Question about cabinet construction - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 12-17-2010, 10:39 PM Thread Starter
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Question about cabinet construction

About five years ago I had a bathroom remodeled and had a vanity custom made by a local cabinetry shop that was highly recommended by my contractor (a highly regarded local interior designer). The vanity is cherry wood finished with a darker cherry stain (not paint). On the two central doors, which have raised central panels surrounded by the vertical side and horizontal upper and lower edge pieces (my nomenclature is lacking...I hope you understand what I'm talking about) I have noticed (and did when they were new) that the vertical edge pieces are somewhat darker than the horizontal upper and lower edge pieces. I assumed then that this was just a function of the grain running vertically versus horizontally and didn't worry about it.

Now, I'm on to my kitchen cabinet questions: (1) I have noticed the same lighter/darker stain color differences between the vertical and horizontal edge pieces on other folks' stained kitchen cabinet doors. Is this something that is unavoidable or did I (and some other folks as well) just get a cheaper quality cabinet? Can it be avoided and, if so, how? (2) On most kitchen cabinets I've seen the central panels appear to be made of 2"-3" wide planking joined together, with anywhere from bad to pretty good grain matching and anywhere from bad to pretty good stain color matching (the light versus dark thing again). Are all kitchen cabinet central panels so constructed or do any cabinetmakers these days ever use one solid piece of wood for a cabinet panel? In other words, I guess, have I just not seen a high quality cabinet constructed of solid wood that exhibits a consistent stain color? I know I have cherry wood furniture pieces that do not exhibit these color/graining inconsistencies.

Thanks for reading all this and I appreciate your comments.
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post #2 of 8 Old 12-17-2010, 11:08 PM
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wood absorption of stain varies. the top and bottom rails of a door are most often made from the same board (cut to length then ripped) as are the two side door styles (vertical pieces) It isn't unavoidable but the only way (to my knowledge) to make the finish "uniform" is to pre seal all the material prior to staining so as to control the stain absorption.
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post #3 of 8 Old 12-17-2010, 11:55 PM
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Panels are made of 2-3"pieces for stability this is proper on any panel over 6". The expansion and contraction can move on 3/4" thickness up to 1/8" on a width of 12". So panels are glued up for stability. On a High End Custom cabinet boards are hand picked and matched up by the cabinet maker. This type of shop are few and far between . In my gut opinion your cabinet doors were outsourced which is very common and doesn't mean the doors are not of good quality and are cherry.Cherry is known for having a lot of sap wood. This is the blonde areas in the wood. So your dark and light areas are one in the variations of grain and two the way the horizontal rails and the vertical stiles pick up the light. Cherry also is greatly affected by UV light and over time gets a richer hew. The differences in color will never catch up but as a whole they compliment one another . So with this you weren't hoodwinked and got a nice job. You Just weren't given knowledge about different wood species and your expectations may have been disappointed
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post #4 of 8 Old 12-18-2010, 12:00 AM
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Also what mic54 said is true but would have been much worse for you. By finishing in that manner every Nick goes down to bare wood and with traffic of kitchen and bathroom this would be a recipe for disaster
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post #5 of 8 Old 12-18-2010, 02:34 AM
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I haven't been doing this a real long time, about 12 years, but even in that short period of time I have seen a major shift in grain/color matching for cabinets.

When I first started, we would do entire kitchens out of all heart hickory. Now it is standard to have as much sapwood as heartwood. Partially because of the wood supply and partially because that's how people want it. What I am trying to say is it seems to be standard and even preffered by many consumers (blame the interior designsers. Oh yeah, your gc was an interior designer. There you go.) for doors to have some pretty major color variations.

Last edited by sketel; 12-18-2010 at 02:39 AM.
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post #6 of 8 Old 12-18-2010, 07:14 AM
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I never understand this need to stain cherry, its a fabulous timber without stain, mellows beautifully.
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post #7 of 8 Old 12-20-2010, 09:53 PM
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You have to watch out with cherry, a lot of places substitute Alder and other similar woods and stain them dark to look like cherry.
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post #8 of 8 Old 01-02-2011, 08:23 PM
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Over time, boards that are not from the same tree will darken to different hues. Try to make the parts that go together from the same piece of lumbar.
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