Poplar, what's it good for

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I'm pricing out oak and getting depressed about the high cost, so I'm looking at some of the other woods available and notice poplar in the mix. What the heck is poplar good for, and when finished/stained will it retain that slightly greenish yellow hue?
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It's good for all kinds of things where the finish will be paint, especially molding and trim. It's also used in a fair amount of mass-produced furniture, for parts that won't show. It's lightweight, straight-grained, usually free of knots and other defects, and often available *very* wide. It's also fairly soft, which greatly limits its usefulness in furnituremaking.

Not if the stain is dark enough. :-)
It can be stained to resemble walnut or cherry. Note I didn't say "mimic" or "imitate", because the resemblance is somewhat remote -- but it's close enough to fool most people. Won't fool too many woodworkers...
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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wrote:

That sucks, I need a hardwood and one with some character to it. I was noticing that it was extraordinarily plain looking wood. To be honest I noticed the same thing about maple, no real character to the grain. As for oak, tons of character - probably why it costs oodles of money. I think I also saw hemlock in the mix, but I was under the impression that hemlock is a softwood more suited for framing than furniture.
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Eigenvector wrote:

Poplar is a hardwood, it just isn't a hard wood... :)
Hemlock is a softwood and is soft besides. It is mostly framing lumber, correct.
Poplar is what is known as a "secondary" wood for most cabinetry/furniture purposes. For such uses it is a very good choice being stable, easy to work and plentiful.
Maple comes in many forms, too. "Soft" maple is typically pretty plain w/ little grain. It is reasonably hard, but not as hard as "hard" maples. These maples are the ones that are subject to the various types of irregularities that produce "birds eye" and "fiddleback", etc., and can be absolutely striking.
Oak is more costly these days primarily owing to demand. Depending on the grade, species and how it was sawn, it could be expected to be only slightly more than poplar to double or more. But, as hardwood goes, actual market for oak is about as inexpensive as any of the furniture woods and much less than many.
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On Wed, 25 Jul 2007 16:54:32 -0700, "Eigenvector"

Oak is usually one of the cheapest hardwoods you can get, so if you are getting depressed about the cost of it either you are looking at the borg or you need a new hobby. If it's the former, find yourself a real lumberyard.

Well maple usually cost more than oak, If you like the look of oak then stick with it.
As for poplar, I like to use it for drawers and internal parts.
-Leuf
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Leuf wrote:

Around here (Pacific Northwest) birch is usually the same or lower cost than poplar. It's a harder wood and I use it for drawers and sometimes for visible parts. I like the combination of brown heartwood and white sapwood.
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Look for ash. It is cheaper than oak, even more heavily figured. Hard, durable--used for shovel handles, among other things.
Poplar is a great secondary wood, as Doug Miller explained, and around here you see literally hundreds of new and antique dough bowls carved from it, along with a lot of other things. I used it for siding on my shop--rough cut, put up as board and batten, no finish, about '95, and still doing fine as it ages. It is not a weather or ground durable wood, though, so such use must be vertical and off the ground.
Some poplar that is grown in heavily mineralized ground will show deep purple to dark green to black figures when freshly cut. Unfortunately, that fades fairly quickly...much to my disgust when I first found that out a couple decades or so ago.
If you're not in a rush, consider buying your wood green and rough and jointing and planing it after a year or so. Once you amortize the jointer and planer, you save about 40% of the wood cost, and have an incredible amount of garden mulch...or compost if you prefer. Rough green wood costs around here have risen dramatically in the past couple years, with oak now running out close to a buck a board foot. I think poplar is still about half that.
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That sucks, I need a hardwood and one with some character to it. I was noticing that it was extraordinarily plain looking wood. To be honest I noticed the same thing about maple, no real character to the grain. As for oak, tons of character - probably why it costs oodles of money. I think I also saw hemlock in the mix, but I was under the impression that hemlock is a softwood more suited for framing than furniture.
What about Hickory? Kate
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Isn't it what they make matches out of?
============== j-c ====== @ ====== purr . demon . co . uk =============Jack Campin: 11 Third St, Newtongrange EH22 4PU, Scotland | tel 0131 660 4760 <http://www.purr.demon.co.uk/jack/ for CD-ROMs and free | fax 0870 0554 975stuff: Scottish music, food intolerance, & Mac logic fonts | mob 07800 739 557
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the grain is fine, catching flame easily, and interlocked, holding together well.
We also have a magnolia, Liriodendron tulipifera, that we sell as "poplar" to confuse the issue. That's what they're talking about.
You really want to get confused, you ought to see what kind of bird they call a robin! Has to be one of my favorite bird genera. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Robin
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George wrote:

I was doing some research on some burl pen blanks I have last night and ran across a page that claimed that Gmelina is used for matchsticks.
WAY fast growing tree.
Bill
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http://nmwoodworks.com
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Suppose they might use anything now, wooden matches being a rarity. Don't even use cedar for pencils either. Reason for aspen and such lies in the fact that the burned chunk doesn't break off as easily as other hardwoods. Look at the breaks you see in hardwood coals in you stove. Poplar sort of flashes into stringy black, with the shape of the log often pretty evident in the fluff.
Neat stuff, used in the east as bottoms for stoneboats and buckboards, because it'd dent rather than crack when you pitch stuff on it. Used in the UP for the bottoms of Finns, because it won't get splinters in their butts in the sauna, and feels cool.
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Eigenvector wrote: ...

And, I was going to add on the question -- "no".
It will darken and turn browner. It may retain some hints for a while if protected from the light, but for the longer term, no.
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Not always! Look here: http://www.milmac.com/Turnings/ChristmasOrnaments.html
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:

How old are they?
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green any more as it was when the photo was taken, but it's by *no* means brown.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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RE: Subject
Poplar AKA: "Paint wood"
Lew
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I use poplar for three situations:
1) I use wide poplar slabs for the seats of Windsor chairs. This was [and is] common in the Middle Atlantic states. [New England uses white pine]. Windsor chairs, which are made from several species, are painted.
2) On work that will be painted.
3) As a secondary wood. (i.e. a less expensive wood that is not usually seen on the piece)
Joel
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So I get it now, poplar is that stuff you see in the back of drawers and normally hidden away parts of furniture so that the woodworker doesn't have to spend his life savings making a chest of drawers out of Cherry or Black Walnut or Endangered Rainforest Mahogany.

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Bingo.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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