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Thread: Choice of wood for kitchen cabinets

  1. #1
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    Question Choice of wood for kitchen cabinets

    OK - I'm being tempted. Disappointed with the offerings from both the big box store and custom suppliers, I'm seriously considering building my own. I'm looking into contracting out the drawers, but doing the boxes, face frames, and doors myself.

    I've priced out pre-finished plywood for the boxes - $98 for maple, $68 for birch. As for the material for the face frames and doors, I'm considering vertical grain doug fir. It will match the woodwork in the house and will give the "arts & crafts" look I'm going for. My supplier stocks VG DF A/A plywood in both 1/4 an 3/4. (In the west many, if not most, of the turn of the century bungalows were trimmed out with DF, even the built-ins. QSWO was just not as plentiful this far west of the Mississippi.)

    Question - VG DF is not the hardest of woods. Is this going to be a real drawback or just something I need to be aware of in building and maintaining them? I'd rather not go with a 'conventional' cabinet wood - what's the use of a custom built cabinet if it looks like one off the shelf?

    Anyone have a preference for the pre-finished? Maple or birch? Seems to me the maple might hold up, and look, better.
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  2. #2
    We use both at work and to me the maple looks better. But we only pay $57 a sheet for domestic. Wonder what the difference is?

    When we were getting ready to start ours it was going to be cherry. Went to the sawmill and they were sold out. Saw the pecan and loml said she liked it and that it would be different than anyone elses.

    You said you have doug fir for the trim? How has it held up around the door openings? It is soft. How about a distressed look for the finish on the cabinets. Then you don't have to worry about it so much.

  3. #3
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    Since you're in the Northwest, maybe give some thought to Alder? I used it in my kitchen at the California house, and got some rave reviews on it from neighbors, as well as from prospective buyers when the place was on the market.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim DeLaney View Post
    Since you're in the Northwest, maybe give some thought to Alder? I used it in my kitchen at the California house, and got some rave reviews on it from neighbors, as well as from prospective buyers when the place was on the market.
    I've worked with alder - nice stuff. However, alder, especially knotty alder, has become a rather common choice for cabinets around here. I'm trying to stay away from the norm and I don't know how the alder would fit in with my DF trim and mahogany floors.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Bienlein View Post
    We use both at work and to me the maple looks better. But we only pay $57 a sheet for domestic. Wonder what the difference is?

    When we were getting ready to start ours it was going to be cherry. Went to the sawmill and they were sold out. Saw the pecan and loml said she liked it and that it would be different than anyone elses.

    You said you have doug fir for the trim? How has it held up around the door openings? It is soft. How about a distressed look for the finish on the cabinets. Then you don't have to worry about it so much.
    I'm guessing transportation is a big part of the cost - not that many maple trees in Idaho. Also, this is true wood veneer not a synthetic look alike. Don't know if that's part of the equation.

    The doug fit trim has not been up very long, but the #2 pine I used for all the built-ins and bed I made has held up very well and I believe that to be at least as soft.
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    Host of the 2017 Family Woodworking Gathering - Sunken Wood

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  5. #5
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    I'm nobody here, but I vote for the DF. Beautiful.
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  6. #6
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    I have a friend who built his kitchen cabs out of old growth vg fir. The advantage to old growth is the tightness of the rings makes the wood considerably harder than plantation harvested wood. If you're interested, the old growth can still be had around here (Puget Sound). However, the twist is that the wood now comes from resawed industrial beams from demo projects.

    PS - my friends house is exactly as you describe, a "northwest craftsman" with vg Doug Fir trim -- and his cabinets were built with a craftsman flair.

    PPS - the place I referred to last night is: Ruckman's Cabinet Doors, (253) 531-9132, 14002 Canyon Rd E, Puyallup, WA 98373. I can personally vouch for their quality and professionalism. These guys do drawers as well.

  7. #7
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    Trust yourself Rennie.

    If you like VG DF, go for it.

    If it fits the area and helps to blend the house together, that's a good enough reason...

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  8. #8
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    That bedroom is awesome! Based on those pictures, complete confidence in your selection there Rennie!
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

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  9. #9
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    I don't think you or your LOYL are going to be to rough on the wood nor do I think there is much of a chance of your having your own little ones running around. You may have occasional visit by grand kids but they can do no wrong so I'd say if DF looks right, go for it.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  10. #10
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    my vote is that the maple does look better than the birch prefinish ply but you arent really seeing the insides much rennie.. if you are thinkun of having panels out of the ply as well then go with what matches the vg the closest.. if it were me i would use the birch inside and use the savings to get the right drawers and your vg dg fir your after..
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