The difference in color between the horizontals and verticals is just the wood. Wood from one tree doesn't necessarily match wood from another tree even though they are the same species.
I don't know if I would get involved in using a toner. It takes a lot of practice to be able to use a toner and get the color uniform. That kind of needs to be left to an experienced finisher. Another product that would be easier to use is an alcohol based dye stain such as this. http://www.mohawk-finishing.com/cata...asp?ictNbr=178
It's a lot more transparent than a toner and therefore easier to get more uniform. The finish would need to be scuff sanded first for it to bond to.
Also -- the difference in color the responder is talking about is just due to the lighting and the camera angle anyway.
Another question for you, though. Now that we have identified the side panels as vinyl-covered particle board, my husband is asking what we can do about those. The problem as he describes it is that you can't remove those panels, so they cannot be replaced, and they also cannot be covered with a veneer-covered plywood because that would be too thick. I suggested we look at just using that super-thin, paper-like wood veneer (http://www.rockler.com/psa-pressure-...inch-x-96-inch
). (Actually, I suggested we leave it alone, then when he pushed, the paper-thin veneer was my next suggestion.
) He wants me to ask you about it, though. Is that something doable on a cabinet end? All I can find online is article after article about painting that crap, and I do not want painted cabinets ever, but especially not just to deal with three small end panels! Covering those vinyl panels with thin veneer or leaving them alone are, in my opinion, the only viable options, but as usual, he doesn't trust me.
Is there another option I'm missing? And with that thin veneer, do you finish it first and then apply it, or apply it and then finish it?
I hope this makes sense!