If you use a mahogany or cherry stain it will look like those. I did a
bunch of house trim jobs, library office stuff and they are all poplar
stained that deep rich red and you can not tell the difference (don't
beat me up on this please I just did the cut and nail) I did not like
the brown finish on poplar.
as folks here are fond of responded to these types of questions: stain a
scrap piece and see how YOU like it. I tried staining a small shop
project, just for the hell of it, and it looked dreadful. Murky and
funky; after evaluating it, I decided the yucky greenish natural color
was better! Give it a try...most of the poplar I have is too greenish
for my tastes, but it's cheap and it's only for shop projects.
Technique we ended up using was to get a can of spray on polyurethane.
Spray the wood, sand it, then use non-dye stain (the kind that sits
on the surface), then spray it w/ poly again, sand it, then use regular
poly w/ a brush or rag. Result looks great, but lots of work :-P
Poplar seems to absorb stains really weirdly so if you use oil
based or water based stain, it looks all blotchy.
p.s., the dye based stains were better than the non-dye kind, but
the color still wasn't as even as the spray technique...
I think one of the keys to staining poplar may be board selection before you
start your project.
I once saw a "hunt board", made entirely of yellow poplar, that you would
have sworn was walnut at first glance. The piece was all sapwood, with none
of the multi-colored heartwood, and it was gorgeous.
A wood conditioner, or a heavily cut washcoat of shellac and some judicious
sanding, will cut down on the blotches.
I've always wanted to see if I could reproduce that "hunt board" ... might
give it a try before poplar gets as expensive as other hardwoods, which, to
my estimation, is just a matter of time.
Oops...got my steps wrong. First step was using a cut shellac
washcoat to keep the stain from seeping in too deeply.
FWIW, the colors came out very nicely. The wood grain can still
be seen and we chose a dark mahogany color. This was for door
moldings that were pretty complicated to match the existing ancient
walnut or mahogany ones...
Maybe, maybe not. It grows very fast, and it will grow back if you leave a
good sized stump, so you can practically harvest the stuff like asparagus.
To give my take on the OP's question, I built with poplar exclusively for
years, because it was all I could find that I could afford. I've got some
stuff that I will put up against a piece of walnut, and you won't be able
to tell which is which from across the room. Get up close, and it's no
contest. Now that I have tasted the forbidden fruit, I'm thoroughly
addicted to the real deal. Walnut has a lot of character.
Anyway, I did what I did with S4S lumber from Lowe's, sanded with one of
those screaming POS 1/3 sheet orbital sanders (not random-orbit, just
orbit) and stained/polyed with Minwhacks' finest schlop. I'm not saying
it's the road to fine furniture by any stretch, but you can get decent
results with minimal technology. I was working out of my kitchen and/or
back yard in those days.
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < email@example.com>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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