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Staining/Sealing Poplar

DonMitchell's picture

I'm building a computer/ tv armoire for our bedroom and I'm making it out of poplar.  Started out thinking I would just paint the thing when I'm done but the green/cream colors in the poplar go so well with the other colors in the bedroom, the wife is wanting it clear stained/sealed instead.


This is my first big project and I'm still learning, so any advice on staining/sealing poplar to retain the natural colors would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks 

Don

Measure, cut, cuss

 

rrpm1's picture

(post #108197, reply #1 of 9)

Big D,


The first thing you need to decide is what you want it to look like when its done.  You've already decided about the color, or lack thereof, but how shiny and or hard do you want the finish?  Generally speaking, you'll want the surface to match the other items in the bedroom.


It helps me to think of finishing as a four part process: stain, seal, finish, polish.  The first two parts, stain and seal, can be fliped in order.  In your situation you only need to deal with the three parts.  When you go to the store all you see is a bunch of product names with various parts of the process in one can....very confusing.  I like to keep them seperate which gives me more control over the outcome.


Generally, I'd go with two wash coats of clear or blonde shellac, followed by at least three coats of lacquer.  This gives me a nice sealer to keep any stains from bleeding and the lacquer can be rubbed out to about any gloss I want...and a little wax on top of that.  What I don't know if if this will darken over time...maybe others can help.  


 

 

HowardAcheson's picture

(post #108197, reply #2 of 9)

You know that the green turns brown after a little exposure to the sun don't you?

If you want to keep the color as close to the original as possible, put on a couple of coats of waterborne poly varnish. If you use an oil based product, you will end up with some yellow tones.

As always, test your finish on some scraps first.

Howie.........
PaulPeter's picture

(post #108197, reply #3 of 9)

As you may be aware, poplar is considered a secondary wood, usually used in that part of furniture that is not seen because it doesn't have an attrative grain and color, especially if not stained. I use poplar a lot in furniture, both free standing and builtins, but I always paint it. I am now making a jewerly cabinet for my daughter out of poplar, but am staining it ebony and finishing it with shellac and finally wax. Again, as with paint, the grain won't show.


If you seal your piece with shellac or some other sealer, and the green turns to brown, as it will, and you are unhappy with the result, you can alway paint over it, but you won't be able to stain it, since the sealing will reject the stain.


Hope this helps. Good luck.


 

DonMitchell's picture

(post #108197, reply #4 of 9)

Yes, I'm aware that it is a secondary wood, I'm also aware that oak or any thing else is very expensive around here and with this being my first big project, I didn't want to get to deep in the cost!  I'm still learning here!  


I have heard and read that it turns brown over time.  The turning brown is what I'm hoping to avoid.  If sunlight is the problem, how about using something with UV protectors in it?  Would that help with preventing the color change?


As I said, my original plan was to paint it, and I may end up there yet, but the colors in the wood right now are very striking and my wife was wanting to keep that.


Thanks to all of you for the advice, I'll keep researching it since I still have a ways to go in the construction.  Any advice on the use of UV protecters to prevent the browning would be appreciated.

Don

Measure, cut, cuss

 

HowardAcheson's picture

(post #108197, reply #5 of 9)

At best, using a clear finish with UV inhibitors will delay the color change somewhat but not prevent it. Finishes that contain UV inhibitors are generally very amber and that will change the color of the wood too. BTW, UV inhibitors are added to finishes to protect the finish, not the substrate.

Howie.........
jazzdogg's picture

(post #108197, reply #8 of 9)

"Yes, I'm aware that it is a secondary wood, I'm also aware that oak or any thing else is very expensive around here and with this being my first big project, I didn't want to get to deep in the cost!  I'm still learning here!  "


Big D,


You didn't say where "here" is, but there are many affordable secondary woods in addition to poplar. For example, here on the west coast, red alder is an inexpensive alternative to the more common harwood species. It's beautiful, is easy to dye or stain to "fake" a more expensive species, and is very forgiving to work with, although a little soft.


You might want to consider checking with other woodworkers in your area to see what other options you have. Where are you located?


Good luck,


-Jazzdogg-


Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right.

-Jazzdogg-

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Gil Bailie

DonMitchell's picture

(post #108197, reply #9 of 9)

I'm in Arizona.  Like I said, I'm just getting started in this hobby and really want to keep costs down for now.  I've ruined enough pieces of good wood to know that I still have a lot of practicing to do before I can trust myself with expensive wood on larger projects!


Thanks everyone for the information and advice.  I appreciate it!

Don

Measure, cut, cuss

 

Mackwood's picture

(post #108197, reply #6 of 9)

Big D,


I hate to be negative but I think you should stick to your original plan.  Paint the poplar!!  That's what poplar does best---hold paint.  Does that very well!  Staining, dyeing, etc. will give you lots of extra work with maybe a bummer at the end (turning brown).  However, as someone mentioned, if you're not happy with the result, you can always paint after you try to stain, etc.  Best of luck!!


Mack


"WISH IN ONE HAND, S--T IN THE OTHER AND SEE WHICH FILLS UP FIRST"

"Close enough for government work=measured with a micrometer, marked with chalk and cut with an axe"

DonMitchell's picture

(post #108197, reply #7 of 9)

Paint it is!  I really don't have the time to fuss with it and if I have to go back and paint it I will be really behind on my other projects.  Thanks to everyone for the advice.

Don

Measure, cut, cuss