The third of Ms.OK's side tables is in the short rows, I just need to finish and fit the drawer and attach the top. This is the second drawer made, the first was square when I clamped it but somewhere between the checking for square and fitting it to the table it cocked about 6mm, it made a nice parallelogram. I have to say I spent a couple of minutes scratching my butt trying to figure a way to save it but in the end sanity won and I'm making a new drawer. Which is the reason for this post.
I hate working Poplar, the only nice things I can say about it is it's better than Pine and it takes Milk Paint really well, which is good because the paint will hide the needed pookey. Bottom line it is really hard to get smooth cross grain cuts such as when chopping and cleaning up tails and pins and it eats edges which in turn leads to more tear out. Gets a little circleur but it also leads to the point of this post.
As is usual to control tear out, one answer is a more acute bevel and sharper iron with smaller cuts. Works to a point but the bevel needs some metal behind it, the iron can only get so sharp, and sneaking up on the line a 0.001 at a time just ain't going to happen.
I usually sharpen free hand but will use a honing jig and I will use my Tormek with both the standard stone and the 3000 grit water stone if needed. When I run into a tear out problem I will usually try different methods of sharpening and different angles of bevel.
In almost every case the results are the same, the jig or machine sharpened iron may work a little better for the first cut (debatable) but after that the free hand sharpened iron with a slight convex bevel will work better and longer. YMMV.
I keep hoping for a different result but it never happens.