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Topic: Poplar or birch for mini cube?
Message: Posted by: Drew Murray (Jun 8, 2011 08:45AM)
Getting ready to build a mini cube zag this week or next. I was told from others who have built them that they used 3/8 inch poplar. That sounds great except I cannot find a supplier to save my life. I did find 1/2 inch poplar which is only an 1/8 thicker, not bad. Obviously like most of us building illusions we want to make it lightweight and strong at the same time. Nothing like loading a heavy, broken prop into the snowy trailer after a show with the dullest audience ever. Ok so maybe the dull audience is a bonus.

My question is should I use 1/2 inch poplar or 1/2 inch birch, which is about the same price and much easier to access (thank you lowes) ORRRR should I really track down some 3/8 poplar.
My plans are for 3/8 material so I would have to adjust a little but wanted to get some good input before I do that.

Thanks!!!!

-Drew
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Jun 8, 2011 11:32AM)
You will have to have the lumber yard 'plan' down the 1/2" stock. I would not use Popular as it is a very hard wood and difficult to work with. It also splits when nailing and drilling with screws. Popular is a very common wood, you should not have any trouble locating it. Remember that 1/2" stock in 'wood talk' is not actually 1/2" by a ruler. Example: 1" stock is actually 3/4" when measured with a ruler.

Come to think about it, I think 1/2" stock is 3/8" actual measurement. Take a ruler with you and check.

Birch is a great wood to work with, more expensive then popular, but the advantages out weigh the cost.
Message: Posted by: Ray Tupper. (Jun 8, 2011 12:28PM)
The poplar must be different over there.It's not overly hard,similar to ramin and very easy to work with over here.
Also it's quite light in weight and is a great substrate for painting.
Ray.
Message: Posted by: remote guy (Jun 8, 2011 12:33PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-08 12:32, wmhegbli wrote:
You will have to have the lumber yard 'plan' down the 1/2" stock. I would not use Popular as it is a very hard wood and difficult to work with.


Poplar is a light soft wood and is very easy to machine.


Nick
Message: Posted by: AmazingEARL (Jun 8, 2011 12:34PM)
We use 1/2" Birch for the Mini Kub Zag. If you understand the engineering stresses when the girl is in place, the front and rear panels of the upper cabinet are being asked to do some serious structural support. I wouldn't go with 3/8"...at least not on those panels.

1/2" for the base surface, too. No question.

Dan Wolfe
Message: Posted by: Drew Murray (Jun 8, 2011 12:40PM)
1/2 birch it is. Thanks guys.

Ill upload some progress pics as I get this project going.

-Drew
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Jun 8, 2011 02:06PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-08 12:32, wmhegbli wrote:
You will have to have the lumber yard 'plan' down the 1/2" stock. I would not use Popular as it is a very hard wood and difficult to work with. It also splits when nailing and drilling with screws. Popular is a very common wood, you should not have any trouble locating it. Remember that 1/2" stock in 'wood talk' is not actually 1/2" by a ruler. Example: 1" stock is actually 3/4" when measured with a ruler.

Come to think about it, I think 1/2" stock is 3/8" actual measurement. Take a ruler with you and check.

Birch is a great wood to work with, more expensive then popular, but the advantages out weigh the cost.
[/quote]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
As Ricky Ricardo often said "I yi yi, yi yi"
Poplar is the softest commercially available wood.
To test wood, paint, plastic ect just press your fingernail into it and see if it leaves an impression.

Poplar however tends to warp more then birch with consideration to the region it was grown and how much moisture content it had before it was initially sawn. Buying straight long-grained wood of any species is the way to go.

It can also be harder to stain because patches of non-select shipments may have a green tint
Message: Posted by: makeupguy (Jun 8, 2011 03:39PM)
Wmhegbli: If he's talking about building illusions.. he's talking about PLYWOOD.. not regular wood.

Have you ever tried to plane plywood.. it kind of goes against the point of it being plywood.

Poplar is a nice, tight grained wood.. but hardly a hardwood. Though at Home Depot.. it might as just be re-labeled "GOLD" for what they charge for it.
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Jun 8, 2011 03:54PM)
Birch plywood is an excellent choice for illusion construction. It's durable and the grain takes primer and paint well. Don't forget to pre-drill all screw holes, especially ones close to the edges.

Go with 1/2" as said above. And try to find a local lumber yard if you can. You'll get better service and have a greater selection than Lowe's or Home Depot. You may even get a better price.
Message: Posted by: Drew Murray (Jun 8, 2011 04:01PM)
I guess while were on the topic of materials I should toss out another question...for the tubes.

Sheet metal or ABS plastic? I have seen it done both ways. Sheet metal tubes would weigh more and be harder to construct, but probably stronger. Plastic ones could be easily made and wouldnt be too noisy or show dents/scratches.

I have suppliers for both but if I go the plastic route how thick to you think it should be? 1/4 inch? 1/8 inch?
Message: Posted by: MuleePete (Jun 8, 2011 04:10PM)
These are not be in exact order, just what I have worked with.

Some soft to medium types. Balsawood, basswood, pine, poplar, cedar, china berry, red mahogany, redwood, maple.

