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Various Projects #5: Mom's Bookcase Part 2: There's Wood Here Now

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Blog entry by Tomcat1066 posted 12-12-2008 07:21 PM 799 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Mom's Bookcase Part 1: Planning Part 5 of Various Projects series Part 6: Mom's Bookcase Part 3: A Slight Hiccup »

Apparently, my dear old Mom is more impatient than I am! Why do I say this? Simple. We both happen to be off today, and she announces to me this morning that she’d like for us to go a pick up the Poplar for her bookcase this morning. I figured it makes a certain amount of sense, considering the wood needs to dry out a bit before being worked, despite coming from Lowe’s. There was just one little problem with this…I hadn’t designed it yet!

So, this will be interesting. Right now, I’m trying to figure out what kind of router bits I’m going to need for this bad boy. Well, the sizes really. I know I’ll need a straight bit for the dados and I’ll need a rabbet bit for the rabbets (obviously), but what size will be best? That’s a new set of problems to figure out.

Of course, since it appears my mother bought me a Porter Cable 690LR router, I at least have something to fire up and make the cuts with. Not to shabby to start with I think.

However, I need the help here. The listed dimensions for the poplar is 1”x12”x6’. These are nominal measurements, so I’m thinking a 3/4” sraight bit will cover the dados just fine, but what about the rabbets? I’d like the top and sides to both have rabbets that will match flush. Is this possible or should I plan on the top being a little proud of the sides and sand or plane it down to match?

This is where I need some help. Any and all assistance would be greatly appreciated.

(Man I feel like such a newbie! ;) )

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!



4 comments so far

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3562 days


#1 posted 12-12-2008 09:19 PM

I really like poplar wood and use it quite a bit. It handles like cherry, it is very easy to cut, route, and sand.

It takes paint and stain wonderfully. I recommend a more solid body stain like Sherwin Williams Wood Classics or Sherwin’s BAC Wiping stain. You can make it look like a lot of other woods with these stains. The green and purple tones show through stains like Minwax too much, even if you can be selective on your boards you will get some.

Another bonus of these types of stain is that the WoodClassics dries to topcoat in 2 hours and the BAC Wiping Stain time is 30 minutes. These times are for solvent based finishes so you better check for waterborne finishes if that is what you plan to use. I do not use them, I am a solvent based lacquer man.

ML Campbell makes a competitive line of stain that I have used and like as well. The Minwax 24 hour dry times kill me.

I have bought and used poplar right away from the big box stores. It is kiln dried and it is stored in a stable environment so it is good to go.

If I need a 3/4” dado or groove of some sort for 3/4 material, I typically use a 1/2” and make 2 passes. The reason is that the bit will be a true 3/4” but the material is usually less than that. With a 1/2” bit you just make the second pass to create the appropriate fit.

I have not seen your plan, but I would suggest an overhanging top with a routed profile on the sides and front. If you want it to go flush, making the top hang over slightly and sanding or routing it flush may be easier as an inexperienced woodworker. Then the rabbet does not need to be perfect.

I often glue up my own 12” wide material because the stock boards are twisted too much. I can usually find very straight boards in a more narrow width, but that is not to say that you won’t find something good.

I am looking forward to seeing some photos.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View Tomcat1066's profile

Tomcat1066

942 posts in 3258 days


#2 posted 12-12-2008 10:53 PM

Thanks Todd. I had been told before that Poplar takes paint well, and that’s great because Mom wants it painted white. She’s on a white furniture kick, so that’s what I get to do. I’m hoping to experiment with the scraps to see what all I can do with stains though. I really like the price of Poplar, so if I can make it look like something else, then so much the better.

I appreciate the tip on the router bit for the dados. I plan on making a jig based on the thickness of the shelves, and I didn’t even think about it being less than 3/4”.

We purchased 12” wide boards, but they were straight. I’m concerned they might be a little wet, but if they’re kiln dried then they should be good to go. I appreciate that ;)

I also appreciate the tip on the top as well. I was concerned that it wouldn’t be right and end up looking like crap. We also picked up a piece of poplar molding to go on the piece to decorate it up a bit. As I’m using 12” material, an overhand in the front would be tricky unless I rip the rest of it down a bit, which I might end up doing anyways (some of the edges looked a little rough. Sanding would probably fix it, but I’d rather have crisp edges for some OCD reason).

I appreciate your help. Now I can at least get the bits to get started on this at Lowe’s this weekend and get some work done on this, weather permitting.

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3562 days


#3 posted 12-12-2008 11:10 PM

My own wife used to tease me about making the anal sucking sound when I worked on project because I was such a perfectionist.

I have learned to live with wood’s organic nature and stopped being a machinist. I also slightly ease the edges. Sharp edges do not wear well nor do they take finish or paint very well, they are to “sharp” for the material to flow over the edge.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View Tomcat1066's profile

Tomcat1066

942 posts in 3258 days


#4 posted 12-12-2008 11:17 PM

Oh, I only meant for leaving them crisp while working. I fully intend to round them over slightly during sanding. I honestly don’t know why I prefer it either. Like I said, OCD. It has to be ;)

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

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