I have to redo some kitchen cabinet doors. Currently they are painted 3/4
ply. I have to stay with painted finish but I'm going to do a frame and
My thinking says that pine might be too soft, no way will I paint oak, so
what are my choices? I'm thinking that poplar might be a good choice but
have never used it before - all I know about it is that it is difficult to
stain. No experience routing it.
Living in Southern California am I correct in this choice?
There are 10 kinds of people - those who understand binary and those who
[snipped for brevity]
Turns out that I am planing 120 bdft of poplar as we speak. Just walked
in for a bit of a break.
I like poplar for projects like that. If KD'd properly, it is very
stable. In machines beautifully, somehere between soft maple and hard
pine, and sands well. I have been a fan for decades... and it's cheap.
Certainly an excellent choice for rails and stiles and mullions....if
painted. The grain is not pretty and 'paint grade' can be brown..even a
kinda green/grey. Not to worry, none of that will bleed through a
decent sealer coat. I use up my leftovers as a sealer coat.. I thin it
15-20% and use it as a piss-coat. After a through drying, it should
sand very well and take the next coat well.
I can't think of a more dimensionally stable hardwood....doesn't mean
there aren't any species more stable.... but at $ 1.20 bdft?
The popular will work fine for this, unless you are going to have kids
swinging on the doors sometime down the road. The birch is harder and a
tighter grain but here it costs a little more. You are going to be painting
these so if me I would use the popular and still shed a tear while covering
the grain of some pretty wood. Now to me any wood used inside a house is
tooooooo pretty to cover with paint. Just me. You read for yourself what the
American Hardwood Association has to say about each.
Other Names: Yellow Poplar, Tulip Wood
Strength and mechanical properties
Yellow poplar trees grow taller than any other U.S. hardwood species and
they are members of the magnolia family. The bark, leaves, flowers, fruit
and roots contain pharmaceuticals. Poplar is the state tree of Indiana,
Kentucky and Tennessee.
Where it Grows
Widespread throughout Eastern U.S. Tree heights can reach 150 feet.
Light construction, furniture, kitchen cabinets, doors, musical instruments,
siding, paneling, mouldings and millwork, edge-glued panels, turnings and
11.2 percent of total U.S. hardwoods commercially available.
Did You Know?
The poplar tree is rarely attacked by parasites.
The sapwood is creamy white and may be streaked, with the heartwood varying
from pale yellowish brown to olive green. The green color in the heartwood
will tend to darken on exposure to light and turn brown. The wood has a
medium to fine texture and is straight-grained; has a comparatively uniform
A versatile wood that is easy to machine, plane, turn, glue and bore. It
dries easily with minimal movement in performance and has little tendency to
split when nailed. It takes and holds paint, enamel and stain exceptionally
A medium density wood with low bending, shock resistance, stiffness and
compression values, with a medium steam-bending classification. Excellent
strength and stability.
Very widely available.
Strength and mechanical properties
From sap to bark, birch trees are used to make everything from beer to
toothpicks. Native Americans stretched birch bark on their canoe frames and
used the wood for their arrows. The birch is New Hampshire's state tree. It
is also popular as an ornamental tree and has gained the nickname "Mother
Tree" because birches were planted at the White House to honor the mothers
of U.S. presidents. The oil extracted from the bark contains a chemical used
to treat rheumatism and inflammations.
Where it Grows
Eastern U.S., principally Northern and Lake states. The average tree is 60
to 70 feet in height. Birch prefers valleys and stream banks although it
adapts itself to higher grounds.
Furniture, millwork and paneling, doors, flooring, kitchen cabinets,
turnings and toys.
0.7 percent of total U.S. hardwoods commercially available.
Did You Know?
Native Americans often rolled and burned birch bark to keep mosquitoes away.
Yellow birch has a white sapwood and light reddish brown heartwood. The wood
is generally straight-grained with a fine uniform texture. Generally
characterized by a plain and often curly or wavy pattern.
The wood works fairly easily, glues well with care, takes stain extremely
well, and nails and screws satisfactorily where pre-boring is advised. It
dries rather slowly with little degrade, but it has moderately high
shrinkage, so is susceptible to movement in performance.
The wood of yellow birch is heavy, hard and strong. It has very good bending
properties, with good crushing strength and shock resistance.
Reasonable availability, but more limited if selected for color.
web site: hardwoodinfo.com
I suggest asking at the wood dealer for rejected birch or maple. My
local guys often have an "ugly pile" where you can buy birch or maple
for less than poplar. This isn't usually an advertised thing, you
usually have to ask, but they're often happy to unload the stuff. One
of my local guys is less interested, 'cause he's got an in-house
pointy stick operation, but the other two are. Ask... <G>
Just this week, I made two commercial door jambs from some butt-ugly
8"+ wide hard maple I bought for ~ $1.50 bd/ft.
Expect this stuff to have tearout, due to many grain reversals, and
the occasional knot. A quick skim with bondo or water putty, and
you're good to go.
Poplar is a good choice, it's not too hard but it's harder than your
other alternatives, it isn't very expensive and it's easy to work and
paint. I'd certainly avoid most pine and yes, if you were to paint
oak, most of us would string you up, but you can't really go too wrong
with poplar. Good call.
I just finished a big wall-to-wall builtin book case all in poplar. A
coat of Minwax "colonial pine" completely eliminated the slight greenish
cast of the wood and it looks beautiful with a couple a coats of poly
varnish over the minwax.
Well, soft maple from Washington or Oregon isn't much more than poplar, in
the dealer's barn at Oakland, CA. It's harder, straighter, and easier to
machine than poplar from the next pile over. Worth looking into, but
highly dealer dependant.
using hard white maple this week for the daughter-in-law's kitchen...
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