Any love for staining poplar?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by eddododo, Jun 3, 2019.

  1. eddododo

    eddododo Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    I always see the same comments about transparent finishes on and poplar looking bad because of the greenish streaks. I’ve done a few humble woodworking projects and I actually LOVE the look of stained poplar, though admittedly I’m staining it darkish brown most of the time. I’m assuming the more negative view about transparent finish on poplar is in reference to non-brown dyes, and that my personal successes aren’t due to some magical talent on my end ;)

    Not sure what I’m after here, but anyone have any nice stories, pictures, horror stories, or wisdom to share on this? I’ve searched threads, I’m just being self indulgent and making sure I didn’t miss anything
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I would think a green wood with a blue stain would look awesome! It would be more blue in some place and more aqua in others.... sort of tropical sea colors.

    If I had a piece of popular lying around I would slap some bright blue stain on it to see how that played out.
  3. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Why not turn this around?

    Instead of asking people to show you how ugly it can be, why not try to convert us to how attractive it can be?

    Got any pics of your projects?
    wraub likes this.
  4. barking_spider


    Oct 7, 2018
    I think it all depends on the poplar. The stuff at Home Depot looks pretty gross, but many European poplars look nice. You could always try some wood bleach first to remove the streaks, then hit it with some wild colors!
    jchrisk1 likes this.
  5. Rôckhewer

    Rôckhewer Commercial User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Owner/Builder- RockHewer Custom Guitars LLC
    ... yeah... definitely.
    I was gonna talk poopiee about Poplar... but hey... if you dig it... more power to ya.

    You don't have to "hide" the green under brown stain either..
    Accent the green if you dig that.
    .... what the hell... do a multicolored dye job, if that yanks yer chain.
    Have fun.
    TransTint is only about $28 a bottle! ;)

    Edit: can get powdered pigment dye colors as well... way cheaper.
    eddododo likes this.
  6. jchrisk1


    Nov 15, 2009
    Northern MI
    I've seen it done lots on homes I've trimmed. Its hit or miss with the color variances of the wood. Wood bleach first would give you the best results. Other than that, it turns out nice enough.
    eddododo likes this.
  7. I used poplar for framing cornhole boards once. It was inexpensive and harder than pine. I used Minwax semi-gloss wipe on poly (I think that's what it was) and I like it. To me the green streaks give me the sense that the wood isn't fully dried (even though I know that's not the case).
  8. Freekmagnet

    Freekmagnet Commercial User

    I dyed a poplar back a medium brown once. It looked OK. I don’t know if I’d go for a lighter color besides green. Depends on the piece of wood, I guess. I’ve seen some pretty clear pieces of poplar once or twice.
  9. washjayb


    Jan 20, 2010
    Atlanta, Georgia
    I would make a top from poplar in a heartbeat if it wasn't so soft.

    If I could find some Rainbow Poplar for a top I'm building. I don't care. The green highlights have a subtle beauty that really speaks to me.
    eddododo likes this.
  10. thisSNsucks

    thisSNsucks I build Grosbeak Guitars and Basses Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    Grosbeak Guitars
    Musicman used poplar back in the 90’s on a lot of trans reds and blue bursts I believe.

    I’ve seen some roasted poplar that looked real nice. The green streaks seem to go away and it all looks like even brown. Not sure how it would take a stain though.
  11. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I make vintage baseball bats, and sometimes use poplar for large 19th century models. It stains beautifully, and when stained, the grain reminds me of maple.
  12. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    wood bleach... it's what it's for.
    petrus61 likes this.
  13. eddododo

    eddododo Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    665987B1-0007-4A22-A77A-8E9E98277703.jpeg FD82E9D3-D875-4829-8B9B-45CC0DF8C61D.jpeg Figured I’d toss this in here
    The Ryantist, tbrannon and petrus61 like this.