Known by several names, including tulip poplar and yellow poplar, this staple of the modern wood shop is one of the least expensive and most readily available hardwoods. In fact, it's one of the few hardwoods carried by nearly every large home center (the other two being maple and red oak). Poplar trees grow very quickly, sporting tuliplike flowers in the spring, and when harvested dry easily by kiln or air-drying methods with very little shrinkage or warping.
Among the lighter, softer hardwoods, poplar is straight-grained with a medium to fine texture and very few knots. It works extremely well with both machine and hand tools, glues well, and resists splitting when nailed or screwed. Poplar is light in color, with a slight yellow or greenish cast and occasional streaks of purple. Because of these color variations, and because it is extremely prone to blotching when colored with a pigment-based stain, poplar used for visible components is often painted. Durable and shock-resistant, poplar is highly stable.
Poplar is an excellent choice as a secondary wood for drawer boxes, cabinets, and furniture components, and for molding and millwork that will be painted. Because of its fine texture and lack of knots, it's also a favorite for carving, turning, and wood sculptures.
Wood grain images provided by HobbitHouseInc.com