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Suntanning poplar

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Forum topic by Travis posted 04-10-2019 05:29 PM 565 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Travis

302 posts in 276 days


04-10-2019 05:29 PM

I’m considering a project using poplar, which will likely be painted. But, in thinking about other potential uses for poplar that don’t involve painting, I was wondering about ways to change its color.

I know you can do some special preparations to get good results from stains/dyes, but I’m not ready to stretch my coloring skills that far yet. I have heard you can also use oxalic acid, but I have small kids and don’t want to mess with the toxic substance.

I’ve also heard you can put poplar in the sun for a bit and it will turn the greens to brown. That would be my preferred method because it’s easy, natural, and we have plenty of the free stuff in Arizona. However, I tried “suntanning” cherry before and I think the ends started to split a bit. I spoke with someone else who suggested the surface in the sun was heating up more than the shaded surface, which could impact the moisture content and cause splitting/warping. I could imagine that happening if I’m leaving it out in 115 degree summer sun, but on cooler days? What has your experience been in trying to suntan poplar (or wood in general)?

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.


27 replies so far

View hkmiller's profile

hkmiller

161 posts in 591 days


#1 posted 04-10-2019 05:32 PM

If you suntan your wood I would probably use Coppertone SPF 15 that’s usually a good choice

-- always something

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Travis

302 posts in 276 days


#2 posted 04-10-2019 06:04 PM



If you suntan your wood I would probably use Coppertone SPF 15 that s usually a good choice

- hkmiller

LOL, I’ll make sure and use a roller when applying so I don’t get splinters :)

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

View pottz's profile

pottz

6349 posts in 1494 days


#3 posted 04-10-2019 06:06 PM


If you suntan your wood I would probably use Coppertone SPF 15 that s usually a good choice

- hkmiller

LOL, I ll make sure and use a roller when applying so I don t get splinters :)

- Travis


and wear a hat travis-lol.sorry i couldn’t resist.not sure about poplar in the sun though.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View Mr_Pink's profile

Mr_Pink

173 posts in 881 days


#4 posted 04-10-2019 06:34 PM

Given my Midwestern(ish) location, the main problem I’ve had with tanning wood in the sun is unreliable weather. As a result, I ordered a UV bulb for reptiles off of Amazon. It doesn’t work as fast as full summer sun exposure, but the object can be exposed to light around the clock without exposure to unusual heat or (lack of) humidity.

Just remember that UV light is still bad for human eyes.

View Robert's profile

Robert

3537 posts in 1990 days


#5 posted 04-10-2019 06:49 PM

I don’t ever recommend “suntanning” any kind of wood because the length of time it takes to get an effect will likely (as you observed) result in some undesirable movement issues.

I suppose if you ran out there and flipped it over every 30 mins…...

But there’s better ways to color wood.

Don’t be afraid of dyes. Experiment!! Get some unpigmented poplar and try some cherry or cinnamon dye you’ll get something almost indistinguishable from real cherry.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Travis's profile

Travis

302 posts in 276 days


#6 posted 04-10-2019 07:04 PM



I don t ever recommend “suntanning” any kind of wood because the length of time it takes to get an effect will likely (as you observed) result in some undesirable movement issues.

I suppose if you ran out there and flipped it over every 30 mins…...

But there s better ways to color wood.

Don t be afraid of dyes. Experiment!! Get some unpigmented poplar and try some cherry or cinnamon dye you ll get something almost indistinguishable from real cherry.

- Robert

I figured the “suntanning” would be too good to be true. I’ll have to develop those wood coloring skills eventually, at least poplar is an affordable wood to practice on!

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

View BalsaWood's profile

BalsaWood

157 posts in 1668 days


#7 posted 04-10-2019 07:50 PM

I have sun tanned poplar before and it came out nice for a desk I made. What I did was complete the desk first and then leave it outside for a few hours in the sun and it developed a light brown color. Had no issues with movement and the desk is solid after a few years of being heavily used. Poplar is a very stable wood and costs cheap so leaving out some pieces in the sun shouldn’t be a big deal.

View LeeRoyMan's profile

LeeRoyMan

283 posts in 236 days


#8 posted 04-10-2019 08:28 PM

If you want dark brown poplar without staining loook into Thermally Modified Poplar

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

994 posts in 3302 days


#9 posted 04-10-2019 08:47 PM

Put some on a rotisserie in the sun with the grill off and it should tan evenly.

View SMP's profile

SMP

1392 posts in 415 days


#10 posted 04-10-2019 10:14 PM

Just don’t use the tanning beds, or else it will turn into Trumplar.

Bet in seriousness i have accidentally tanned it in my garage through the windows, but the green hasn’t completely gone. If i can find a piece in my stack I’ll post a pic. So i pretty much stick to GF oil or gel stains, super easy and consistent and actually turn out real nice.

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

994 posts in 3302 days


#11 posted 04-10-2019 11:34 PM

Complete with white eyespots.

View sawdustdad's profile

sawdustdad

379 posts in 1394 days


#12 posted 04-11-2019 01:32 AM

If I were unhappy with the color of poplar, I think I’d be looking for another species.

-- Murphy's Carpentry Corollary #3: Half of all boards cut to a specific length will be too short.

View Travis's profile

Travis

302 posts in 276 days


#13 posted 04-11-2019 02:40 AM



I have sun tanned poplar before and it came out nice for a desk I made. What I did was complete the desk first and then leave it outside for a few hours in the sun and it developed a light brown color. Had no issues with movement and the desk is solid after a few years of being heavily used. Poplar is a very stable wood and costs cheap so leaving out some pieces in the sun shouldn t be a big deal.

- BalsaWood

Hmm…I imagine the joinery will help keep everything in position. I would worry about unequal exposure though. It doesn’t sound like that was a problem.

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

View Travis's profile

Travis

302 posts in 276 days


#14 posted 04-11-2019 02:41 AM



Put some on a rotisserie in the sun with the grill off and it should tan evenly.

- ibewjon

Ha! Reminds me of a Seinfeld episode….. :)

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

View Travis's profile

Travis

302 posts in 276 days


#15 posted 04-11-2019 02:41 AM



Just don’t use the tanning beds, or else it will turn into Trumplar.

Bet in seriousness i have accidentally tanned it in my garage through the windows, but the green hasn’t completely gone. If i can find a piece in my stack I’ll post a pic. So i pretty much stick to GF oil or gel stains, super easy and consistent and actually turn out real nice.

- SMP

Good to know, I’ll check those products out. Thanks!

-- The plan is wrong; my finished piece is right.

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