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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wood Cabinet Doors: Consistently Random

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If I had to chose one material for my kitchen cabinet doors that I had to live with for the rest of my life, it would without a doubt be wood.  Perhaps it's because I was born and raised in the rugged wilderness of (Vancouver) British Columbia or perhaps it's just the natural randomness of the grain, but wood just feels good to be around.

But as much as that "natural randomness" adds to the character of wood, it also presents some issues if you're looking for something a bit more consistent.  Now I know that sounds like common sense, but you'd be surprised how many clients have expressed concerns that their wood doors aren't exactly the same colour throughout.

Here are some examples of different things to look out for when selecting wood doors:
Woods like walnut, hickory or this heart birch door are not for the faint of heart to be sure.  They are all about the grain variation.  No amount of staining is going to get this door to even out.  If you don't love it, stay away.

But even something like maple door is subject to colour tone variations.  This door is 100% solid Eastern Maple and is finished in a clear lacquer.  Depending on the angle of light and the angle you are looking at it the rails and stiles of the door take on different colour qualities.

To add to the conundrum, the door looked perfectly even in colour before it was finished.  This means that even if you wanted to take the time and effort to select pieces of wood that matched you'd have no idea how they would turn out after they were finished.

This is a cherry door finished in a "Tobacco" stain.  Cherry has been the wood of choice over maple when a dark stain is desired because maple has the tendency to get a bit blotchy when stained dark.  However, even with the "better" wood the variation between the different parts of the doors can still be quite noticeable.

When selecting wood cabinetry for your project, try whenever possible to see an example of the wood in a larger installation.  A single door sample just isn't going to give you a true indication of what you can expect.  It doesn't even need to be the exact species and door stye you're considering, just the wood and as close to the colour you'd like as possible will do.  Sometimes the randomness can even out in a larger installation. 

Do your homework.  You'll thank me later.

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