Natural wood makes for beautiful and unique carpentry. It has applications in flooring, cabinets, furniture, and more and always lends a sense of authenticity and quality to a space. Choosing the right wood is not just a matter of seeing something you like and going for it. Here are three basic wood characteristics that should be considered before buying.
Color Me Impressed
Color may be the most versatile of the wood characteristics we will discuss here. That’s because it does not necessarily have to be intrinsic to the wood. Unlike the other wood characteristics on this list, color can be changed after the wood is cut and even assembled. Stain can alter the color of wood while still preserving its natural appearance, while paint is a coating with even more variety.
If, however, you prefer to opt for wood that is naturally the color of your choice, even unstained wood offers many options. If you want a light wood, consider building with teak or beech, but if you are looking for deeper and richer hues, mahoganies and ebonies are likely a better fit.
The Right Grain of Thought
Grain is a wood characteristic that is dependent on how the wood is cut. The term refers to the arrangement of the wood’s fibers. Here too homeowners have a lot of options, from flat or straight grain to diagonal, curly, or irregular. Some wood species have different grain options while others have only one.
Should Wood Grain Be Horizontal or Vertical?
When constructing cabinets, grain direction must be taken into account. There are two methods for working with wood grain when building: non-grain match and grain matching. The easier of the two methods, and usually the less expensive, is to build without trying to line up grain patterns. When done well, this can highlight unique features of the wood like color differences. It also makes replacing doors and drawers easier since they don’t have to be matched.
For a more finished and streamlined look, however, grain matching is a powerful tool. It is done either horizontally or vertically. Vertical grain matching ensures that the grain pattern of a cabinet is consistent between the cabinet frame and its doors and drawers. The lines of the unit are uninterrupted. Vertical grain matching produces this effect between two units—the grain pattern continues from one cabinet to the one beside it.
Knot Just Any Wood Characteristic
Knots are unique marks in wood which the rest of the wood has to weave around. They appear as patterned dark circles or holes along the wood’s grain and the surrounding wood bends and curves around them. These wood characteristics add visual interest and a rugged sense of authenticity.
Knots are evidence of where a branch protruded from the tree’s trunk and interrupted the grain. The smallest knots indicate dead branches falling off. Knots are a perfectly normal wood characteristic, and many people favor them for their unique visual appeal. However, they are not without their challenges.
The Pros and Cons of Wood Knots
Knots make any piece of wood completely individual. They interrupt a uniform grain and can, therefore, be more interesting to look at. They can also, unfortunately, weaken a piece of wood. This is dependent on the number, size, and location of the knots, but a good rule of thumb is that the more knots, the weaker the wood.
What Type of Wood Has Knots?
As with most things in nature, predicting the extent to which a piece of wood contains knots is difficult. Generally speaking, trees that grow more rapidly are less likely to have many knots. Trees that grow more slowly are often characterized by more knots. Alder is known to have many “pin” knots, smaller than a quarter inch. You are likely to find knots in planks of cedar, oak, and pine.
What is the best wood for Cabinets?
The right wood for your cabinets is a very subjective decision and depends on many factors, including tensile strength, appearance, and even budget. You must consider environmental factors like temperature and humidity as well as more appearance-based considerations like color and luxury. Cabinets are commonly made from maple, cherry, oak, pine, and hickory because these woods hold up well in common kitchen conditions.
Every piece of wood is unique. Even pieces from the same species can have noticeable variations. Do not let this discourage you. One of the perks of building your cabinets from natural wood is that you are sure to get pieces that are completely one-of-a-kind. If you need help choosing the right wood and wood characteristics for your cabinets, let the professionals help.