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Save some scratch using secondary woods

Poplar, soft maple, pine, and plywood: These oft-maligned also-rans of commercially available wood products bring stability, strength, and -- most importantly -- savings to your furniture projects. Use these tips to squeeze even more out of secondary woods.

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Master furnituremakers of centuries-past hid common, unremarkable woods behind a showy and expensive primary wood. You can, too, by keeping a supply of poplar or soft maple on hand to cut by half the cost of hidden project parts -- dust dividers, bracing, nailing cleats, and drawer sides and backs.

Save even more by shopping in your scrap bin first. Those early furnituremakers notoriously mixed and matched whatever was nearest at hand for their secondary woods. You might be surprised by the amount of secondary wood you can cull from your scrap -- or even the sawn-off sapwood from your primary wood.


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