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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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Michael Baker
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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. Smile
~michael baker
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AGMagic
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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?
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IDOTRIX
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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
tristanmagic
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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)
Matthew W
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Tristan,

You took the words right out of my mouth.
-Matt
illusiontech
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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
AmazingEARL
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Quote:
I'm surprised that Dan Wolfe doesn't mention that Puchingers Mini Kube Zag is not in public domain.


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
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Matthew W
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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.
-Matt
AmazingEARL
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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.
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Aaron Smith Magic
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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.


You are my hero Dan!
Leland Stone
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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.


"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. Smile
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