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I've started building a cabinet with poplar.   I wish to have a black gloss finish.  I'm not an experienced "finisher".  I don't see much in way of stains in black at the common home stores.   I have also been told that attempting to stain poplar black really won't work out.   I see one of the nice projects on the site, a kitchen bar, was finished with a high gloss black paint.      Would you agree that for a basic black finish to stay with a paint vs stain?   Also,  it would seem that in order to avoid brush strokes it might work to use a couple/three cans of spray paint e.g. Krylon.    But somehow my guts says don't try that.   Are there any strong opinions of do's or don't here?  thanks for your thoughts.

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I have tried a black stain for a small project. It worked Ok, but I wasn't looking for a high gloss on it.

I have sprayed a flat black (Mickey mouse band saw box) on pine using Rustoleum High Performance spray, and it worked better than I had anticipated, especially on pine with no seal coat below the paint.

Working with poplar I think I would sand to 320 grit. Raise the grain and lightly sand at 320 again. Use a good sealer (a couple of light coats of dewaxed shellac).  Scuff with scotch bright. Then lightly spray with your black paint. Use many light coats with a scuff between coats.

You could use an Ebony wood stain followed by a couple of coats of clear varnish. It would look mega.

Google "BLACK FRIARS", their wood stains are fantastic. 

You can use a beeswax instead of varnish too if you prefer.

Good luck.

Zinsser makes very good products

1. Sealer

2. Primer-sealer

nothing is better at permanently blocking stains and wood knots

Works with any top coat.

I use the primer-sealer on wood before applying the paint, 

so as to obtain a evenly finished top coat.

I sand using 220grit, before applying the primer-sealer.

Remove all sanding dust before applying the sealer.

Poplar is a porous material that is uneven in color.

Some areas of poplar is a greenish color.

Without a primer-sealer, you won't get an even finished color.

NOTE:  some black stains will not produce a evenly colored finished surface.


Thin the 1st coat of paint with a 25% cut.

I want the first layer coat to be a thin film.

NOTE:  If spray painting, use a spray booth.

A simple suitable size spray booth can be a wall(s) of cardboard; such as a cardboard box from a large appliance, plastic drop cloth, or the like.

Thank you Tim, Nick and Ken.   Your input has certainly pointed out gaps in my knowledge.   With your input I think I should be able to get this at least 'pretty good'.    I'll probably post the project in about a month  (would like to get it sooner,  but playing in the garage  unfortunately is not my main occupation).

You're welcome Bill. practice on some off cuts, you'll soon get it mate,

Good luck, we look forward to the pics.


RE "Black stain"---it's like a "dye-like" material---

it will not cover the imperfections and color variations in poplar wood.

The variations will be visible when a varnish like material is applied over the black stain.


is a paste-like material.

It's a waxy sticky substance.

I wouldn't use or recommend it, for your application.

The wax will attract and hold dust/dirt particles, 

and be difficult to maintain a clean-like surface.

Before using beeswax on your finished product,

make some sample test pieces, so as to see for yourself the problems you'll run into.

I recently had the same question regarding staining birch plywood a deep black color.

The research I did led me to try black leather dye. This dye in fact.

Worked wonderfully! The blackest black color I've ever used. Doesn't raise the grain. A little went a long way. Used a foam brush. Had no problem with overlap strokes showing up.

The pics are of an equatorial platform for a large telescope.


Try a General Stain it works very well. It is available through Lee Valley in Canada, not sure where you are.  

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