Poplar finish

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Forum topic by Micah Muzny posted 10-20-2013 02:39 AM 3161 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Micah Muzny

185 posts in 1726 days

10-20-2013 02:39 AM

Today in Lowes I was down the wood isle and decided to get some wood to build a small table from some plans I was looking at just for fun. Walking down the isle I come to poplar wood, it catches my eye and I liked the way it looked and figured I would try it and see how it turns out. Well now I do my research AFTER I bought my wood and have discovered there are some difficulties to putting the finish on poplar. I hear that with stains it tends to be blotchy so I wondering about dyes. I have never used a dye before so I was considering trying it if it will be any easier to work with than stain. I would like to darken the wood but keep the grain lines visible so I would prefer not to paint unless every other option will be a headache. Anyone have any ideas or advice with working with poplar? Which would be easiest to do, stain or dye? The boards I got have a good amount of the green in it, I thought it was unique, but now see that it is troublesome…

I see on another site someone sealed with linseed oil and then dewaxed shellac and then added a toner. I am not sure what all that means lol but his picture of his guitar looks awesome!

What is the difference in raw linseed and boiled? Besides one is raw and one is boiled….

14 replies so far

View coachmancuso's profile


259 posts in 1925 days

#1 posted 10-20-2013 02:59 AM

I use poplar a lot and I use min wax walnut stain and then put brush on poly gloss and it looks really nice. Sand it before you stain it down to 600 grit.

-- Coach Mancuso

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2087 days

#2 posted 10-20-2013 08:45 AM

I don’t know much about staining polar but I did want to warn you that from what I can tell Lowe’s and Home Depot charge outrageous prices for poplar. You may want to look elsewhere if you plan to get more.

View WDHLT15's profile


1741 posts in 2470 days

#3 posted 10-20-2013 11:56 AM

Dye blotches less. You can use a pre-stain/dye conditioner to lessen the impact of blotching.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1886 days

#4 posted 10-20-2013 12:17 PM

^ Agree with WDHLT15. Pre-sand, use wood conditioner liberally and stain the day after – your poplar should come out fine. Same goes with pine, spruce and fir.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View cutmantom's profile


405 posts in 3029 days

#5 posted 10-20-2013 12:21 PM

I have seen both used on poplar door in a walnut paneled room and you really had to look hard to tell it wasn’t walnut, dye first then stain, pre-stain conditioner may be needed, experiment on scrap with different methods

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2266 days

#6 posted 10-20-2013 01:26 PM


I have used this product and method with success using a Cherry tint on poplar.

Here are a couple of videos that should help you understand the process.

Charles Neil finishing Tips.

Best Regards. – Len

Work Safely and have Fun.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3137 days

#7 posted 10-20-2013 01:35 PM

I usually use poplar when it’s going to be painted, but I have used Minwax ebony stain and it looked OK. Pre sanded to 220 , no pre conditioner, scuff sand in between coats of polyurethane and clean. I also believe you should check out GrandpaLen’s links, as Charles is the top of the food chain when it comes to finishing.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2678 days

#8 posted 10-20-2013 02:43 PM

I never had a problem with poplar using MinWax. I finished out the entire house with it using “Provincial” (#211). I didn’t use pre-stain and only sanded to 220. If applied according to the instructions, it is still a bit wet and the final wipe down has never shown a blotch.

Prices? Yeah they should be ashamed. Since my local doesn’t stock it I had to buy the whole lot of the special order which came in mixed lengths ranging from 7’ to 16’. As I recall it was $1.40 per foot for 1×6, $1 per foot for 1×4. With several windows and door frames and the fire place mantel and the cabinet face frames/door stiles and rails and drawers, the pile disappeared pretty quickly. And just as a side note, I made the window casings from the 1×6 material, ripped and resawed. I got 4 pieces out of a board that way and dropped the cost to 35cents per foot (I’m cheap). Planed down it isn’t quite as thick as stock casing but close enough.

View a1Jim's profile


117086 posts in 3571 days

#9 posted 10-20-2013 03:00 PM

Poplar is on the top of the list of woods that will blotch ,I strongly recommend Charles Neil’s blotch control. Before I found out about wood conditioner poplar always blotched when I stained it.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2355 days

#10 posted 10-20-2013 04:25 PM

Why don’t you buy a book on finishing (Flexner’s is OK) and educate yourself a bit before seeking advice on this forum. What you’ll get here ranges from knowledgeable opinion to instruction on using chicken shit and rainwater.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2087 days

#11 posted 10-21-2013 01:30 AM

I certainly don’t speak for the whole community here but I must respectfully disagree with Mr. Searl on one point: I think it’s fine to post on here asking for assistance.

I do however recommend Flexner’s book (Understanding Wood Finishing). I found it extremely helpful, though I don’t believe there was anything specific in it on poplar.

Charles Neil is also an expert on finishing.

View Dave Carlisle's profile

Dave Carlisle

69 posts in 2149 days

#12 posted 10-21-2013 01:37 AM

I have done several projects with poplar. I used wood conditioner from Porter Paints and then a dark cherry gel stain from General Finishes. Projects really looked good!!

-- Woodworking Principal

View a1Jim's profile


117086 posts in 3571 days

#13 posted 10-21-2013 01:40 AM

Charles Neil has a new book coming out that will cover all the basis on all of the updated finishes and techniques .

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

932 posts in 2228 days

#14 posted 10-21-2013 01:44 AM

Charles Neil’s Blotch Control works, period. It will save you a lot of time and help you dye the wood as you wish.

-- Jerry

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