Poplar VS Basswood?

What do you think of Poplar for RC boat use? Frames, bulkheads, Planks, etc.

Poplar - Yellow (Tulip Poplar)
Characteristics: Yellow Poplar is a domestic hardwood. Poplar is straight grained and uniform in texture. The sapwood is white and often several inches thick. The heartwood is a yellowish brown to olive green sometimes streaked with dark green, purple, black, blue or red.
Common Uses: [COLOR=black][FONT=Arial]Poplar is used for moldings - furniture - toys - trim boards - tongue depressors - light framing - carving and plywood.
Working Properties: Poplar works easily with hand and power tools, especially those that are kept sharp. This wood glues easily with all woodworking adhesives. The wood holds nails and screws well. Poplar takes stains, varnishes and paints well also.
Average Dried Weight: 28 lb/ft.
Average Specific Gravity: .45

Basswood (American)
Characteristics:American Basswood is a domestic hardwood. The heartwood is creamy white to brownish and is not always distinguished from the wide white sapwood. The grain is straight and fine. The texture is even. Basswood is quite stable. The wood is soft, light and weak. It does not bend well.
Common Uses:This wood is a favorite among carvers. It is used for moldings - pattern making - baskets - toys and piano keys. The wood is clean, has an attractive appearance, and is lightweight and free from odor.
Working Properties: Basswood works extremely easily with both hand and machine tools. It nails screws and glues well. It also accepts stains satisfactorily and can be polished to a fine finish.
Average Dried Weight: 26 lb/ft.
Average Specific Gravity: .32

I don’t see why poplar isn’t more popular.:slight_smile:

I am going to use some this week

Great, I will be interested to see what you think…

I was thinking of planking and/or using it for supports, braces, etc…

When I lived in tennessee I used to build cabinets with it quite a bit. The local wood always had a strange greenish color. It was light weight and easy to work with. There was alot of it floating around , it was cheap and people seemed to like the way it looked , though I never cared much for the color.

Cabinets? Cabinets?

I’m installing my daughters kitchen ones and I have some crown moulding for top cornice detail. Any hints on cutting corners to fit well appreciated. I’ve done cabinetry before, so woodworking isn’t an issue - but never done the top crown mouldings - so any hints/tips appreciated.

I did pick up some sprung crown of inexpensive polystyrene and am going to try and cut some inside/outside corners as tests so I don’t spoil the nice Maple. I was going to cut moulding in miter saw, upside down with just a single left or right miter. I also have been advised to keep top of moulding “down” when cutting to assure when flipped up the top of the moulding will be the long edge. Anything else you’ve done (if you have) would be appreciated. Somehow, I just don’t want to use 7 lbs. of wood putty in my corners. :rolleyes:


Problem with poplar in boat construction is that is that can rot very easily, also poplar is a “vague” term, it can indicate several wood species with different characteristic.

For further discussion from the WoodenBoat forum:


Just a guess here - but building a FOOTY all the way up in other AMYA size classes, I doubt one has to worry about “rot” - since the boats are usually out of the water and inside, and are not moored in the pond.

I would suggest building with the softest core wood available (balsa) and sheathing inside and out with very thin (maybe 1/2 oz. glass and epoxy) for durability, resistance to nicks, bumps and dings. Why work with a harder wood than necessary if more time is needed to smooth and fair the hulls?

Unless there is a need/desire for a clear finish - I don’t see a need for expensive, stiff, hard wood. We are, after all, talking radio control boats here. :wink:

For me, why is because Balsa is weak, cuts poorly, doesn’t sand well, dings when you touch it and filling the grain smooth is harder (compared to other woods)…
I know it’s light and if steamed or soaked it bends easily, but many woods bend as well and they have tighter grain structure. I like the ease of cutting, but it’s all a give & take…

Yes, the next model I do, if & when I do another one, will be finished clear, but the planks will be of some type of “colorful” wood… The poplar or maybe basswood will just be for the frames and stuff that does not show on the outside…

I don’t really want to ever work with glass again. I can’t take the fumes from the resin/hardner. Even epoxy is hard on the lungs for me. I use a respirator for painting, too many paint & body jobs with no protection in the early years…