Yellow Poplar is a medium-soft hardwood that grows throughout most of the Eastern United States. It is usually found more abundantly in valleys and mountain slopes below the 4000 ft. elevation. Poplar likes sunshine and will grow in most soil conditions, but thrives in moist, well drained areas. It is a relatively fast growing tree, and is one of the most harvested domestic hardwoods for commercial purposes.
Yellow poplar is a pale colored wood that ranges from a light-yellow to a yellowish-brown, or even a greenish color. It weighs an approximately 31 lbs/cu. ft., and has a fine, even texture with a straight grain pattern. It has moderate strength, but ranks low for stiffness, density, hardness and shock resistance. Also, it is susceptible to insects and inclement weather conditions, so protective finishes should seriously be considered when using outdoors.
Popular can be easily worked with power equipment, as well as hand tools. It only ranks average in its ability to hold fasteners, but pre-drilling is not necessary because it does not easily split. Poplar sands easily, but it is necessary to use progressively finer grit sizes to eliminate scratches. Gluing is usually not a problem and PVA type glues will work well. Poplar is easily turned and carved, as long as sharp tools are used. Staining can be a problem, due to blotching. An application of a shellac wash coat prior to staining will greatly minimize this problem. It is recommended to use an oil based stain to help prevent raising the grain pattern. Poplar does not require wood filler, because of its fine grain texture, and can be finished to a high luster. Poplar accepts paint exceptionally well, and is the recommended finish when applying directly to raw lumber.
Wood Species Index
Some of the main uses for poplar are door construction, exterior trim, siding, paneling, picture frames, toys, novelty items, molding, and millwork. It does have some use for furniture construction, kitchen cabinets, and musical instruments. This is especially true for furniture and cabinets that are going to be painted. It is not considered for fine furniture and cabinets because of its low shock resistance, and below average appearance. Because of its relative soft quality, it can easily be carved, so it lends itself to the construction of wooden toys and novelty items.