Common Cabinet Woods
Your wood options include:
Maple: Generally a straight, tight grain, but expect occasional wavy flows and bird’s eye patterning. Maple’s soft grain pattern allows it to easily adapt to both traditional and contemporary designs, making it easy to see why maple is the number one wood choice for cabinetry. A very durable wood, maple finishes well, making it an excellent choice for stains and glazes.
Cherry: A very refined, straight and close grain gives cherry its smooth and elegant look. This smoothness makes it well suited for mixing with other woods. Its sophistication is belied by its rough and tough characteristics: Cherry is extremely durable and finishes well.
Oak: Oak’s coarser natural texture results in a relatively defined straight grain that’s more open and casual than elegant. Oak’s porous nature makes it extremely absorbent: The darker the stain, the more apparent the grain pattern; light stains reduce its visibility. Among the most common cabinetry woods, oak’s durability and finishing characteristics make it a sound choice.
Pine: Pine’s straight grain is relatively long and continuous, with knots that give your cabinets a more rugged look. Southern yellow pine is much more durable than white pine; be sure to ask what you’re getting. In general, pine tends to be softer wood.
Alder: Once dismissed because of its weed-like growing habits, the Pacific Northwest’s most abundant hardwood is one of the most in-demand options. Consistent in color, alder tends to range from a pale pinkish-brown to almost white. Because it has a close grain and readily accepts stain, red alder can imitate cherry, mahogany, and even walnut.
Birch: Though white paper birch may be the most familiar, the prevalent yellow birch species is the most valued commercial lumber birch. Commonly found in stock cabinetry, this cream-colored wood may stain unevenly.
Hickory: A relative of the walnut family, hickory is one of the strongest and heaviest used American woods. With colors ranging from white to a ruddy brown, this relatively straight and fine grain accepts medium to dark finishes and bleaches well.