Finishing poplar

I am making some low material price bookcases for my three young grand kids.
I chose poplar due to the price.
Finishing has been a night mare.
I’ve tried using shellac as a sealer and another sanding sealer and I have failed to get suitable results.
Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated.

since stay at home order I have been spending all day in my shop


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Graywolf

Board of Directors, Vice President
Richard
Corporate Member
Yep some pictures would help with a diagnosis of the situation. I have simply used amber shellac on poplar with stunning results. How are you applying the material, and like Chris asked any stain or dye?
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
I bought some used dressers many years ago that had been painted a few times and the paint was chipped badly. But they were well built and in good shape otherwise.

So I removed all the old paint and found mixed hardwoods underneath. Some of it was poplar and some maple. I got it all cleaned and sanded then used some dark walnut stain to hide the difference in wood color then three thin coats of polyurethane.

My wife was surprised and very pleased with the results and we still use them after 25 years.
 

zdorsch

Zach
Senior User
What’s not suitable? Is it blotchy? Not accepting stain?

I’ve finished poplar with a natural stain and clear oil based poly, with a dark walnut stain with water based poly and cherry stain follows by oil poly.

While not fooling the trained eye, poplar is often used with stain as a cherry substitute.
 
What’s not suitable? Is it blotchy? Not accepting stain?

I’ve finished poplar with a natural stain and clear oil based poly, with a dark walnut stain with water based poly and cherry stain follows by oil poly.

While not fooling the trained eye, poplar is often used with stain as a cherry substitute.
 
Blotching is the problem.
I’ve tried sealing with shellac 2 lb and so Minwax sealer on separate pieces and than tried a coat of both.

I am trying to use walnut stain and not dye.
 

zdorsch

Zach
Senior User
I’ll have to see if I can find the Wood magazine article, but from memory I used a dark brown or black dye over bare poplar followed by walnut stain for one poplar side table. The grain was still visible when close and from far it looks dark brown or black.

I have also used general finishes java gel stain over poplar without wiping it off. A thin layer allowed to dry and then I coated with GF arm r seal. the frames are a nice deep brown with some grain visible.


Blotching is the problem.
I’ve tried sealing with shellac 2 lb and so Minwax sealer on separate pieces and than tried a coat of both.

I am trying to use walnut stain and not dye.
 

Graywolf

Board of Directors, Vice President
Richard
Corporate Member
You know I have stained poplar several times and I have never had a blotching problem. I sand to 150, apply a sanding sealer, lightly sand with 150 again, wipe on the stain and then wipe it off, let dry usually over night and then decide if more color is needed. If yes then I wipe on and then wipe off the stain to again let it dry at least 8 hours. From there it’s either more color or top coats of what ever your poison. Me I like shellac or lacquer, mainly because I can build a suitable finish fast and not have to wait days to sand and re-coat.
 

walnutjerry

Jerry
Senior User
Blotching is the problem.
I’ve tried sealing with shellac 2 lb and so Minwax sealer on separate pieces and than tried a coat of both.

I am trying to use walnut stain and not dye.
I have experienced the same problems. My solution was to use a water soluble dye first and let it dry. I followed that with wiped on oil base stain and top coated with oil base urethane. I was happy with the outcome.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
I am making some low material price bookcases for my three young grand kids.
I chose poplar due to the price.
Gel stains are not as prone to cause splotching because they don't penetrate much into the surface. I'm surprised that your shellac sealer didn't prevent splotching.

Pictures would be helpful too.
 

Ed Fasano

Ed
Senior User
The only problem with stained poplar is the fact that it looks like stained poplar. As such...
+1 on clear coat or paint.
 

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