Poplar drawer sides

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Forum topic by ric53 posted 03-26-2017 01:24 PM 664 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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194 posts in 1661 days

03-26-2017 01:24 PM

I use poplar for 90% of my secondary wood in my projects but having a bunch of small pieces laying around I got to wondering if they could be used for drawer sides. I’m talking about desk drawers that would be 1/2” thick. Any thoughts on wood movement. I do not use mechanical drawer slides. Any thoughts on this?

-- Ric, Mazomanie

6 replies so far

View IndianaWoodworker's profile


25 posts in 1791 days

#1 posted 03-26-2017 02:36 PM

Take a look at these to get an idea of the movement of various wood species.

This chart shows the movement in a twelve inch wide board at various moisture contents, included is a formula if your region gets above 9% MC.

This map shows the MC extremes for different regions of the U.S. Use the heavy line closest to your location.

When you’re talking wood movement, there are simply too many variables involved…i.e. what wood will you use for the drawer face, back and bottom, what is the fit of the drawers, is the wood quartersawn or flatsawn, etc…to give a simple blanket answer to that question. Add to that the fact that where you’re located makes a huge difference: wood movement isn’t nearly as big of an issue in Arizona as it will be in my home state of Indiana.

Hope this helps you out.

-- Measure twice, cut once?!? But, cutting is more fun than measuring!

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5088 posts in 2635 days

#2 posted 03-26-2017 02:53 PM

I’ve used 1/2” poplar for quite a few drawers, and while they were a few problem with it, it’s never been with wood movement. Being a little softer than most hardwoods, it wears some on the slide. It’s sometimes will have a splinter that can snag fine fabrics (like panty hose) so I generally finish it with some shellac, and then smooth that. Otherwise I’d say you’re good to go.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View splintergroup's profile


2302 posts in 1364 days

#3 posted 03-26-2017 03:10 PM

Poplar is quite stable, albeit a bit soft for wear surfaces.
In the event you plan on the drawer being opened up a lot, you could add a wear surface. If the drawer slides on its base, glue on a thin strip of maple or other “hard” wood to the wear edge. If the drawer uses a side bar as a glide, you can dado in a wide piece of secondary wear wood, then dado in a narrower slot to fit the runner.

View ric53's profile


194 posts in 1661 days

#4 posted 03-26-2017 04:46 PM

Thanks for the feedback guys

-- Ric, Mazomanie

View bonesbr549's profile


1576 posts in 3208 days

#5 posted 03-26-2017 06:50 PM

Poplar will work fine. Use it when someone don’t want to pay for maple. Will it wear quicker, yea, but it will be around a long long long time after you and I are worm bait.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View ArtMann's profile (online now)


1078 posts in 957 days

#6 posted 03-26-2017 07:41 PM

I would say that poplar is the single most popular wood used in the interior construction of fine furniture. It is certainly true of the furniture in my house, some of which is quite nice.

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