I’m in the process of making a larger jewellery box in 6mm poplar ply. I chose poplar over birch for several reasons: 6mm birch ply is difficult to get, it is expensive and it’s at the limit of what my laser cutter can comfortably handle. The drawback of poplar is that the grain is barely visible and not nearly as beautiful as birch.
I think staining one wood to look like another wood is naff and I won’t do it. Staining wood a colour is ok for me and I’ve been experimenting with Chestnut Rainbow Colours. Chestnut’s web site looks like it fell out of a rent in the space time continuum from 1990 and I’ve never seen black in a rainbow. But the black stain, when heavily diluted, brings out poplar’s grain and looks great.
I diluted the stain 1 part stain to 12 parts Osmo Polyx oil and applied a very thin coat with a cloth. A second coat (drying a I type this) completes the finish.