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I'm going to build paint grade shaker style vanity cabinet doors. I will use 1/4" plywood for the panel. I haven't loooked, but I'm guessing I can find 1/4" Birch plywood.

I'm not sure what kind of wood to use for the frame. I'm thinking poplar might be a good choice since it's plentiful and looks pretty nice. Price is a factor and I want something that's relatively easy to work with tool-wise. I'd appreciate any suggestions.

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    Are they going to experience hard use? Poplar is good but soft-ish. Closed pore alternatives that’ll take a kicking include maple, birch, beech… those are apt to be a bit more spendy, though. Jan 24 at 23:35

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You can use anything, pretty much. I mean you wouldn't want to use balsa but anything you'd typically find for sale in a lumber yard that you might consider making furniture from — including pine and even some types of spruce — will do you.

I'm thinking poplar might be a good choice

Poplar is a good choice. It's often the go-to pick for paint-grade work because it's a fine-grained hardwood (so no issues with hard and soft growth rings you might get in a softwood), inexpensive, and available almost everywhere. And many consider it too unattractive to use unpainted anyway ^_^

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Since you intend to paint it you can use whatever is cheapest. The caveat is the cheaper stuff is usually the softest (e.g pine, poplar, etc.) and isn't necessarily the pretty stuff. Although it's a matter of personal tastes and preferences.

In my part of the world, sassafrass is pretty cheap right now ($2.60/bf) and pretty good to work with. Where you are, there may be something similar that you can take advantage of.

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  • I didn't know sassafras existed as a type of wood! I don't think you can get it in the SF bay area (where I am). HD sells poplar that looks very nice in terms of uniformity. They have some other woods that I'll look at again.
    – rebar
    Jan 25 at 18:27
  • @rebar - Yep! I knew there was such a thing, but I never used it before. It's an Eastern tree--not sure if you can get it in SF. I bought a bunch of shorts and off-cuts from the wood store to make Christmas cutting boards, and by mistake, one of the planks was 6/4 sassafras. It was in the bin with the maple (I didn't look too closely) but once I started machining it the whole shop smelled strong like root beer! Once I figured it out, I developed an appreciation for the stuff. It's nice to work with and best of all, it's cheap. I understand it's very good for outdoor projects.
    – gnicko
    Jan 25 at 20:52
  • and the added benefit that the shop always smells like root beer!
    – rebar
    Jan 26 at 0:18
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    @rebar don't go to the big-box for your hardwoods. If you're in the Bay Area, you should have dozens of lumber suppliers to chose from. Shop local for something like this - they'll probably order just about anything for you if you ask nicely (and are willing to pay). If necessary, go to a woodworkers chain store as your next option. They may have a somewhat limited stock of lumber, but they can probably order something in for you.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 27 at 18:56
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    @FreeMan - The experience of buying relatively straight boards is alone worth going to a lumber dealer instead of the BigBox. Throw in the fact that you pay like a third or a quarter of the BigBox price for it is just icing on the cake!
    – gnicko
    Jan 27 at 19:47

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