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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. :-(
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!
rvojtash NOT THIS ATcomcast DOT net
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Ron Short wrote:
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
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.
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
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
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.
Although, that's an interesting story in of itself. This thing:
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?"
"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.
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 < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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.
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