To use Poplar or something else?

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Forum topic by KenBry posted 10-12-2011 12:59 AM 1156 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View KenBry's profile


468 posts in 1865 days

10-12-2011 12:59 AM

I am planning on building a end table soon. This is going to be my first real piece of furnature. Well, my intent is to have the legs, base, drawer section finished black. The Top surface will be finished in Maple and Walnut natural colors. Obviously I know what I want to use on the top. What I am looking for is a good solid wood for the legs, base shelf and drawer case as well as drawer that I can finish black. Is poplar a good choice for this or does anyone have a better suggestion?

Oh and if anyone has suggestions on getting a nice smooth satin black finish I am all ears.


-- Ken, USAF MSgt, Ret.

14 replies so far

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 2486 days

#1 posted 10-12-2011 01:08 AM

Poplar paints well, but it’s difficult to stain.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View chrisstef's profile


15455 posts in 2424 days

#2 posted 10-12-2011 01:27 AM

id go poplar for painted surfaces.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View HawkDriver's profile


447 posts in 2050 days

#3 posted 10-12-2011 02:19 AM

Check my bench and coat rack projects. Poplar is a wonderful wood to paint. I used black latex on mine and the finish turned out great and is holding up well.

-- Patrick, Helicopters don't fly. They beat the air into submission.

View jumbojack's profile


1663 posts in 2041 days

#4 posted 10-12-2011 02:47 AM

You are going to love the way poplar machines. It sands smooth easily. Apply a sand able sealer then paint. Smooth as glass.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2340 days

#5 posted 10-12-2011 02:53 AM

Check out my sofa table. All poplar. I use it a lot. If you intend to stain it use a sealer for blotch control. If you paint it I’d go to at least 180. As far as strength and stability it’s used a lot for secondary wood in furniture.
Also suggest talking to Michael1 and look at his projects.
Besides it’s cheap on todays market.

-- Life is good.

View ajosephg's profile


1878 posts in 2978 days

#6 posted 10-12-2011 03:58 AM

A drawback would be that it is much softer than maple and dents easier.

-- Joe

View rance's profile


4243 posts in 2578 days

#7 posted 10-12-2011 04:03 AM

Maybe consider Oak that has been ebonized.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View dpwalker's profile


273 posts in 2249 days

#8 posted 10-12-2011 10:33 AM

I agree with ajosephg. I am building a piano bench using Poplar. It dents & scratches very easily. Or maybe I’m just too rough & clumsy with it?

-- You have not really lived until you do something for someone who can never repay you.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4403 posts in 3378 days

#9 posted 10-12-2011 04:50 PM

Poplar will woirk just fine.
A thought for ya.
Apply a dark stain of your choice. Then add the coats of black paint (a rattle can of flat black will work). Then sand through the black to reveal some of the stain on the edges and select places on the flats. This will give ya a “rub through” look that shows some additional color. Then add a semi-gloss clear top coat-water based clear won’t yellow the colors.
The contrasts will make for a special lookin’ piece.
I’ve used this technique on several projects with good results.


View HawkDriver's profile


447 posts in 2050 days

#10 posted 10-14-2011 03:06 AM

Bill, that sounds like a really neat idea, I think I might try that soon!

-- Patrick, Helicopters don't fly. They beat the air into submission.

View MNgary's profile


293 posts in 1834 days

#11 posted 10-17-2011 05:17 PM

I might ebonize some cherry—not that difficult to do, looks impresive and really increases the bragging rights. I downloaded the Walnut and ebonized Cherry picture, it’s not one of my projects.

-- I dream of the world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View KenBry's profile


468 posts in 1865 days

#12 posted 10-17-2011 09:38 PM

I really appreciate the posts here guys. So far I got my hands on a slab of 4/4 Poplar to cut up for my legs. I scored some real nice beach at less than the cost of the poplar that I will use for my sides.

-- Ken, USAF MSgt, Ret.

View DS's profile


2145 posts in 1838 days

#13 posted 10-17-2011 10:35 PM

Poplar is, for me, the paint grade hardwood of choice. Though, I have found that “natural” maple, (mineral streaks and all), can usually be a fairly inexpensive alternative when circumstances warrant.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View allmyfingers's profile


40 posts in 2063 days

#14 posted 10-18-2011 02:25 AM

“popular” is what we call it for good reason. it is our go to hardwood for face frames and painted trim work

-- I cut it 3 times and it was still too short?!?

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