it.
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Is there any disadvantage to red oak over Beech if it's painted?
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On 12/4/11 10:27 PM, blueman wrote:

In my mind, Beech would look better painted, unless you like the deep, wide grain of oak. Some do, some don't.
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What about that water resistant green MDF you recently talked about?
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Han
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On 12/4/2011 6:05 AM, Han wrote:

I don't make cabinets out of mdf. MDF is much too heavy and does not hold fasteners well enough to stand the test of time.
High grade, water resistant MDF in painted doors and drawer fronts in some styles, like European slab doors and drawer fronts, yes.
Some things simply work well for a targeted purpose ... like using pocket hole joinery for cabinet face frames.
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Shooting a little superglue into the screw holes makes the surrounding MDF hard as a rock and much more able to hold screws. Not real practical, though.
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On 12/4/11 6:05 AM, Han wrote:

Unless these are being installed on the back deck or in a sauna, plain old plywood is going to be fine.
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I went to a local high quality lumber shop used mostly by cabinet makers. I was all set to buy the Birch despite its 3x cost.
I started chatting with one of the managers mentioning that I was told that Poplar "ain't what it used to be" -- and the manager told me that while he would love to sell me the higher priced Birch, in his experience Poplar is both more stable and more workable than Birch. A couple of customers within earshot agreed... so maybe the issue with Poplar is a regional one or maybe it depends on the quality of the Poplar.
The Poplar was prety cheap ($1.67 per lineal foot for 1x6), high quality and already S4 so I went with the Poplar rather than paying $5.50 per bf for S3 birch (that was still rougher than the nicely milled Poplar).
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On 12/7/2011 10:16 PM, blueman wrote:

Word to the wise ... a salesman (someone "selling" you something) in any business having to do with construction, and particularly cabinetmaking, lumber yards or otherwise, is never to be trusted ... they're like politicians when it comes to there lips moving. :)
A good rule to follow: Whenever a salesman advises, ask to see an example of _his_ work in that regard.
Better to ask a cabinetmaker, or better yet, a cabinet door maker (where quality and material choice will totally make or break the deal), one who cares about their product, what they use.
(and at least two have already advised you in that regard) <g>
The price is generally a good indicator of material quality in this business. There is a big difference between inexpensive and "cheap" ... your words. Not that the cheaper material will all be bad, but you generally have to buy much more of it, and the risk of having to redo work because of inherent instability will make it more expensive in the long run.
That notwithstanding, the odds are you should be just fine for your one-off cabinet face frame, mainly because a face frame is constrained in movement by attachment to the cabinet panels.
(However, it only takes one, constrained or not, to ruin an entire run in a $60K kitchen, so those who care do not use price as the ultimate factor in choosing material).
However, should you use that "cheap" (your words) poplar he sold you for your cabinet door frames, I will guarantee that one of every three will bow/warp to some extent in the not too distant future.
Did you pick out the wood yourself, and more importantly, do you know what to look for?
If you know what to look for you can indeed reduce your odds of that happening, but not as significantly with today's poplar as you can with other wood species.
In any event, you should likely be OK, and good luck with your project.
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