Poplar is one of the less expensive hardwoods. It’s also fairly soft, considering it is a hardwood, which makes it easy to work with. Poplar is very light in color (almost “white”) with some green or brown streaks in the heartwood (the wood that comes from the center of the tree). Because poplar is not the most beautifully grained wood, it’s almost always painted as it does take to paint very nicely for a uniform finish. Poplar makes for great table bases (often painted, with a stained tabletop of a different wood), drawers, cabinets, hutches and more. Poplar is a very common wood that is versatile and cost efficient.
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Just a little nitpick on the tape measure blurb. The hook should not be completely tight. It should move in and out about a 1/16th or the thickness of the hook. This way you get an accurate measurement whether you hook a part to measure or bump up to it. If you want more accurate measurements with a tape measure, “burn” an inch instead of hooking or bumping the part. Just line up what you want to measure with the 1″ mark and subtract that inch from the final measurement.
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I cannot think of a project that the orbital sander was not used. Whether painting, staining, or just applying a clear finish, you will want to sand to some level to smooth out the wood. Even when using barn-wood or reclaimed wood, I often at least sand the edges to get rid of sharp edges and revel some of the underlying fresh wood. I usually have about 4 or 5 different grit sandpaper on hand for my orbital sander, here is my favorite brand.
On the money issue one`thing I did is find something that is fairly easy to make and easy to sell. I made kaleidoscopes to begin with and still whip up a batch if I need to buy wood or a new tool. A neighbor WW makes wooden condiment holders for restaurants. A good friends son worked his way thru college by making a certain bearing that they needed on his tiny lathe. Spend a month or so on $$$ stuff before doing the better stuff.
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The next important hand tool for the woodworker is an accurate tape measure. Get a retractable one that is at least 25 feet long. Any longer than that, and you start having problems getting it to roll back up. Since measurements on large scale projects can be very susceptible to even the most minute measurement variations, you’ll want to make sure the “hook” or tab at the end of the is firmly attached, with no give. When they get loose, you’ll have as much as 1/8” variation in your measurements. This can add up to some severe accuracy problems in the long run.