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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Before you get into exotic wood, I only have a few available selections from the big box stores. I have oak, birch, fir and pine plywood. For boards, I have oak, poplar, pine and fir.

What I’m really concerned about is the finish. I’m thinking about birch plywood with poplar to save money but I have no idea what’s going to happen with the finish. Can the poplar and the birch be stained to match and what color?

I could also go all oak plywood and boards, but I’m not sure of how to do the fold down table. Plywood would be easy for both Birch and Oak, but I have the end grain to deal with.
 

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Wood selection really will depend on style and finish desired.

Are you making a Chippendale style secretary desk or something more humble?

Plywood with solid wood edgings would be the most economical and produce the lightest weight finished product in my opinion. Finishing should be easier, as getting small amounts of solid wood to match should be inexpensive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Are you making a Chippendale style secretary desk or something more humble?.
I don't know what a Chippendale is, but I was looking for something like this


But then I saw this. I don't know if I can make something like this but I would like to try.


There is some plans in a wood magazine that I have, but I have to find it because I don't remember what it looks like. I just want drawers and not cabinet doors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Years ago I bought the wife a Secretary Desk as a last minute Christmas gift from J.C. Penney. It had to be ordered and I had it delivered to the house only it didn’t arrive until well after Christmas. When I finally received it, it was packed in a cardboard box from China and it stunk so bad we had to leave it out on the front porch. We used everything we could think of to remove the odor, but it still took about 3 weeks before we could bring it inside.

The fold down table broke off right away and when I tried to fix it I discovered that it was some sort of Chinese MDF not like anything I’ve seen in the USA but more like pressed cardboard. Also when I turned it around to see if I could get it apart I discovered that it was filled with bondo due to the bad milling.

Anyway I really like the desk and want to make one just like it but without the bondo and MDF.
 

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+ 1 oak
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well it looks like oak it is, Thanks. :smile:
 

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A lot depends on the stain color and the poplar if you can mix birch and poplar. Poplar runs from white to green to black so if you are going light you might have to dig to the bottom of the stack of wood to find enough poplar nearly white in color to use. If the stain color runs from medium to dark in color then you could get away with using the more common green wood. It's very common for furniture companies to build a piece of furniture out of poplar and veneer the top with walnut or mahogany and stain it with a walnut or mahogany stain.
 

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Mr,Sleeper if you take a drive down the hill to petermans lumber in Fontana you can find lots of wood to choose from. Some expensive some not.Lyptus is one that come to mind they got tons of it.
I am a big fan of choosing wood in the color you want instead of trying to stain something.
Thought your story about the china furniture was very funny.No disrespect meant.Aj
 

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Sleeper, the first pic is very nice and do able in a short time. The second picture is more advanced and certainly a longer build.

For your woodworking edification :smile: Secretary Desk second picture on the right :thumbsup:

Some great advice has been given, oak is good to work with. The open pore structure can be filled to give a smoother surface if you like.

As for the use of poplar, you can still work with the greens that run through the wood. In order to stain the piece you may have to resort to spraying the piece with your stain and build up coats of tinted topcoat - essentially toning the piece to get the correct color.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Sleeper, the first pic is very nice and do able in a short time. The second picture is more advanced and certainly a longer build.

For your woodworking edification :smile: Secretary Desk second picture on the right :thumbsup:

Some great advice has been given, oak is good to work with. The open pore structure can be filled to give a smoother surface if you like.

As for the use of poplar, you can still work with the greens that run through the wood. In order to stain the piece you may have to resort to spraying the piece with your stain and build up coats of tinted topcoat - essentially toning the piece to get the correct color.
Thanks for the info. Wow I looked at the Chippendale and that's way out of my league.

Anyway, I have two 4x8 pieces of 3/4" oak plywood that I've had for a long time but when I was at home depot I noticed that they had some birch that looked like it was a lot better quality than what I had because it had a lot more layers. I didn't count them but the edge really looked solid compared to my oak.

The wife and I are really like the second photo especially with the drawers on the side because it will work great where we are going to put it. The only drawback is that we can not have the the hutch thing on top because we have light switches above the secretary deck.



My wife really wants the top hutch or whatever it's called and is trying to figure out how to rearrange the living room, but our Christmas display causes a problem during the holidays.
 

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There is an advantage to using plywoods that their species is available in the three thicknesses, and available in solid wood. Much better and easier than trying to match Poplar or birch to Oak, or mixing up hardwoods and trying to make them look alike. Each has their own characteristic properties.

Since you already have ¾" Red Oak plywood, I suggest you use it. If you need it in ½", or ¼", it wouldn't be a problem. When you look at a project and see the entire finished piece, it's easy to think it's beyond your skills. But, The whole project is made up of small sequential steps done one at a time. Try looking at a project for the parts involved, and you'll see that figuring out how to do the parts, will finally be the whole thing.

Just say to yourself...what do I have to do to make that. Take out a pad and pencil, and start with a rough overall sketch. From that you can break it apart to what has to be cut and how to fit the parts together. And, best of all, you have all of us to help you.:yes:






.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks Cabinetman, I’ve been up most of the night thinking about that secretary deck in the last photo I posted and I’m not sure if there will even be a place for ¾” plywood except for the desk top. I may also be able to use it for the drawer fronts depending on how I do the drawers..

I don’t have a plan yet but I was thing about using 2x2 legs and Mortise and tenon cross pieces with ¼” plywood panels.

I don’t have a lath and I was looking at table legs and stair posts for something to adapt to, but the turned sections are too long so I may have to just tapper the legs at the bottom.

The "steps" part is what I have to really think out because my last cabinet could have been so much easier if I had gone in the correct order. This one is a lot more complicated and I suspect that I’ll ask before moving along to quickly
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Wow, I wish I had the patience to do this

 
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