Maple or Poplar

Page 1 of 2  
I'm finally ready to start making my daughter's desk, she's 8 and is going to "help". She stated this week that she wanted it painted white. I already bought all the maple and it seems a shame to cover it up with paint. I was thinking about making it out of poplar now since it's going to be painted. My question is do I make it out of maple anyway since it will be much more durable or go with poplar to save money. Of course you can't answer this for me but I'm curious what you think you would do.
This is a small student's desk that I hope my daughter uses until college. She lives with me part time so it wont get a whole lot of abuse. She'll have a computer on it and maybe do some homework there.
Also, what kind of paint would be good. Would a standard enamel wall paint be Ok or something else.
TIA
Ron
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It is a toss up. If you are using Hard maple it will hold up better against dents and dings. Soft Maple will not be quite as tough. The Poplar will easily take dings. Either will hold up through college but a Hard Maple desk will should hod up for a very lont time.

Spend the money on a premium quality Alkyd Oil Based Paint.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I'd go ahead and make it out of the Maple. I would think about using a clear poly finish and then give it to her. She will love it either way, and much later, when she says to her daughter, "Grandpa and I made this when I was your age." she will appreaciate it more.
Dave

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
....

Maple. The cost of material is minimal next to your labor, and then maybe it will be around for your daughter to give to her daughter. *That* would be worth the extra $.
I have used poplar, but have gone to all maple for "white-painted" stuff.
Go with an oil (alkyd) based paint.
-Steve
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Stephen M wrote:

Same here, much more durable. Birch works well, too.
Barry
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Ron,
It's your daughter.....use the maple so you don't 2nd guess yourself. Of course you could put a plexiglass or plastic top over the wood (either one) for protection and better writeability (new word?). If you did that I guess it wouldn't matter as much which wood was used.
Can't help you on the paint. :-(
Bryan
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I just finished a play kitchen for my daughter out of poplar (design stolen from pottery barn catalog). It was my first time using poplar and it was very easy to work with, cut, sand, rout, etc.
Sanded, spray-primed, sanded, spray-primed, sanded, brush painted. The finish came out great, smooth as glass. I sprayed Benjamin Moore 100% acrylic all-purpose primer with an automotive type sprayer, no thinning. finished it off with Benjamin Moore semi-gloss latex paint. While the surface is smooth and looks great I doubt it would hold up well on a desk that will be subjected to pens and pencils at a minimum.
Never used an HVLP sprayer but the next time I paint a project I will definitely get one, the automotive sprayers have a ton of overspray.
--
Too much is not enough!
Ray
rvojtash NOT THIS ATcomcast DOT net
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ron Short wrote:

I guess it depends upon the prices. Here in CA, maple is EXPENSIVE. I would probably make it out of douglas fir (Pacific Jummywood) which is readily available and comparitively inexpensive. Poplar costs more but may yield a nicer product. Any premium water or oil base primer/enamel will work well.     mahalo,     jo4hn
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
If you must paint it, poplar. It's as much a crime in my mind to paint maple as to stain cherry... I built a maple rocking cradle for the 1st grandchild. Tho it will only be used 6-9 months at a time and infrequently, I'll bet that cradle is still around and being used 3 or 4 generations down the line. Are you building a utilitarian desk or an heirloom? Your decision.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Maple matches very well with white components. Can you modify the design so it's a Maple top with a white base? Then go with Poplar or plywood. Lately, I'vb been using the MDF with a veneer core, lighter and paints great. I wouldn't waste Maple under paint....ever. Of course that's just my opinion.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
SonomaProducts.com wrote:

