Wood Descriptions

The beauty of real hardwood is created by the variation of grain texture and color. Wood is particularly noted for its variety in graining. This is the nature of the hardwood species and unusual graining of color variations are a natural and acceptable condition of quality wood finishes.

Color variation is more pronounced in lighter stain colors. After hardwoods are finished, they are affected by exposure to sunlight and other types of light. This slow change, called “mellowing”, is always occurring so that in a year’s time, a significant difference in the color has occurred. Cherry wood is notable for its rapid and significant mellowing. New cabinets will never be the same color as an aged sample or display.

Poplar primarily used for painted cabinets, is a lightweight, relatively stable wood which is moderately soft with fine, uniform texture and closed grain. The heartwood is pale olive brown to yellow brown; sapwood is off white to grayish white. Poplar, when used with a finish, will always give a greenish cast.

Red Oak is an open grained hardwood with varying grain patterns. When finished, there will be a noted difference in the shades between the open and closed grain of the wood. Red Oak is occasionally streaked with green, yellow and black mineral deposits. The color of Red Oak ranges from a soft brown to a pink shade to a white cast. These natural color variations between pieces enhance the character of the finished product.

Knotty Alder Same as Clear Alder. Cut with closed sound knots.

Natural Birch is moderately heavy, hard, and strong with excellent machining and finishing characteristics. It is close grained with even texture. The heartwood is cream to light brown yellowish in color with white sapwood.

Ash is open grained, hard, heavy, and stable. Its color is white to off white and tan sapwood with limited light brown hardwood. Ash works and resembles oak with wavy graining.

Clear Alder is fine textured and light weight with a durable impact resistance. Grain pattern is similar to Natural Birch and Cherry. Clear Alder can often be mistaken for Cherry when certain stain colors are used.


Hard Maple
is a strong, close-grain wood that has creamy white sapwood and light brown to reddish brown heartwood with occasional mineral deposits. Maple is generally characterized by its evenly spaced predominantly straight grained appearance, although it can have wavy or very curly grain.

Hickory is open-grained hardwood that is very hard, very heavy and very strong. The sapwood is light to golden white and the heartwood is light to dark brown which gives either a wide variation of color. It also has black mineral streaks that can show up anywhere. All this variation adds to the natural beauty of either wood but also means that one cabinet door or drawer front can have a great deal of color variation. Because of this natural color wildness, Hickory cabinets cannot be returned due to color variation.

Cherry is a moderately heavy, hard and strong wood. Cherry machines and sands to a glasslike smoothness. It is noted for its porous, closed grained patterns. Ordinarily, Cherry may be identified by the appearance of occasional “gum spots”.

Walnut is moderately dense and hard; strong in comparison to weight. Texture is fine and even. Heartwood is variegated dark, chocolate brown, sometimes with a purplish cast with a nearly white sapwood. Walnut will always finish dark even if a clear coat process is used.

White Oak is straight grained with a medium-coarse to coarse texture. The sapwood is narrow, light-colored, nearly white and the heartwood is light to dark brown. White oak is mostly straight-grained with a medium to coarse texture, with longer rays than red oak. Grains look the same except for the rays and color.

Quater Sawn Red and White Oak quartersawn wood has a decorative pattern on the board From the way the wood was cut. Qtr Swn Oaks are more resistant against warping with changes in moisture and, while shrinkage can occur, it is less troublesome. This method of cutting yields less wood and therefore is more expensive, but more desirable due to the look and strenghts.

Rift White Oak is produced by quartering the log, then sawing it perpendicular to the growth rings. This method of sawing accentuates the straight, vertical grain.While the look is similar to quarter-sawn lumber, the angle of the cuts are slightly different, minimizing the “flake” effect that is common in quarter-sawn.