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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
OK...first off, I know now that I shouldn't be using poplar on stain projects. However, I only found that out AFTER I purchased all the material and already had one bookcase finished. :stupid:poplar was the only hardwood the local home store had available. (I have since found a nice local wood supply house and I won't have to depend on the local home store in the future.)

I'm building free-standing bookcases with birch veneer plywood and poplar trim.
Shelf Shelving Furniture Bookcase Wood



Fortunately we're going for a dark mahogony look so that will help cover up alot of troubles. I've made up about 8 different stain samples with oil or water based conditioners, gel or penetrating stains, etc. I'm getting kind of happy with a couple of them but the conditioner is making it hard to get good color on the wood.
Table Tile Room Furniture Wood



Anyone have any tips? As always I appreciate any advice.
 

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Poplar is a good wood to stain medium to dark color so since you are looking for a mahogany color it should work fine. The purpose of the conditioner is to keep the wood from soaking up too much stain so it doesn't go blotchy. It would work better if after using a conditioner you stained the wood close to the color you want with dye stain and then use the oil stain to give it some warmth. Mohawk makes aniline dye powders you could get through the mail and add it to alcohol to make the stain. You could also use Transtint dyes. These products can be put on by hand but are better sprayed.
 

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OK...first off, I know now that I shouldn't be using poplar on stain projects...
Poplar is a good wood to stain medium to dark color so since you are looking for a mahogany color it should work fine...
+1 all the cabinetry and woodwork in our home built last summer is Poplar. We have a darker stain on it and it doesn't look bad at all.
 

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I find that a gel stain works better for me with poplar. I say that with a disclaimer. I like to stain and do the finish right and make my projects look good. But at the same time I don't like spending a lot of time doing that. I tried the wood conditioner then stain one time and it didn't come out anything like I had hoped. Since I went to gel stain, I find that it covers very evenly due to how it does not penetrate deeply. So in the name of efficiency I use gel stain more often than any other stain and like the results I get. Plus it's a one coat application so it saves me a lot of time.
 

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I had excellent (to me) results using Old Masters gel stains. I'd read an article in Woodsmith Mag re: staining poplar and that's what they recommended. I did NOT get acceptable results with minwax gel stain; fortunately, I did a bunch of samples first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I find that a gel stain works better for me with poplar. I say that with a disclaimer. I like to stain and do the finish right and make my projects look good. But at the same time I don't like spending a lot of time doing that. I tried the wood conditioner then stain one time and it didn't come out anything like I had hoped. Since I went to gel stain, I find that it covers very evenly due to how it does not penetrate deeply. So in the name of efficiency I use gel stain more often than any other stain and like the results I get. Plus it's a one coat application so it saves me a lot of time.
So you do not use a wood conditioner anymore on poplar?
 

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info said:
Nice job so far .
Please show us the finished job when complete
If im a bit off topic forgive me, I have a problem with uneven spots in a stain job using Cabot solvent based stain, have a few thick dark spots and one streaked area. Also have some surface specs Like dust but only a couple can I steel wool those out? How can I even out the darker spots?
 

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badger1 said:
If im a bit off topic forgive me, I have a problem with uneven spots in a stain job using Cabot solvent based stain, have a few thick dark spots and one streaked area. Also have some surface specs Like dust but only a couple can I steel wool those out? How can I even out the darker spots?
I'm working with swamp ash and my sanding sequence was correct, I read some advice from here on proper technique and used equipment
 

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If im a bit off topic forgive me, I have a problem with uneven spots in a stain job using Cabot solvent based stain, have a few thick dark spots and one streaked area. Also have some surface specs Like dust but only a couple can I steel wool those out? How can I even out the darker spots?
The dark spots might be caused by not using a wood conditioner. If you want to supplement the color making the light spots look like the dark spots then the easiest way would be to put some dye stain in a sprayer and shade with it. There are also toners available in spray cans. Mohawk Finishing Products has a wide varity of products you could use. If the dark spots need to be lightened then I would use Kleen Strip paint and varnish remover and strip it.
 

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That's good advice I appreciate it I'll try it. If that doesn't work probably because of my poor skills. I think for this project I'm going to strip and start over its a guitar body and I usually use a lacquer process. I didn't use a wood pre stain treatment but the ash grain was filled with a compatible filler.

I never have issues with my normal process but I need to expand my skill set.
 

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I know purists will scoff at this, but lacquer thinner based stains sprayed on and NOT WIPED never blotch.
i was trained to do this in a furniture factory where the objective was consistency.
Gemini brand works good and sinks in and dries FAST, does not obscure grain.
Thin it out and mist it on slowly from a distance until you get desired saturation.
If you goof you can make it pretty much make it disappear by wiping it further in with straight lacquer thinner.
 
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