The woodworking world is one of the strangest places where you will find a group of people arguing about the strangest things. One of the things that you will always find is a hotly debated topic is the classification of many kinds of wood. This is because depending on what is always locally available, the definition of a hard word and a softwood can vary greatly. One such ongoing debate is the properties of pine wood against poplar wood.
No, poplar wood is not lighter than pine wood due to poplar wooding being quite denser than pine wood. This quality can be seen by poplar wood’s resistance to being scratched or dented. The products made by poplar wood are usually a lot heavier than those made by pine, and it is also why poplar wood is not always the preferred wood to be used in shredded wood products.
However, these are just the surface level differences that poplar and pine wood have. There are many things where they are quite similar. This is why so many people have come to love using poplar wood in their furnishings while building frames for the less expensive pine wood varieties. Many woodworkers won’t work with pine until they become more experienced, usually starting their woodworking career using basic pine woods.
Here’s everything you need to know about the differences between poplar wood and pine wood.
Why are certain woods lighter than others?
The simple answer to this is that some woods grow a lot denser than others. Each species of tree has a different density that they grow. Sometimes the trees that grow the fastest are the trees with the lightest woods because most of their energy will be placed in their growth.
Some of the heaviest wood used for furniture will come from trees that grow a lot slower than most. This is one reason why some woods are so much more coveted than others, owing to the trees that provide this woods-growing so much slower. Pinewood has become one of the most loved woods owing to the ease at which they grow.
Pine can be harvested within 10 years of being planted, which makes them a lot more usable but owing to the speed at which these trees grow, their wood soft and light. Poplar trees Usually live up to 20 years, but they grow a bit slower than pine trees, which means that the wood produced is a lot stronger.
While some pine trees can grow to be a lot older, several of the oldest pines reaching thousands of years of age, the ones most commonly used in woodworking does not grow to be so old.
What are the benefits of using poplar for your woodwork?
There are many benefits to using both kinds of wood for your woodwork. However, poplar will be a bit more expensive than pinewood owing to the amount of work needed to grow the trees. Further, the wood will be a lot less stressed when working with them, and many times the finished product will last longer.
The advantages of using poplar wood over others are varied, and knowing what they are will help you create better end products that you will be satisfied with.
Only two types
While there are some Poplar variations, it is, in general, just divided into two types of wood, poplar wood and yellow poplar wood. These two poplar types are remarkably similar, with the only difference being in the wood’s color and shades. Usually, yellow poplar is used for furniture that is a lot lighter in color but does not need to be shown.
Yellow poplar is usually painted over or used as support structures; however, this is not the same as normal poplar. Normal poplar wood usually has a darker color to it and will sometimes have a red shade. This makes the wood loved for staining or just oiling as the end product’s look will look perfect.
Easy to find the same wood
Owing to there only being two main types of poplar wood, it can be a lot easier to find the same wood. This may seem a bit weird, but because pine comes in so many varieties, it can be challenging to find the same type of pine wood that you previously had.
This means that working with poplar can be easier when you run out of wood. You can go to other wood suppliers to find wood of the same color and hardness. This means that many woodworkers can reproduce many of their projects without sacrificing quality, owing to not finding the right wood.
One of the main uses for poplar wood is in the world of furniture, where the hardiness and ease of construction of poplar have long made it a loved wood to use. Poplar is easily machinable, meaning that the wood can be used in a wood lathe to make specialized legs for some furniture.
The wood’s hardness has meant that simpler items could be a lot more robust for more basic furniture pieces. Allowing for anything simple to last a lot longer, delivering higher quality products without the woodworker having to pay a lot more to procure the wood.
What are the benefits of using pine wood?
Pine is everywhere, which means that it has been used in everything, in every way imaginable. There are wooden houses in Japan that have handcrafted beams that are made from pine woods. While in the modern age, pine has become the do everything and most versatile wood commonly used.
There are many reasons for this, and the ability of pine wood to almost do anything has made it the go-to wood for both amateur and master woodworkers.
While poplar generally has two varieties, with many hybrids making the scene complicated, pinewood has many varieties. There are more varieties of pine wood available than could be properly listed. This means that you can easily find low-quality pine wood to be used for quick art projects, or you can find pine wood that can be worked into some of the best-looking furniture on earth.
This variety means you can find some pine wood to fit your budget and fit into your project. It is often recommended that if you are still learning how to do many woodworking projects, it is better to start with pine wood. This will save you from damaging many other kinds of wood that could be used for better projects.
