Poplar for a Workbench?

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #314269
    Greg Marshall
    Participant

    Hi everyone! I will soon be making a workbench of Paul’s design. I was planning to make it from 100% home store pine 2×4, but I just realized that I have some other materials I could use:

    – I have enough Southern Yellow Pine to make the complete top. I could get more easily and inexpensively. This lumber has quite a lot of pitch in it. It is also very dense and much heavier than the home store 2×4 lumber. This stuff planes glass smooth and is a joy to work with.

    – I have enough Poplar to make the entire bench. Its softer than the yellow pine, but it is technically a hardwood. Not sure it matters.

    I would love to hear opinions on what you all would do if you had to choose from these three materials (you can mix and match).

    Thanks!

Viewing 10 replies - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Author
    Replies
  • #314270
    Edmund
    Participant

    @etmo

    Whatever represents the least cost + opportunity cost to you for the legs (if you have enough), to save money and maintain opportunity. By opportunity cost of course I mean even if you have some amazing wood that you got for free…fiddleback walnut or curly koa or something, the monetary cost of that wood was nothing to you, but the opportunity cost of using it would be high — you could make beautiful pieces from such wood, or even sell it for a substantial amount of money. Or even if the wood wasn’t particularly valuable, but you really like it personally, etc.

    Now compare that situation to the poplar…even if you had to pay for the poplar, if it’s just plain Jane poplar, then the opportunity cost is low, because you can always get more plain Jane poplar for little money, at least here in the States…YMMV, but hopefully you get the point.

    So curly koa == free + high oppty cost vs poplar == low cost + low oppty cost is the evaluation I would do for the legs.

    I like softer woods for the top, because I never got a good answer to the question: if you drop the piece you’re working on, and it falls and hits the benchtop, or if you just accidentally bang your workpiece against the benchtop, which would you rather have dented, the workpiece or the benchtop?

    #314425
    Debra Jenney
    Participant

    @djenney

    I would rather have the benchtop take the dent. SYP is great, sturdy stuff and pretty easy to get at low prices. I vote SYP for the whole bench and use the poplar on a different project.

    #314447
    Greg Marshall
    Participant

    @gregm

    Thanks for the comments! very helpful

    #315925
    Jon
    Participant

    @jonny1776

    I made my whole bench from SYP and it turned out great for my first major project. Took shellac very well and has been very stable in my garage despite the extremes in climate here in Arkansas.

    Attachments:
    #315928
    Greg Marshall
    Participant

    @gregm

    Jonny1776 that’s a beautiful work bench! I hope mine comes out as nice. Thank you for sharing this!

    #315929
    James Barnett
    Participant

    @jamesbarnett

    I agree with @jonny1776, SYP takes shellac well. I copied Paul’s finish from his youtube video with the cherry stool the best I could while replacing the water damaged bathroom vanity cabinet particle board bottoms in my dad’s house recently, and I really liked the look amber tinted shellac gave on SYP. And it is such a pleasant feeling to touch… Just too bad it’s a vanity cabinet bottom.

    #315933
    btyreman
    Participant

    @btyreman

    poplar would be fine, use whatever you have to hand, SYP is also very nice pine to work, I made mine entirely out of PAR redwood pine, it would be a good idea to stick to only one species for the entire build.

    #338879
    Anthony Rich
    Member

    @infinity-view

    I am still making mods to my poplar bench
    here are a couple of pics
    8′ x 5 1/2′ 21″ tool well

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Anthony Rich.
    Attachments:
    #340123
    btyreman
    Participant

    @btyreman

    [quote quote=338879]I am still making mods to my poplar bench
    here are a couple of pics
    8′ x 5 1/2′ 21″ tool well

    [/quote]

    wow that’s going to be an absolute beast, looks good so far!

    #360730
    ehisey
    Participant

    @ehisey

    SYP is a nice hard pine, however poplar is a much better furniture wood in general. Since you seem to have thick (8/4), if you are making the bench with it, poplar, I would save that for projects like the chair or computer desk.

    The xtra weight of SYP will also be better in the workbench than the chest of drawers.

    Tuscloosa, Alabama
    Lung T'an Hu Huesh Kung-fu Woodshop

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