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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The workshop » » Poplar or birch for mini cube? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Drew Murray
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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
Bill Hegbli
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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.
Ray Tupper.
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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.
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remote guy
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[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
AmazingEARL
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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
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Drew Murray
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1/2 birch it is. Thanks guys.

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

-Drew
jay leslie
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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.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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
makeupguy
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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.
EsnRedshirt
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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.
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Drew Murray
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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?
MuleePete
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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
ClintonMagus
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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...
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IDOTRIX
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Makeup guy, I think Bill wrote plan down, not plane down. But if he did mean plane down, OMG
Drew Murray
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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?
Bill Hegbli
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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.
remote guy
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ClintonMagus
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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.
Things are more like they are today than they've ever been before...
remote guy
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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.


I agree with ClintonMagus. I have used Poplar in some of my projects and find it much like working with Pine.
ClintonMagus
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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.



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?
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Drew Murray
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@ 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.
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