Tulip poplar

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Forum topic by Blackcatbone posted 10-07-2014 02:33 PM 1264 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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32 posts in 2428 days

10-07-2014 02:33 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing poplar

I know, a lot of people don’t like poplar or think it’s best painted, but I’m rather fond of it and its color variation and have actually had pretty good luck getting an even stain on it. I sand up to 220, wipe down with a damp rag then finish with 320. Anyhow, I’m fixing a lamp base for a friend that split in half at one time and had some chips missing from the trim so I glued up what I had and rebuilt some of the trim with filler which I’ll match up when finishing.

When I got it it had what appeared to be a heavy gel stain or maybe a heavily tinted lacquer or varnish which evened out the color quite a bit (boooooring). I sanded it off and it’s quite beautiful natural so I’m going to keep it natural. Ish. My friend doesn’t know I’m doing all this, he won’t mind, will even be happy. He’s a decorator and his house is completely mid-century-danish-modern with a lot of cool tones so I’m bringing it more in line with his house. He also has an AMAZING garden with a lot of stone and when I was working on it I was reminded of rammed earth (link if you aren't familiar) which tends to be how I plan things, so this is my inspiration. Anyhow, the point of all this is rather than going straight natural, is there a way to play up the cooler undertones in the wood? Adding just the tiniest smidgen of black or gray tint to a clear finish? Or white? I saw in a post that someone mentioned poly giving wood a coolness, can do, but an extra bump?

-- . . . it's cheaper than therapy.

2 replies so far

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355 posts in 2925 days

#1 posted 10-17-2014 01:03 AM

I’ve used this on Bass so I believe it would work on your Popular. They have much the same grain, just harder. Wet the surface to raise the grain and rub lamp black or similar on while still damp. Then sand. Where the grain opens more it takes more color in. If you don’t let it set long you can highlight the different growth bands and still have the natural color. I’ve seen others do it with stain, but i’ve had better luck with dry pigment. When I tried stain I got too much and lost the natural tone. The pieces I did with Bass I coated with oil based outdoor Poly (3 coats) rubbed down with 0000 steel wool between each coat. They reminded me of hand rubbed lacquer finishes. Sorry, I don’t have any pics so you could see the finished result.

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32 posts in 2428 days

#2 posted 10-18-2014 12:59 PM

This sounds like a really interesting way to finish. I’m always looking for something new and different. I ended up getting White Mist stain from General finishes and wiping it on, spreading it out, wiping it off so that it only toned the yellows down just enough to be cool but didn’t obscure the grain or variation as I wanted the greens and blues to show. I was really happy with the end result, where the wood had to be rebuilt I mixed paint to match the corresponding grain, topped with a satin poly. It turned out gorgeous, if I do say so myself. And of course I forgot to take a picture and it’s back at my friend’s house.

I’m going to experiment with the same technique with some maple I’ve got lined up for a tabletop as I really loved how it cooled the tone down. The base is a patina-ed angle iron and it’s ambrosia maple which I’ve filled the holes and a large knot with black epoxy, my other latest experiment-crush.

-- . . . it's cheaper than therapy.

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