Staining "Poplar to look like Walnut"

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Forum topic by Franklin posted 12-17-2009 08:36 PM 18156 views 1 time favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 3098 days

12-17-2009 08:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: poplar walnut stain tip finishing

Does anyone know the procedure for staining poplar to look like walnut. I know wood magizine did an article on this subject in March 2009 Issue #189 and I don’t have that issue. If anyone could tell me how it’s done or e-mail/fax me a copy I would greatly appreciate it.
Gary Franklin

-- Good, Fast or Cheap (Pick any 2)

9 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4218 days

#1 posted 12-17-2009 08:45 PM

I was going to be a smart-a@@ and say something about painting my Yugo to look like a Ferrari….

But here is the link to the article in question:

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Franklin's profile


5 posts in 3098 days

#2 posted 12-17-2009 09:56 PM

Thanks for the reply CharlieM, I like the Yugo painted to look like a Ferrari that would have been funny.
If this blanket chest that I am building was for me I would by Walnut and be done with it, but it’s for my sister and I am giving her the option of real Walnut or Poplar stained to look like Walnut.
Thanks again for the response and the humor.

-- Good, Fast or Cheap (Pick any 2)

View j_olsen's profile


155 posts in 3171 days

#3 posted 12-17-2009 10:04 PM

LMBO—Charlie let me know how that works for you because I want some Bugatti paint for my Nissan

-- Jeff - Bell Buckle, TN

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3144 days

#4 posted 12-17-2009 11:03 PM

Step 1 – Slather Minwax “medium walnut” stain
Step 2 – hang head in shame

The fact that he’s staining the walnut to look like the wood he stained to look like walnut is showing me that he’s a wood abuser.

View dbhost's profile


5712 posts in 3232 days

#5 posted 12-17-2009 11:25 PM

Well, it will certainly be cheaper that way…

Simply apply Minwax Dark Walnut stain per MFG directions, and pray the results are what you wanted…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3286 days

#6 posted 12-18-2009 12:04 AM

Charlie, if that weren’t so funny, it might have beeen rude. I like the way you think.

Now, in answer to your question, I would probably go to a professional paint store if there is one in your area. They can custom mix colors, or recommend something they have in stock.
Otherwise you can get stains from the box stores and experiment until you get the look you want. It’s ok to mix colors together to tweak it, just use the same type stain, preferably the same brand. You can also get a better look by staining, sealing, sanding, and then putting a glaze over that. It evens out everything. I used to refinish furniture professionally and did this all the time. It’s been so long, I don’t know what brands are available anymore. I know this is complicated. Might have been easier to build it out of walnut—huh? If you need any more help, let me know.



View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3131 days

#7 posted 12-18-2009 01:56 AM

Although the Wood article tells you how they did it, they also tell ou that it’s nearly impossible to do it.

“Remember, all wood falls into three basic wood-grain categories: coarse-grained, such as oak and ash; medium-grained, like mahogany and walnut; and fine-grained, as found in cherry, maple, and yellow poplar. Because it’s nearly impossible to make wood with one type of grain look like one with another type, select a look-alike wood with the same general grain features as the one you want to imitate.”

Imo, you can maybe get the poplar to look like the color of Walnut, but it’ll never “look like” walnut.

-- Gerry,

View rhett's profile


742 posts in 3667 days

#8 posted 12-18-2009 02:49 AM

You will never fool a woodworker by trying to making wood A look like wood B. You can however fool 90% of the population. My brother-in-law recently bought a house and was telling me about the nice walnut cabinetry. They are walnut stained oak cabinets. I am sure your sister will love it either way.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3561 days

#9 posted 12-18-2009 06:05 AM


I built the stacking shelves as described in the March 2009 issue of Wood magazine.

The article said to use RIT clothing dye, but after a few test boards decided to use water based Transtint dye instead. ( I used poplar and birch plywood as specified in the article.)

As you can see from the photos they turned out pretty nice, BUT, would I do it that way again? NO!

The general process was:
Raise grain and lightly sand
Mix stain and stain sample boards, adjust until desired color achieved.
Start applying stain to project.
Run out of stain and have to order more
Find it difficult to match original color.
Wash off original stain.
Observe that grain raised again
lightly sand
Restain because sanding lightened colorl
Observe that grain raised again
Determine that I’m caught in an endless loop
Apply first coat of Poly U oil based varnish
lightly sand
Repeat about 3 more times.
Rub last coat with 0000 steel wool
Apply coat of Johnson paste wax with 0000 steel wool, and buff.

Stacking Shelves

Stacking Shelves

-- Joe

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