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Poplar for turning?

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by John Torchick, Jul 5, 2020.

  1. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Southeast Tennessee
    Got a project- turn four legs for a small foot stool. Lowe's has poplar dowel in various lengths and diameters. How is it to turn? Suggestions?
     
  2. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Poplar is soft. You can easily dent it with a thumbnail.
    Poplar turns really well and is used a lot in architectural work that is painted.

    it may work well for a footstool which is unlikely to get dented and If it does get the odd dent it will just add character.

    I wouldn’t use it for a bar stool where people will rest their feet on the stretchers.

    if I were using poplar, I’d go the Lakeland Mill and Hardwood (you must have a real lumber yard in your area) and buy a board out of their rack.
    I can always do better price wise with wider selection at a lumber store than the big box store.
    Most lumber dealers like woodturners even though we don’t but much from them.
     
  3. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    Excellent for some thing you are going to paint. Note here, if you are painting, don't sand above 150 grit so the paint has some thing to stick to. Not very structurally strong for furniture. It does turn fairly easily. If I was going to make an heirloom stool for a kid, I would make it out of oak or hickory, as they would survive most of what kids of all ages can throw at it.... I also would opt for lumber rather than dowel stock. You will get more for your money. Also, dowel stock can be highly variable in grain orientation, as in you might get cross grain and knots, where with board stock you can be more selective.

    robo hippy
     
  4. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Thanks. This is a small foot stool, 15x17 and about 18 inches high. We have one but it's too high for the sofa. Get hip cramps if we sit too long. Have some other alternatives. Will start new thread as I need to take some photos of the log.
     
  5. Don Wattenhofer

    Don Wattenhofer

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    TableRubeck3.JPG The legs and apron on this table were made of "southern yellow poplar" and painted. The poplar like this is available all over the country from dealers that serve the custom cabinet industry and I am guessing that you may be located in the area or near where it is harvested.
     
  6. brian horais

    brian horais

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    John, I buy the poplar 2 inch by 2 inch leg blanks at Lowes and use these for practice and demos with multi-axis turning. The wood turns easily, is better to turn than pine and sands well. If you are looking for something to finish with paint or a solid stain, poplar works well. Otherwise, it is rare to find interesting grain in poplar.
     
    Mike Adams likes this.
  7. Mark Jundanian

    Mark Jundanian

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    And then there's that green heartwood, now if you could find a large bowl blank that was all heartwood you could make something interesting.
     
  8. Donovan Bailey

    Donovan Bailey

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    Location:
    Gainesville, VA
    Yellow poplar gets a bum rap from turners in my area. Yes, it is a "soft" hardwood but if you cut from a mature tree then you get colors that rival about any other wood. I just made a cookie jar out of poplar and the wood was from an old poplar tree that was 6'3" at the base. In fact, 2 other experienced turners told me to come and pickup some wood from this giant "walnut" tree. They couldn't believe it was a poplar tree when I told them what it was. Purples, oranges, reds...beautiful. It is a fairly fast growing tree so if you are cutting from something around 14 inches then it is true that the wood will be rather nondescript. However, if you get wood from an old/mature tree then it is a treat to turn, sand, and finish...and you will keep an eye out for these old beauties going forward.
     
    hockenbery likes this.
  9. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Looking to turn legs from 2 in. poplar dowel from Lowe's. Thinking of some other wood I have on the shop- cut, split, plane, turn.
    Story- I was pastor in a small town in central KY. A local church bought the house and property next door for parking. The local volunteer fire crew was going to use the house for practice. Tore off siding and revealed 1x14 poplar boards run at 45 degree angle. My father watched and wondered how much $$$$ that was worth.
     

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