Poplar Nightstand #1: Starting off

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Blog entry by mitchota posted 08-10-2013 02:16 AM 3283 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Poplar Nightstand series Part 2: Assembly time - almost done. »

I got some poplar yesterday to start working on a nightstand for the bedroom. I was looking into using pine or oak, but the pine was ugly and I couldn’t find any really nice pieces of oak at the store. I decided to go with poplar since it was affordable and since I’ve worked with it a little before, I’m familar with how it behaves.

I glued up some boards for the top and the legs last night and left them to dry overnight. This morning I took some time to get them out of the clamps and I milled up the legs blanks to their final size. I then took some time to work on the layout for the mortises. This is the first time I’m doing a project that uses mortise and tenon joinery, so I want to make sure I don’t mess anything up.

I also set up my tapering jig to taper the legs, but I want to do the mortising first. I don’t want to have to try and do plunge cutting on my router table with a piece of wood that doesn’t have straight sides. I’m glad that this project will use some of the jigs that I built from the scraps of my previous projects.

I’m going to live dangerously on this and stain the poplar instead of painting it. I’ve done my fair share of research and I see that most people avoid staining poplar like the plague. I have read that it can be a very involved process, but I’m up for a challenge. I tested out some of the stain I have on a scrap of poplar that I got from cutting my parts.

I’ve been a fan of the Rustoleum Ultimate Wood Stain and it seems that it didn’t disappoint on the poplar. I tried golden mahogany, traditional cherry, and black cherry. From what I understand about this stain, it’s designed to give good results even on hard to stain woods like pine and poplar. It seems that it lives up to that claim. I really like the look of the mahogany and traditional cherry, so I might use one of those. The black cherry seems too purple for my tastes, so I might save it for something else.

I got use my router table to make the mortises in the legs. I probably should have waited another day until I got my plunge cutting bit, but I just went with my 3/8” straight cutter to make the cut, and it worked very well. It is a Freud bit and not something generic that I picked up on the cheap, so it worked well. After that, I had to work on the tenons.

My dry fit went okay. I have to fine-tune the tenons to properly fit the mortises, so I have to work on that. I also need to cut the parts for the front rails and so I’ll take care of that tomorrow. I’m glad that the woodworking for this is going so well. I think that I should be able to finish the woodworking part of this project tomorrow, then I can do final sanding and try to stain it up.

1 comment so far

View palaswood's profile


933 posts in 1171 days

#1 posted 09-07-2013 08:40 PM

Looking good! I just found some really nice poplar myself for a little jewelry box I promised my girlfriend ages ago, but these small jobs are intimidating somehow. I like your nightstand – contemporary and simple yet elegant

-- Joseph, Irvine CA, @palas_woodcraft on Instagram

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