A few of the hard types. Cherry, elm, mahogany (black), walnut, hickory.

Then the exoctics like zebra, holly, ironwood, monkeypod, ebony, etc. range in there somewhere.

Most definitions for hardness and grain types of woods can be found with a quick google search.

Also a search of "Hardwood" with turn up who carries the planks and who has just flooring. I have to go to Peterson in LV to stock up.

Just my $0.02 to help out.

Pete
Message: Posted by: ClintonMagus (Jun 8, 2011 04:19PM)
Not an answer to the question, but if you are building a Mini Kub Zag from Paul Osborne's plans, it will not work. It is was never built prior to drawing the plans, and it is nothing like the authorized version. Just a word of warning...
Message: Posted by: IDOTRIX (Jun 8, 2011 07:36PM)
Makeup guy, I think Bill wrote plan down, not plane down. But if he did mean plane down, OMG
Message: Posted by: Drew Murray (Jun 8, 2011 08:07PM)
I guess while were on the topic of materials I should toss out another question...for the tubes.

Sheet metal or ABS plastic? I have seen it done both ways. Sheet metal tubes would weigh more and be harder to construct, but probably stronger. Plastic ones could be easily made and wouldnt be too noisy or show dents/scratches.

I have suppliers for both but if I go the plastic route how thick to you think it should be? 1/4 inch? 1/8 inch?
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Jun 9, 2011 07:37AM)
I never heard of plywood with popular finish wood as the last layer. I was speaking of solid wood, not plywood. I thought he asked concerning framing material. The mini cube I seen was not made out of wood at all, it was all metal and plastic material.

Yes, solid wood can be planed down, with all the spelling errors on the Café, don't speak unless you are perfect. I have not read a perfect post on the Café yet.

I think you are all thinking of Bass wood, it is a dense wood that is easy to work with. Popular is super hard wood that is difficult to work with. That is my experience with these woods. I made a frame of Bass and it marked up and dented very easily. Popular was just to difficult to cut, drill and work with, paint just sat on top, and did not seem to attach to the wood as it did with Birch. Birch is my choice for making all magic projects.
Message: Posted by: remote guy (Jun 9, 2011 08:10AM)
http://woodworking.about.com/od/typesofwood/p/Poplar.htm
Message: Posted by: ClintonMagus (Jun 9, 2011 08:11AM)
I used to be able to buy ˝" poplar plywood at a local lumberyard, so I know it used to be available.

My experience with solid poplar is idfferent from wmhegbli. I have used it for everything, and have never had a problem with it taking paint, etc. It does stain weird, though, and it is ofte a greenish color when finished "naturally". It is readily available at my local Home Depot.
Message: Posted by: remote guy (Jun 9, 2011 08:16AM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-09 09:11, ClintonMagus wrote:
I used to be able to buy ˝" poplar plywood at a local lumberyard, so I know it used to be available.

My experience with solid poplar is idfferent from wmhegbli. I have used it for everything, and have never had a problem with it taking paint, etc. It does stain weird, though, and it is ofte a greenish color when finished "naturally". It is readily available at my local Home Depot.
[/quote]

I agree with ClintonMagus. I have used Poplar in some of my projects and find it much like working with Pine.
Message: Posted by: ClintonMagus (Jun 9, 2011 10:08AM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-09 08:37, wmhegbli wrote:
The mini cube I seen was not made out of wood at all, it was all metal and plastic material.

[/quote]

I have never seen a MKZ made of anything other than wood. I have seen them made from 3/8" and 1/2" plywood, but never from any other material. Do you know whao made it?
Message: Posted by: Drew Murray (Jun 9, 2011 10:11AM)
@ wmhegbli

"Yes, solid wood can be planed down, with all the spelling errors on the Café, don't speak unless you are perfect. I have not read a perfect post on the Café yet. "

Most of us our magicians, not english professors. If someone had to be perfect to speak there wouldnt (wouldn't) be any content in forum.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jun 9, 2011 10:14AM)
Poplar plywood is available, but I've never seen it where I shop. Birch ply is commonly available, although the quality varies greatly depending on where you buy it. For example, the 1/4" full (4'x8') sheets at Lowes are almost as bad as Lauan. The core (so-called solid core) is mealy. Good luck making a good glue joint there. The surface texture is often wavy. That's the good side. The back side is usually loaded with unfilled voids. That's the best reason for going with Finnish, or Baltic Birch, but expect to pay a lot more.

I did find some pretty nice 1/2" Birch ply at the local Menards that was not Baltic. It had thicker core layers, but the surface was impressive enough that I now have several sheets sitting here. I intend to use them for a project for my own show.

Solid Poplar is unique and ambiguous in its classification. Some refer to it as a softwood, because of its density, but the categories (hardwood vs softwood) are usually determined by whether the tree it comes from is a conifer or deciduous. In this regard, it should be classified as a hardwood.

Poplar is harder than most examples of softwoods (pine, fir, aspen, etc.). It machines fairly well, but can be fuzzy if turned. It takes scres well, but pilot holes should be drilled. I can't really claim experience using nails on poplar, although if I'd had bad experiences, I would have remembered.