Despite what many people think, if pine wood is treated, sanded, and handled properly, the wood can look amazing. With the elevated grain of the wood and the clear lines that its quick growth has had, pinewood is loved by many woodworkers. While more expensive pinewoods can look amazing once treated and oiled down, most of the time, you may not be using these.
This is why it is amazing that pine wood can easily be painted or whitewashed. This has been one of the most important parts of pushing pinewood into the hands of DIY lovers. Often, wood processing and oiling may not be possible, where a project may have some defect, and the ability to easily paint the wood to help its aesthetic has meant that pine continues to be loved.
Some type of pinewood grows on every continent on earth, which means it is being farmed almost everywhere. This is why it is the one type of wood found in almost every house on earth. The affordability of pinewood has meant that it is used in everything.
Where are the two types of wood grown?
While there are many types of wood globally, there are many kinds of wood that only grow in select places. With many countries making specific laws to halt the growth of trees that are not native to them, for this reason, some pine farms will have different varieties as opposed to other countries.
Knowing where each type of tree is grown will mean that you can choose your project’s right type. Saving your money and ensuring you can continue building without facing a challenge.
Poplar wood is native to the Americas and, as such, is not grown anywhere else. The tree takes up a lot of space and uses more resources than other trees, growing wild for only a short 20-year period.
While there are popular farms, it is also grown a lot more in the suburbs, usually owing to their quick growth and visual appeal. However, the types of poplar trees growing in cities and towns are usually hybrid trees, which increases their lifespan to just under 50 years. Poplar is a prevalent tree in the Americas but has not seen widespread adoption in countries where they do not grow natively.
One of the most widespread trees globally, pine comes in almost every shape and size imaginable. There are great pines that are on the list of protected species in the Americas. These towering trees grow to be taller than most skyscrapers and are several thousands of years old.
While in the forests of Africa, Asia, and Europe, smaller pine varieties barely live to be over 100 years old. These are the trees that are usually farmed on a large scale and used in everything you can think of. Smaller pine trees that never grow to be extremely large will be used in everyday projects, while the large ancient pines are used for many more special projects.
Some of the world’s largest pine trees can sometimes fall over due to age or natural damage. In these instances, the trees are harvested. The wood from these trees is unlike any other wood you can find in stores, and while they are pine trees, they are no soft, lightweight, or cheap.
Where are both of these woods used?
Pinewood and poplar woods are often compared to each other due to the similar uses that they all have. Down to the most basic uses that each type of wood has, they are used in the same veins.
Many artisans using cheaper wood to support the more expensive wood. Sometimes entire furniture pieces will have a framework piece made from pine wood with the outer surfaces being made from poplar.
- Furniture: The most common use for both that can be encountered by the average person, pine wood furniture and poplar wood furniture are some of the most common pieces that you can find. The two wood will often be mixed to create a finished product with the best-looking oils of a poplar tree but the lightweight and strength provided by pine wood.
- Veneer: While the woods do look good naturally, sometimes you cannot afford to make something using solid pieces of wood. Even if the pine or poplar in your shop is affordable, you may find that compressed woods are even more affordable. In these instances, you will want to use a veneer. Pinewood or poplar wood veneers are some of the thicker kinds and can make any piece of cheap furniture be transformed into something amazing.
- Chipboard: Chipboard is the answer to many of life’s questions when it comes to wood. If you try to make something on a complete budget or create something that won’t be used for long, then the chipboard is the answer. Made by taking the wood shaving and chippings from poplar or pine wood, combining it with wood glue, and then compressing the product together while it dried. This creates a basic piece of wood that may not look amazing but can be extremely strong and lightweight.
- Trims and Moldings: Some of the most amazing-looking houses in the world have wooden flooring, solid wooden furniture, or in rare cases, wooden ceilings. In these cases, you will need to consider every single piece of molding or trim that you add, where poplar and pine wood shines. Because both can easily be stained, your trims can be stained with poplar or pine wood. You can create a finishing that looks nice and fits in with the full aesthetic that you want in your house.
- Decks: The one thing that needs a lot of solid wood is the deck you may plan to build out in front of your house. With poplar and pine wood, you can create a decking capable of easily withstanding everything except a tornado and will still look amazing. The biggest benefit will always be the lower cost of using either type of wood.
Poplar and pine wood are both some of the most commonly used woods in the world. However, poplar is not nearly as light as pine. You will need to consider when building a new piece of furniture or to add to your house, as heavier woods need more support.
Just be sure you don’t paint over an ancient pinewood piece when you think it is just something cheap.