Why is poplar not so popular?

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badger

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2007
Messages
187
Location
Tooele Utah It's 40 klicks south and west of SLC
Hi folks..

I've been a member for about 3 weeks now, maybe a month. I've done a lot of surfing and reading in these forums, and found some information quite useful. I've not seen alot of the mention about poplar wood as being a good substitue for spruce, pine, etc. I have done quite a few tests with poplar, and I've found that (when grading the poplar the same way as any approved aircraft wood), that poplar holds up extremely well, and in some cases and applications, even better than some of the clear pine. It dont hold a candle to fir,(as far as strength goes), but it dont splinter when you look at it the wrong way either! As far as weight goes, it's right there with the clear pine I believe. I built a 202 Koala years ago, (kit form) and all it was, was a lot of clear pine cut to geodetic strips and such. In fact, I was angry because I paid so much money for so little wood, which I could have milled myself. Dont get me wrong.....I loved that little plane, and building was a snap. I just could have done it a LOT cheaper! Anyway....

Like I say......I'm just curious why it isn't more popular amoung builders. Maybe it is, and I've just been "out of the loop" too long maybe? But, I'm seriously considering using it on wing ribs, and tail feathers, on my next project.......which will be next year this time.....or there abouts.

Happy building folks!

John:tired:
 

Rom

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Joined
Oct 30, 2006
Messages
489
Location
Medina, Ohio
Although my plan is to build a composite aircraft, I have been looking into using poplar in such areas as stiffeners, hard-points and structural corners in my layups. Poplar is suppose to have excellent bonding characteristics with epoxy or so I have read. I am also curious as to others' experiences using this material.
 

badger

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2007
Messages
187
Location
Tooele Utah It's 40 klicks south and west of SLC
I know bud. It's really quite durable as well, and very flexible. I wouldn't shy away from using it. In some instances, where a whole LOT os strength is needed, I'd stay with doug fir or spruce I think, but even at that, if poplar is reinforced with gussets, blocks, etc., I think it would work okay. I'm no expert, but building cabinets and furniture, I've had a lot of experience with different woods. And, here again......homebuilding allows us to use chewing gum and match sticks if we want to!

Happy flying bud!

John
 

Dust

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Joined
Feb 9, 2004
Messages
302
Location
Troy, Michigan
poplar is not rot resistant but is quit stable, it is a soft hardwood and is good for drawer sides and bottoms
 

badger

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2007
Messages
187
Location
Tooele Utah It's 40 klicks south and west of SLC
Thanks for the input Dust. I've used poplar for exactly that before.....drawer sides and bottoms, also cabinet backs/doors, etc. I didn't know that it's not rot resistant though. Even with todays finishes, methods, and advanced laquers and varnishes and stuff, dont you think it might last a spell? Like I said, I'm no wheres near an expert, so I'm just curious. And thanks again for the comment.

John
 

lr27

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2007
Messages
3,822
I find poplar very pleasant to work with, and I hear that it is stronger than some other woods across the grain, but after working with it my impression is that it's not particularly strong along the grain, nor very light. If strength wasn't all that important, I'd probably go for some ordinary spruce from 2 X 4's. But you have to pick. 2 X 4's aren't necessarily spruce. I think they often say SPF as in spruce, pine, fir, and no, not that kind of fir. Nor is it that kind of spruce, but it's not bad. I know you can carve some nice light oars out of spruce.

I would use poplar where I wanted easy sanding and smooth results, but didn't mind the greenish cast, which can get into some finishes.
 

badger

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2007
Messages
187
Location
Tooele Utah It's 40 klicks south and west of SLC
lr27..thanks for the input. Copy that about the greenish cast! Purple sometimes too. There is a local guy here in town that claims to have built a Fisher 101 entirely from poplar. I guess a family member bought the plans/kits from Fisher, and he used the plans, but substituted the poplar. I've seen both aircraft flying around, but had no idea that the latter was a clone made from poplar until about a month ago. 80 something hours on it, he says, and no problems as yet. So, I dont know. Maybe he's blowing smoke. Anyway, thank you for the reply, and happy flying bud.

John
 
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