What wood do you use?


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I was at my local lumber supplier, and was just going thru all the wood. Does anyone ever use basswood or poplar in their projects and finishing it whatever look you are wanting to achieve ? I really love walnut and cherry but cannot always afford it for every project!

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Use poplar sometimes as a secondary… Drawer carcass, chest internal structure, etc.

Poplar takes paint incredibly well (I use it for shop projects sometimes) and you can finish it as a substitute cherry, walnut, etc with high fidelity.

Charles Neil has a couple of videos on finishing a secondary poplar to match primaries in his ‘coloring wood’ series – I’ve tried his technique and it works well…

Just say no to Basswood...

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I like to use Poplar on faceplates, doors and drawer fronts, on painted projects. I also have made a lot of trim with it and had custom mouldings made from both Poplar and Basswood. Basswood is great for beading opennings and other small trim but is really too soft to use for faceplate and doors IMHO. The only time I ever tried to stain either of them it was miserable result. They blotch terribly and suck up stain like sponges. I'll have to check out that Charles Neil video.

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My local mill sells downfall maple for less $ , discolored and even curly boards. We use the discolored boards for paint grade and always pick the best curly stock to save for special projects.

Poplar stained medium to darker colors looks fine. For lighter shades be sure to use only the lightest colored boards, that green tint can make the colors come out weird.

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I've used basswood for small(think sewing or spice box) drawer sides and interior dividers. Poplar is my usual secondary material for drawer boxes, interior and back parts, and painted items, as it's cheaper in my area than good clear white pine.

Poplar is also a great mocking up / development wood.

Poplar can be made to look like other woods, but to do it well is a lot of work and best done with spray gear. It takes paint great!

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My favorite wood right now is Maple, but I am going to try Cherry and Walnut very soon :)

Here is Wisconsin, Maple can be had for pretty cheap. $2.00/BF Select/Better Soft Maple. And in some home saw mills on craigslist I have seen around $1.25/BF same thing.

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We get alder in Atlanta for a bit more than FAS maple. Alder works well,it is softer than maple. It stains to cherry, walnut and medium tones very well. Red birch plywood has a similar grain and color if the budget is tight. Alder ply is a bit pricey, cherry ply even costs less.

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==>They blotch terribly and suck up stain like sponges...

CN now sells a waterbased 'blotch control' product. If you look at his coloring series, he does color poplar with good result. The blotch control product does help. I spray that or a 1# SB depending on what is going on over it...

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++ a bunch to "SAY NO to Basswood".

It's super soft and sucks up anything you put on it like crazy! You can't really glue it because it sucks up all the glue and leaves the joint dry. You can scratch it easily with your finger nail. It's nearly useless for any surface that will be touched by anything, ever.

Can you tell that I once tried to use it for something and very shortly thereafter was making a return trip to the lumber store? <smile>

- EG

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If all you can afford sometimes is basswood or poplar then use it and learn to deal with its short comings. There is more to wood than looks and finishing properties. Janka rating is the main reason standards are poplar and above. For cabinetmakers a rating of 900 or higher has always been the standard. As of late in part due to conservation the standard has been lowered to 600. This is to sneak poplar into the mix as a cherry substitute. IMO the reduction from 900 to 600 was no big deal since shops have been deceptively selling poplar for decades and the quality and durability has been pretty good dispite the claims that poplar has never bben a good choice.

Don

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If all you can afford sometimes is basswood or poplar then use it and learn to deal with its short comings. There is more to wood than looks and finishing properties. Janka rating is the main reason standards are poplar and above. For cabinetmakers a rating of 900 or higher has always been the standard. As of late in part due to conservation the standard has been lowered to 600. This is to sneak poplar into the mix as a cherry substitute. IMO the reduction from 900 to 600 was no big deal since shops have been deceptively selling poplar for decades and the quality and durability has been pretty good dispite the claims that poplar has never bben a good choice.

Don

Is poplar considered a hardwood or softwood?

I use it all the time for painted projects and drawer sides.

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Poplar comes from a deciduous tree (flowering), so it's technically a hardwood. So is balsa. The terms "hardwood" and "softwood" don't actually correspond to the wood being hard or soft. Softwoods come from non-flowering trees, like spruce, fir, pine and gingko. So, southern yellow pine, a softwood, is much harder than poplar, a hardwood. I'm not certain, but I think softwoods have pitch and hardwoods have sap, so softwoods can gum up your chimney if you burn them in a fireplace.

Poplar has a Janka hardness of about 540. Southern yellow pine has a Janka hardness of 870.

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Is poplar considered a hardwood or softwood?

I use it all the time for painted projects and drawer sides.

That question can go any direction and usually goes along the same route as a saw stop discussion. The only thing you need to ask. Is it hard enough to meet my needs?

Don

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