Poplar stained to look like oak

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by Charlie75 posted 01-27-2014 11:50 AM 5618 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Charlie75's profile


312 posts in 2293 days

01-27-2014 11:50 AM

Topic tags/keywords: oak poplar

I am almost finished with the construction of a storage cabinet to go in our bedroom. The rest of the furniture is stained to look like oak. I want to see if I can make this new cabinet look a little like oak. I probably can’t match the other furniture perfectly but would like to come as close as I can.

Any suggestions?


-- Charlie75, Alto

7 replies so far

View pmayer's profile


1028 posts in 3093 days

#1 posted 01-27-2014 12:39 PM

Hi Charlie,

I would grab a couple pieces of scrap poplar from your project, along with a piece of furniture (or a part of one) that you are trying to match, and bring them to a good paint store and have them create a custom stain for your project. Hirshfields provides this service for free, and perhaps others do as well. Some charge a small fee for this service. That way, you will have a good match, and you will also have the recipe for future batches if necessary.

With poplar, I believe that you will also want to use a pre-stain conditioner to minimize the blotching. They can provide you with some guidance on this at the paint store, and also use it in their matching process because it might impact the formulation of your stain.

-- PaulMayer,

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 2704 days

#2 posted 01-27-2014 02:21 PM

It sounds like a big cabinet. More to see every imperfection in a faux finish.

I assume you are planning to use a graining tool, maybe tooth brush spray for effect. It’s not easy to get oak grain right without a lot of practice and an artist’s touch. You could end up with a real mess.

It doesn’t help if you have a perfect example of the real thing nearby to compare it to. Not to mention, you can’t fake the indented grain of oak.

Poplar is a great wood for furniture that is painted. You can stain it too, maybe do an antique effect, leaving stain in the cracks. But it would be tough to make it look like oak. some would disagree …they’re good at it.

It seems like oak can get overwhelming when everything is oak, stained the same color. I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to do a different finish – more adapted to the poplar, that would also compliment the other oak pieces. They even do that in kitchens sometimes.

Just a thought.

View a1Jim's profile


117127 posts in 3605 days

#3 posted 01-27-2014 02:30 PM

Poplar is never going to look like oak, you can match the color of the stain you have on the oak cabinets but the grain is totally different. Another thing to consider is that poplar tends to blotch so you need a conditioner on it before you try and stain it, I prefer Charles Neil’s Blotch control.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View dhazelton's profile


2771 posts in 2325 days

#4 posted 01-27-2014 02:37 PM

You say the rest of the furniture is stained to ‘look like oak’ – not necessarily actual oak. What kind of wood is it? You’re just going to have to buy some stains and experiment with some scrap poplar. It may be a Golden Oak stain, Red Oak, a blending or or a combination of several colors.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2878 days

#5 posted 01-27-2014 02:58 PM

Oak has two colors. +1 for Mark.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View bbc557ci's profile


595 posts in 2102 days

#6 posted 01-27-2014 04:13 PM

I’ve tried it. As mentioned above you can get pretty close to the color, but it will not look like oak.

-- Bill, central where near the "big apple"

View Charlie75's profile


312 posts in 2293 days

#7 posted 01-27-2014 07:23 PM

Ok, guys. Some great advice. I did not mean to give the impression that I wanted to match the grain. I have worked with oak a lot so I know the grain is a whole different animal. I only desire to come close with the color.

Mark, great suggestion. I had not thought of that. Any suggestions?

The guys at my local Woodcraft store have told me that I should use a conditioner first which I have purchased.


-- Charlie75, Alto

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics