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Thread: Can Poplar look like cherry ?

  1. #1

    Default Can Poplar look like cherry ?

    Is it easy to tell the difference between dark stained poplar, and dark stained cherry ?

    Poplar looks like a cherry clone, so I was wondering if Poplar can be "the poor man's Cherry" ?

    Thanks
    Dave
    Last edited by David Dev; 01-23-2009 at 02:12 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Can Poplar look like cherry ?

    To get right to the point--your last question! YES
    "Born 50 years too late"

  3. #3

    Default Re: Can Poplar look like cherry ?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Dev View Post
    Is it easy to tell the difference between dark stained poplar, and dark stained cherry ?

    To date, I've made furniture from exotics, but the prices are too high now. So I'm switching to domestic wood. Poplar looks like a cherry clone, so I was wondering if Poplar can be "the poor man's Cherry" ?

    By the way, on a tangent, what's all the hype about cherry ? It really looks like a boring figured, boring colored wood to me. I love the effects of Wenge, Khaya, Chechen, Chakte Kok .... so I just can't figure out why people are so drawn to plain and boring cherry ? Does it transform magically with age or something ?

    Thanks
    Dave
    Red Alder is a good sub for Cherry and after just a little staining most people couldn't tell the differernce. It also darkens with age but not as much as Cherry. This kitchen is made with Clear Red Alder.

    CD Kit.jpg

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Can Poplar look like cherry ?

    Quote Originally Posted by big mac View Post
    To get right to the point--your last question! YES

    It Do.... Mature with time, and sunlight.

    Can you make Poplar look like Cherry, Sure with the right finish and coloring, but can you tell the difference? Sure Nuff! There is a grain to Cherry although some cuts provide a smooth non-discript pattern, but there is inclusions and streaks in Cherry you find in other woods. The aging as it mellows out show off the colors. Blanketing a piece of Poplar with color will create a nice piece and the color to match your decor, but as for Copy Cherry? I think not.

    On another note, Price both, then factor in the processing of the product. How much of the material is in the value of the project. The difference between Poplar (and the added expense of trying to make a color/grain match) to the cost of the Cherry and calculate the small savings (if there is a savings) Is it worth it? Did you save a bundle? Is not the final project that you will have forever not worth spending a bit more?

    You can paint a Chevrolet the same color as a Cadillac but it ain't no Cadillac....

    Just like Bourbon, there is a reason it cost more, Old Crow will get you just as Drunk but you'll enjoy the Makers Mark better.
    Last edited by Bill Simpson; 01-23-2009 at 10:20 AM.
    Bill "Hickory" Simpson

  5. #5

    Default Re: Can Poplar look like cherry ?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Dev View Post
    Is it easy to tell the difference between dark stained poplar, and dark stained cherry ?
    Probably not. However, I would never put a "dark stain" on cherry. The point of cherry, IMHO, is the natural colour and the way it darkens with age.

    Something stained to "look" like cherry will never, to me, look as rich as real natural cherry.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Dev
    To date, I've made furniture from exotics, but the prices are too high now. So I'm switching to domestic wood. Poplar looks like a cherry clone, so I was wondering if Poplar can be "the poor man's Cherry" ?
    Errrrr.... Cherry is a domestic.
    And IMHO, if you look around you can find Cherry for a pretty reasonable price.
    It's not about you.

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    Default Re: Can Poplar look like cherry ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wally in Calgary View Post
    Red Alder is a good sub for Cherry and after just a little staining most people couldn't tell the differernce. It also darkens with age but not as much as Cherry. This kitchen is made with Clear Red Alder.

    CD Kit.jpg
    Thanks for that tip, Wally. Nice cabinets, they are.... but I think you need to work on that Backsplash...

    Red Alder? Hmmmmmmmm?

    I went to http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/person...pics/alder.htm and looked at their pictures and By golly you are right, Only question is how or where to get it? I can't see BORG of course nor the local Rockler or WoodCraft store, Lumber yards? Nope only the Popular woods....
    Last edited by Bill Simpson; 01-23-2009 at 10:32 AM.
    Bill "Hickory" Simpson

  7. #7

    Default Re: Can Poplar look like cherry ?

    David, I think the staining question has been answered, so nothing to add there. As for the wood preferences, its just that, a preference. If you like the exotics and this is for you, I would figure out how to make it happen. You get to live with it. I would ask where you are getting your wood from. If you are buying retail, thats a big part of the problem. I apologize if you are a pro for asking such a silly Q, but I gathered you might be a DIY'er from your re-finishing discussion.

    I agree with Bill, that the time staining vs the extra wood cost for real cherry may not be that much if you were to use veneered panels and the cabs are not FF. I just priced out some poplar and 4/4 stock was $1.71/bdft and the last batch of FAS 4/4 Cherry I purchased was $5.40/bdft. Sure thats $370/100bdft diff, but I cant imagine you value your time at $0/hr? For arguments sake, lets say you value your time at $25/hr. If you spend 15hr fiddling with stains/washcoat(maybe) you broke even and in the end you have a stained wood you might not like. You can veneer MDF or BB quite cost effectively for the panels and one benefit of using veneers, is the veneer companies get absolute best stock and you will find widths/lengths that you just cannot get anywhere else. The most expensive veneer I have bought to date was a crotch makore that ran about $4/sqft. Most domestics run somewhere between $0.75 to $2.5/sqft.

    Just my ramblings.

    Brad

  8. #8

    Default Re: Can Poplar look like cherry ?

    The trouble I see with trying to make one wood look like another is that it's only the surface that ends up looking similar. Birch is another wood that can be made to look a little like cherry. We were given some 'cherry' finish kitchen chairs a few years ago that are really birch. They looked fine, but anywhere they get a ding the light coloured birch contrasts with the finish and it's like a bright white beakon focussing your eyes only on the dings and scratches.

    But you're right, cherry is sadly way more expensive than look-alikes. As Wally said - red alder isn't a bad choice at all. It's actually quite nice to work with.

    Funny, just this morning I read Bob Flexners article in PWW about cherry being blotchy. He said that many moons ago cherry wasn't considered a great wood for furniture for just the reasons you cite (plain) and the fact that it's prone to blotching. Mahogany and walnut were the #1 choices back then. Then cherry started to gain favour. Now it's preferred by many. Actually it wasn't that long ago that walnut seemed to fall out of favour for a while. Tastes change with time I guess.

    Cheers,
    Kerry

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    Default Re: Can Poplar look like cherry ?

    Here is what my poplar guitar body looks like with a cherry stain and a fresh (and I mean fresh) coat of wipe on poly. Whether it looks like real cherry or not I can't say for sure - I haven't "graduated" to the good woods yet so other than what I've seen in pics, I don't know what cherry looks like up-close and personal

    Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try

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    Default Re: Can Poplar look like cherry ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry in Fort Sask, AB View Post

    Funny, just this morning I read Bob Flexners article in PWW about cherry being blotchy. He said that many moons ago cherry wasn't considered a great wood for furniture for just the reasons you cite (plain) and the fact that it's prone to blotching. Mahogany and walnut were the #1 choices back then. Then cherry started to gain favour. Now it's preferred by many. Actually it wasn't that long ago that walnut seemed to fall out of favour for a while. Tastes change with time I guess.

    Cheers,
    Kerry

    That makes sense. I had never worked with cherry before refinishing the antique student's desk I did a while ago. I was really confused what this wood was. Finally I ran into a lumberman who was easily able to identify it as cherry. This was surprising, because 100 years ago when they made this desk, it was just being mass produced for children in class rooms, so you could be sure that cost-effectiveness not decadence was their goal. I was confused then why they would use a fancy wood like cherry. That would be like getting a BMW or jaguar for a taxi cab. but, it makes sense knowing that cherry wasn't considered a fancy wood back then.

    It kinda makes me wonder about the prediction I've made before about pine: right now pine is often considered a sub-grade wood, suitable only for beginners and practice, but with all the loss being incurred by the pine beetle, I wonder if we won't see the demand of pine start to be massively less than the supply, thus making pine a rare, sought-after wood. WIll pine go through a status upgrade like cherry?

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Can Poplar look like cherry ?

    Although that is true, often times the Mass produced wood was what was available. Early times it was Chestnut as in the East, the hills were alive with hugh Chestnut trees, (gone are those days) Henry ford used Ash because there were abundant forrests in the area. Eastern Kentucky now sports White Oak as it is in abundance. As the Emerald Ash Borer devours out trees we will be aching for Ash, Not just for Baseball Bats but furniture as well (often Ash is used to stain to look like Oak.) Southern Yellow Pine so often used in furniture is dwindling and is becoming a sought after product. Cypress, was so common it was used for Railroad Ties and Trestels. But now it is scarce. Gypsie moths love Black cherry trees and Kentucky horses eat the leaves and the grass around where the defication of the moth falls and as a result, it was found that Mares aborted and cost the horse industry several years ago, So Breeders cut down the mighty Cherry trees. Now Cherry is imported.


    All relative ....
    Bill "Hickory" Simpson

  12. #12

    Default Re: Can Poplar look like cherry ?

    As others have said, the answer is yes. I have seen a couple of "Cherry" pool tables made out of poplar. The owners didn't know until it was pointed out to them. The sales people had told them it was dark cherry and they believed them. JG

  13. #13

    Default Re: Can Poplar look like cherry ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Simpson View Post
    Thanks for that tip, Wally. Nice cabinets, they are.... but I think you need to work on that Backsplash...

    Red Alder? Hmmmmmmmm?

    I went to http://www.hobbithouseinc.com/person...pics/alder.htm and looked at their pictures and By golly you are right, Only question is how or where to get it? I can't see BORG of course nor the local Rockler or WoodCraft store, Lumber yards? Nope only the Popular woods....
    Bill -- You have to buy it at a Hardwood supply company. It is like Cherry in many ways and maybe a bit softer. Also it doesn't usually come in wide boards as it is a smaller tree. I buy it for approx. $2.30 BFM skip planed and dried.
    (I don't do Backplashes)LOL.

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    Default Re: Can Poplar look like cherry ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wally in Calgary View Post
    Red Alder is a good sub for Cherry and after just a little staining most people couldn't tell the differernce. It also darkens with age but not as much as Cherry. This kitchen is made with Clear Red Alder.

    CD Kit.jpg
    Beautiful cabinets!!!

    ?? Is that a candle to the left of the range???
    We used to have one on the counter..on halloween it was lit in the kitchen on the cupboard near side door....someone came to door and accidently the candle got pushed back under cabinet by mistake...you can guess what happened next......we learned a lesson...no more "High" candles on cup boards!!!!!!!! Jim

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    Default Re: Can Poplar look like cherry ?

    Yes, I'm sure it can be done. At first I was concerned with the green colour of Poplar, but then I remembered an article on Greene and Greene finish on Mahogany and they used a green Stain as part of the process to bring out the richness of Mahogany since it is opposite the colour red on the colour wheel. The same result would apply to the natural green in Poplar and a redish cherry stain.

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