Poplar, lacking bold coloration or an exciting grain pattern, doesn't often get the respect we feel it deserves. The Poplar tree is widespread across all of North America and Europe, and it grows very rapidly and to large sizes, meaning it's very easy to sustain. Because the wood is often painted or used in secondary applications where it isn't visible, it is very easy to find wide, clear sections of Poplar for a variety of uses. At J. Gibson McIlvain lumber company, we usually have a large supply of Poplar in stock, and, due to the wood's high availability and locality, we can very quickly obtain new stock and kiln dry it for a stable product.
Rapid growth and wide range make it common for us to stock 15" and wider Poplar lumber.
Poplar is very easy to work, is highly stable, and takes paint and stain famously well. The combined factors of low cost and high availability in a variety of widths and thicknesses make Poplar an outstanding secondary or paint-grade wood that is perfect for interior building or furniture applications. Poplar is most commonly used, however, in architectural millwork, because it is soft enough to be gentle on cutting tools, yet hard enough to retain details. The fine pores finish very well, taking an even and smooth coat of paint, primer, varnish, or shellac.
In general, when the final project is to be stained or painted, there usually is no better choice than Poplar.
Shannon Rogers started woodworking by trying to build a proton pack, and has been in love with the craft ever since. He runs The Renaissance Woodworker website which is dedicated to spreading the love about hand tool woodworking. He is also the head glue pot keeper at The Hand Tool School where teaches thousands of woodworkers on 6 continents (still trying to find somebody in Antarctica) how to cast off the power tool oppressors and build "the hard way".
By day Shannon is the Director of Marketing for J. Gibson McIlvain, a lumber company founded in 1798 that supplies high quality hardwoods from all over the world to everyone from Calvin Klein, the New York Yankees, and the US Government. He is a wood nerd through and through and often finds reasons to inject latin botanical names into everyday conversation.