You guys who would never "waste" wood under paint have never seen paint grade woods? <G>
Not every board of every species has beautiful attributes. Lower grades can often be had at considerable discounts to FAS. These grades often really don't look all that hot with a clear finish, but retain the solid feel and durability of the species.
The "feel" that a painted maple or birch part has is very noticeable to me over poplar, pine, fir, etc... This is especially true for moving parts, like doors and drawer fronts, but is still noticeable when touching fixed parts.
Barry
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Reasonable point. I was working from the assumption that he has purchased Maple that was intended to be seen so it is likely beautiful. I'd still rather have MDF under the piant than Maple or even Poplar, although I do paint Poplar often.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Since she wants to help I would have her try a few different finishes on small pieces of maple and have her see for herself what the possibilities are; girls tend to know whats to their taste and/or is fashionable in my experience ;-).
If she is stuck on white then go with the poplar or good quality plywood.
Ron Short wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Heck my kids want new cars too but......... I suggest you use maple and give it a nice stain or clear finish. If you do a good job she will love it, especially when she gets near college age. You know how kids are..... two weeks later and she will say that she wished it was painted blue. Put some cool picture frames and dodads on it and she will be totally happy. Take charge Dad.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Save the maple for another project. Popular takes paint exceptionally well, better than maple. Use a bare-wood primer and enamel. I'd probably use oil-based or a gloss trim paint. Allow the piece to cure 3-4 weeks, then you can apply a wax & buff before using.
wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I dunno, but if you seal it with some coats of clear finish before painting, might it be easier to strip later on (even though maple does have tight grain, anyway)? That way, if she insists on paint and some time later she says those magic words, "Yunno, Dad, I think you were right," it will be easier to remedy. FWIW. -- Igor
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I don't know if you are using hard maple or soft maple, or if it has any figure. If it's soft maple, I'd use it (almost the same price as poplar here). It it's hard maple, I'd toss a coin. If it's maple with any figure, I'd save it for another project.
A while back I made a little box out of scrap walnut and maple with and for my 6yr old son. He insisted that we paint it with a schoolbus yellow lacquer. Kind of killed me at the time to paint over it, but in retrospect I'm glad I did because now it's "his" project and it is prized by him.
I bet it will mean a lot to your daughter if you let her make the design calls.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@usa.xerox.com writes:

Well, Ron, once it's painted, it's painted.
Since you already have the maple, I'd make the desk out of maple. You can make a desk top to set over the real desk top and paint that white, both on the top and the "extension" all around it to hold it in place over the real top. (Don't fasten it to the desk, just build lips on all four sides to keep it from slipping around. That way she has her white desk and she can do all of the work [except the actual cutting] on the "writing" portion of her desk.)
I suspect when she sees the desk actually assembled, the maple desk, and she is helping with the sanding and finishing, that she will be thrilled with it and opt for a glass top rather than a white top. Of course, much depends on the particular wood you are using. There are some woods I don't mind painting over but others that it's criminal to cover with paint.
When you give it to her, if she still wants it white, you can tell her when she is 13 (or 16), she can paint it white if she still wants it white. Also tell her that she can make it white later, but she cannot "make it maple" later. I'm betting she will be thrilled with the maple finish and never go to white. In addition to the white "writing" top, you could also make a small (2-shelf), shallow bookshelf to set on top of the desk, painted white, which will give much more white. With her computer on the desk, that gives her a place to set drives, CDs, etc., also and keep them in sight.
If you make it maple, it will be her own heirloom. If you paint it, she'll still love it but when grown, she'll wish it wasn't painted. Stripping them back just isn't the same as never painting them.
Just my thoughts.
Glenna
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Glenna Rose wrote:

Although, that's an interesting story in of itself. This thing:
http://www.geocities.com/Paris/Rue/5407/shop/hutch-combined.jpg
I'm at a used furniture place with my girlfriend, looking for a cheap dresser for her apartment. (She had just graduated from RU, and she moved into this place to stay up here near me, rather than returning home.) So I find this cheap little thing for $20 or something, and the only thing really wrong with it is that the knobs are broken. I make some comment about how I can fix the knobs. A sales dude overhears.
"So, you like to restore furniture, do you?"
"Um."
"Here, have a look at this. It's solid mahogany!"
He indicates this total POS. Someone had painted it white, and someone else had done a half ass job of stripping it. They wanted $70 for the thing, which was a king's ransom to my girlfriend. Somehow or other I got backed into a corner on the issue. You're a man, aren't you? Because you're a man, you can refinish this and make something beautiful.
"Um."
So I got a refinishing book and went to town. It isn't solid, but it has a lot of solid wood bits in the carcase. Dovetails and hardwood glides and whatnot. It's a pretty well-constructed item overall. After I stripped it, the wood looked really bad, so I stained it "dark walnut."
Years later, after my girlfriend had become my wife, and we had moved into a new house, we no longer needed the dresser. One of my cousins gave us his mother's old bedroom furniture. Some of the most gawdy, tasteless looking stuff the '40s ever produced, but at least it all matched. A bed, two night stands, a chifferobe and a dresser. So we stuck this dresser in the dining room, and one of my first projects in my newly-started actual dedicated shop (instead of my previous efforts in various kitchens and back porches) was to build the hutch thing for the top.
So that white-painted ugly POS is what planted the first seed that lead me to where I sit today.
I really need to learn to start taking before pictures.
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<snip>

I've got one of those in the guest bedroom. My wife bought it almost ten years before we met. I'm the one who painted over the 'blue antique finish' from the 60's, with white latex. I started stripping the crud off about 1990, but it ended up getting sidetracked for another 10 years or so. I got the whole thing 'dipped', then I rebuilt and refinished the thing, getting done maybe 18 months ago.
I've got over 100 hours and at least $400 in the project, but she's happy. It has sedimental value.
Patriarch
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.