Poplar wood is a hardwood that is softer than many types of softwood. It is also one of the most popular wood types where an inexpensive variety is needed. It is soft, but poplar is also relatively strong and accepts paint better than most other wood variants. However, care does need to be used when cutting poplar because it has a tendency to crack or tear when it is being cut. Therefore, here are some tips that will help you make clean and straight cuts when working with Poplar wood.
Use Only Sharp Saw Blades
Because poplar does tend to tear away when it is being cut, you should only use very sharp blades when working with the wood. Although it is important to use a sharp saw blade when cutting any type of wood, it is particularly important with poplar. This is especially true if you're working with a piece of poplar that has a knot or other imperfection in the location where the cut is being applied.
Use a Straight Edge to Create Cut Lines
Before you attempt to cut across a piece of poplar wood, used a speed square or other carpenter's straight edge to create a cut line that you can use to guide the saw blade. Regardless if you're using a handsaw or a circular skill saw, this technique is a great way to practice making straight cuts. Even carpenters with many years of experience use this technique when cutting studs or other pieces of wood.
Be Careful When Using a Hand Planer
Because of its relatively soft nature, poplar can be more difficult to plane. Therefore, if you need to shave away a portion of the edge on a piece of poplar wood, ensure that the hand planer blade is very sharp and that you use short and consistent strokes when using the hand planer. Don't attempt to chop the edge of the Poplar wood with the hand planer as it may result in a large piece of wood being torn away.
Consider a Router for Precision Cuts
If you need to make very precise cuts on a piece of poplar wood, you should consider using a router and router bit versus using a hand saw or a skill saw. A straight router bit used in conjunction with a cutting guide our fence can help you make 100% straight cuts across a piece of poplar wood. Also, a router can make much cleaner curved cuts than can a jigsaw when cutting Poplar wood.
Score the Wood Before Using a Hand Saw
If you need to cut a piece of poplar wood with a handsaw, create a cutting line with a pencil or marker and use a speed square or other straight edge to make a straight line. Then, use a utility knife to gently score along the cut line mark before you start using the handsaw. This will help you keep the handsaw straight while you're sawing the wood.
Use Masking Tape to Reduce Chipping and Breakage
If the poplar wood has been exposed to moisture, and has not yet fully cured or dried, you can wrap masking tape around the wood where you need to make the cut. This will help you avoid tearing or ripping the woods when using a saw on wood that is a less than perfect condition. Once you have made your cut, you can simply remove the masking tape.