It is commonly used for drawer sides because of its liklihood to not warp. It takes paint pretty well, except the end grains (use a primer first), but usually gives a blotchy look when stained.

Keep your blades sharp because if Poplar starts to burn, it will smell like a dead rat in a campfire.

I figured Bill was speaking of solid Poplar when he mentioned planing it. Trying to plane plywood would be akin to putting a brick into a washing machine. :)
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Jun 9, 2011 02:30PM)
Well said Michael. Once again you beat me to posting this time it was the definition of hard and soft woods. The link Remote guy posted also covers this.

wmhegbli, Just trying to understand...this is the second post I have seen where you state that Popular (sic) is very hard and difficult to work with. All of the pieces of Poplar that I have bought have been relatively soft with a color similar to clear fir, but a little more tan and with green sapwood streaks. Could you be thinking of some other wood, or are we mis-interpreting your response of Popular as Poplar? Could "Popular" be a local term for the very hard wood that you describe?
Message: Posted by: IDOTRIX (Jun 9, 2011 06:42PM)
I am a contractor by trade and poplar is an excellent wood. I don't think you will be staining your KZ, because poplar doesn't stain well. Excellent to paint, cut, router. Unless you by it in Ft. Wayne
Message: Posted by: tristanmagic (Jun 15, 2011 05:16PM)
I'm surprised that Dan Wolfe doesn't mention that Puchingers Mini Kube Zag is not in public domain.
He has obtained the exclusive USA rights from Chalet magic who got permission from Mr.Puchinger.
The Osbourne plan are for reference only and don't include the rights to build one!
So I hate to bring you the bad news that it is unethical for you to build this illusion but luckily there are many other illusions that are in public domain and that you can build while you save your money to buy a authorised version from Dan Wolfe (or perhaps you find a used one Build by Chalet Magic or Dan Wolfe)
Message: Posted by: Matthew W (Jun 15, 2011 05:49PM)
Tristan,

You took the words right out of my mouth.
Message: Posted by: illusiontech (Jun 15, 2011 11:49PM)
As Dan Wolfe knows, many people try and build effects, get frustrated and will wind up buying the prop from him!!

Especially when you try and completely build from the Osbourne Plans. Most of his plans have some error or flaw, and he even says so in his books!!

In our illusions/props we use primarily Baltic Birch for sheet goods, it is very consistent and high quality, you have to go to a lumber supplier, this is not home store stuff.

Another Note: Osbourne just put out an unofficial plan for the bow staff illusion, I have worked with the prop many times, anyone that trying to make one should stop the thought process immediately and have it properly built, once again, the illusion is about the minuscule details!!

Vinny
Message: Posted by: AmazingEARL (Jun 16, 2011 06:39AM)
[quote]I'm surprised that Dan Wolfe doesn't mention that Puchingers Mini Kube Zag is not in public domain.[/quote]

True, the MKZ is not public domain. However there are enough threads about performance rights, ethics and such around this place. They usually turn into shouting matches, go nowhere and help no one.

Besides, the original question was about plywood. :-}

Dan Wolfe

P.S.: If you're interested my 2008 review of the Osborne MKZ Plan, it's still available here: http://www.smmagic.com/illusions/mkz/OsbornePlansReview.htm
Message: Posted by: Matthew W (Jun 16, 2011 09:51AM)
Dan,

I am a bit confused by your statements. You stated it is not public domain, yet recommended what wood to use.

Are you ok with someone building it?

I'm not trying to start anything, I am just genuinely confused.
Message: Posted by: AmazingEARL (Jun 16, 2011 10:10AM)
Matthew,

Is there something I can do to stop anyone from building a Kub Zag? I'm open to suggestions.

As I said, Drew's original question was about what plywood to use. If he's *going* to build one, I'd rather the girl inside it not get injured because of improper materials.
Message: Posted by: Aaron Smith Magic (Jun 17, 2011 07:22PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-16 11:10, AmazingEARL wrote:
Matthew,

Is there something I can do to stop anyone from building a Kub Zag? I'm open to suggestions.

As I said, Drew's original question was about what plywood to use. If he's *going* to build one, I'd rather the girl inside it not get injured because of improper materials.
[/quote]

You are my hero Dan!
Message: Posted by: Leland Stone (Jul 4, 2011 09:27PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-08 16:39, makeupguy wrote:
Wmhegbli: If he's talking about building illusions.. he's talking about PLYWOOD.. not regular wood.

Have you ever tried to plane plywood.. it kind of goes against the point of it being plywood.

Poplar is a nice, tight grained wood.. but hardly a hardwood. Though at Home Depot.. it might as just be re-labeled "GOLD" for what they charge for it.
[/quote]

"Hardwood" and "softwood" are somewhat misleading terms, as they do not refer to the actual hardness of the lumber. Basswood and balsa are both "hardwoods," but are in fact softer than cypress, a "softwood." The terms refer, respectively and somewhat loosely, to "deciduous" trees (those which seasonally shed their leaves) and "coniferous" trees (trees that bear cones and typically don't shed seasonally). There are exceptions, of course, and the taxonomists are free to wrangle over the matter. :D