tulip poplar wood

  • Creator
  • #550833

    Ive been seeing more tulip poplar wood where I live (michigan, usa). Does anyone know anything about it such as what its best for or what it looks like finished etc.?
    Thanks, Mark

Viewing 3 replies - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
  • Author
  • #550851
    Larry Geib


    American Tulip wood comes with few knots or imperfections and tools well. It is pretty dimensionally stable. Because of the green cast and mineral stains it often has, it isn’t poplar (see what I did?) where it will show unpainted.
    If you find it without the green cast, grab it. That often gets sold at a premium.

    It is fairly soft, so it’s easy to work, while still showing detail well.

    You often find it for drawer sides and backs, upholstered furniture, the inside plys for expensive veneered plywood, siding, painted cabinet faces, painted trim, painted shelves, etc.

    Back in my joinery shop days, it was the favored wood for cabinet secondary wood. You didn’t have to worry about the pitch that would come out of under-aged pines.

    And we would use it for crown mold where the wood lower in the room was cherry, to save costs. Our painter could make it look like cherry with a combination of red and brown stains, if you didn’t get too close.

    It isn’t particularly rot or insect resistant, so keep that in mind.

    And the green cast changes to brown after 50 years or so. Antique furniture drawers don’t show the green.



    Great info thanks much!



    I’ve done a number of projects with tulip poplar. I have found some boards with absolutely pretty colors in them such as greens and purples (they do fade to brown in my experience). As the comment above mentions, it is easy to work with hand tools. The two things I don’t like: it’s smell, and what it looks like with a simple shellac finish. Poplar doesn’t smell horrible, I just don’t care for it’s smell much in the same way I don’t quite care for the smell of oak. I prefer the smell of pine, cherry, or walnut. It terms of using shellac finish, it finishes just fine. I just don’t think it looks pretty like does walnut, oak, or cherry. There is nothing wrong with it. There was a process I found in popular woodworking where you can do a three step process and stain it to nice hues of brown. I’ve done that and it looks nice. Here is an example of poplar I used and then stained brown for a stepping stool for my daughter. The stool design was in Fine Woodworking just about a year ago.

Viewing 3 replies - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.