Finishing poplar

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by jrob3fz, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. 61fury

    61fury Friend of Leo's

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    I've seen some of these before, you've got a great eye, those designs and attention to detail are spot on. I especially like the pickguard and the cut of the pickguard to follow the bridgeplate on the Jazzcaster. And the paint on all of them looks perfect.
    Really, really nice.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
  2. Crobbins

    Crobbins Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    A poplar body Strat I had built in 1983.

    [​IMG]

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    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
  3. Snfoilhat

    Snfoilhat Tele-Afflicted

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    Big box hardware store poplar
    IMG_3569.JPG
    Sanded and finished with a few coats of boiled linseed oil.

    I thought the worry about poplar was in buying a board or a blank or a body sight unseen because it may have mineral streaks. Are people here saying that the wood may turn streaky after finishing or with age and be an unpleasant surprise?
     
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  4. Dynaman

    Dynaman TDPRI Member

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    My understanding is poplar doesnt look great unpainted, as previously mentioned.

    To finish your guitar, check out: https://www.reranch.com/solids.htm

    Lots of info on there.

    Scott
     
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  5. dougstrum

    dougstrum Tele-Afflicted

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    Poplar is strong, light, and easy to work.

    For finishing it's great for painting, and also takes stain well. For an example of how nice poplar looks with stain just look at AndyPanda's pic of his P bass.
     
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  6. beerguy

    beerguy Tele-Meister

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    Sorry; the first two photos I posted in post #17 were not a Poplar guitar, they were NW Alder.

    Here are the correct photos of the Poplar guitar I built, and you can clearly see the green tint. Probably wouldn't be too pretty under a clear finish.

    mocked up, 3:4.jpg nHPB3TU5Qu203wVId0rzRQ.jpg
     
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  7. beerguy

    beerguy Tele-Meister

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    Thanks 61fury! Are you a Mopar man by any chance?
     
  8. 61fury

    61fury Friend of Leo's

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    I like MOPAR's but don't claim any special relationship with them. My 8th grade teacher had a 61 and it was ugly until it became oddly beautiful. Parents had a 69 Satellite Station wagon. I love Valiant convertibles and 68 roadrunners. Of course I found Christine totally badass. Other than that , my wife and I inherited a 78 Chrysler Lebaron, white with red vinyl top and crushed velveteen interior. Like a sofa on wheels it was, one finger steering and invisible to cops back when we needed it.
     
  9. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes, poplar is classified as a hardwood, although it is one of the softer of the hardwoods.

    It works very nicely, and is pretty stable after it's dried. I like working with it much better than the more expensive pine which poplar is generally used for as a replacement :).

    Some poplar is greenish or even purple colored and occasionally streaky, but there is also a lot of it that is more of a cream color or a light tan. I think some of that green or purple or streaky-ness comes from what sort of soil the trees grew in.

    Occasionally, you'll find some really nice stuff with a pretty grain, or burling, and even birds-eye.

    There is more poplar used for guitars than you might think. Both Fender and Gibson have used it. Fender used it on some solid-bodies and Gibson uses it for layering up some it's plywood which is used on semi-hollows.

    Poplar takes stain really well. I used poplar for all the stained trim on a series of 12 different Fifth/Third banks I built. The color sample we matched up to was a faux-cherry color that looked very nice and even surprised more than a few people when they found out it was just regular old poplar that we were using :).

    I still have over 1,000 bd. ft. of poplar stashed up in the attic. There is an assortment of crown molding, chair-rail, and door and window casing in the pile, but most it is plain S4S 1" stock. I've been slowly working through the pile, and you'll see it show up in a lot of my jigs and fixtures.

    I think poplar has gotten a bad rap, it's a good reasonably priced wood.

    Some folks might even consider it a "tone-wood" ;).


    .
     
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  10. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    There are a number of species that are called "poplar". From the standpoint of woodworking, most of the poplar is Tulip Poplar/Yellow Poplar/Liriodendron tulipifera which is a member of the magnolia family. It's a huge part of the domestic furniture industry in the US. It's a hardwood for sure, but certainly "less hard" than cherry, maple, etc. I've had a few thousand board feet of my property milled since the early 2000s and I really like working with it. What I like about it is that it can "become" other, more expensive species, visually through dye and other finishing techniques and it works easily. I do not like using pigment stains on it, however...it can get "muddy" like pine does. The heartwood when fresh cut/milled may have a greenish tinge to it, but that fades to a warm brown fairly quickly. Some material (usually from box-store sources, etc) may have mineral staining (darker blue/black/green streaking, so those particular pieces are not often used for show pieces but are perfectly good to use for secondary wood purposes.

    Small trivia...the Tulip Poplar is an important early season nectar and pollen source for honey bees. Professor Dr. SWMBO keeps honey bees so we're thankful that we have so much of this tree nearby.
     
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  11. PapaWheelie

    PapaWheelie Tele-Meister

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    I've made many guitars from poplar as it is more readily available in 8/4 than most others around here, it wood works well and sounds good. I think much of the poplar has a more interesting grain pattern than a lot of alder guitars I have seen - not all definitely - but some alder and pine can be pretty plain Jane. Although I haven't done any butterscotch, I have finished several using only lacquer by applying coats of lacquer toner under the clear and over the lacquer vinyl sealer. Think of it like applying a tint to the wood. You can still see the grain but in a see through tinted finish. Behlens lacquer toner in a rattle can worked well for me. By applying coat after coat of tone you can get the finish you want and even do a see through burst by applying the same tint in more layers around the edges. Looks good. The toner is available in several shades.
     
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