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help contemporary cherry, sap wood- nervous

Posted by ani_t (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 4, 07 at 3:23

I found a place that does cabinets.
I wanted slab doors in natural cherry. I saw some startling contrast in some of the doors that they had installed which I really disliked. Since the I have read about sap wood and cherry's different darkeing characteristics.

Also read that alder (which kind of looks like cherry to me- apparently to many people) can be stained to look like cherry. but then I read about blotching and also dont like the alder stuff I have found on the net so far.

I am trying to find some good pictures of contemporary cherry cabinets, alder cabinets which dont have too much variation. How can I get my cabinet maker (they buy their doors) to give me a consistently colored wood ?

At this point I am about to give up and do laminate cherry doors which are at least consistent...

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: help contemporary cherry, sap wood- nervous

Tell them you do not want any sapwood cherry. They tell the company that makes the doors to supply only heartwood in the doors. The cabinet company is probably going to use cherry plywood in every place they can---it seldom has sapwood. The face frames(cabinet fronts) should be solid cherry wood(not plywood) unless they use veneered wood.

Put all that in a contract and have it signed by them. Then you have legal recourse if for some odd reason it is not correct.

RE: help contemporary cherry, sap wood- nervous

Thankyou for you reply,

If I understand you correctly, the cabinet fronts mean the frame thing to which the doors are attached right ? I am ok if there is sap wood in that because I want a full overlay.
My concern is the doors- which can be solid or veneer. Should I avoid solid doors because veneer doors have a better chance of not having sap wood ?

They are ordering doors from some big door manufacturer.
Can I specify no sap-wood ? Is there some door manufacturer you would recommend.

I have been looking online on some realestate sites to see how cherry doors look in multimillion dollar homes and all in all they look pretty ghastly - not at all like the warm lovely soft colors I see in magazines... My thinking is - if these people with all their money could not get nice looking cherry, not much hope for me.

RE: help contemporary cherry, sap wood- nervous

If your goal is purely dark red cherry, then just have it stained. (As much as I dislike applying stain to cherry. Yuckkkkk!) Natural cherry will have variation. IMHO, I like to see variation in wood. This is part of its beauty, something I have learned to love by using it.

I once found a ghastly piece of blue stained maple in a box store. No other person in the store would have touched it. In my hands, it made a lovely clock to hang on our wall. Don't even get me started on the great things you can find in spalted wood.

So it very much depends on your definition of what is "nice" looking wood. Expand your horizons.


RE: help contemporary cherry, sap wood- nervous

ani, the frames on the faces of cabinet boxes are called "face frames." If you have frameless cabinets then the band of wood used to cover the front edges of the plywood or particle board boxes is called "edge banding."

Your mistake when looking in the real-estate ads is that you're assuming expensive homes are typically built with the finest furnishings available to them. There are plenty of large, cheaply-built houses in pricey neighborhoods or regions of the country; you don't have to make the same choices. Avoiding sapwood will definitely cost you, but doesn't have to be prohibitive.

You're clearly a discerning customer. Don't assume that your preferences are universally shared or understood. Things that you find ghastly may look just fine to the shop you're dealing with, so you need to make very, very sure they understand what you're after. I'm inclined to dissuade you from micro-managing your cabinet makers by dictating door suppliers and such. Make sure you're crystal clear with them about what you want, see what they can suggest and make sure you get the specs in writing so they don't get too creative in interpreting your requests.

RE: help contemporary cherry, sap wood- nervous

Good advice from jon again.

Cherry is a much misunderstood wood. I have a friend who spent thousands for 'cherry' furniture from a reputable store. It was that very dark color---and turned out to actually be cherry colored alder with a six step finishing process that almost completely obscured the wood---since real cherry does not have the even grain consistancy as alder.

Even cherry heart wood can have a large difference in color. The major draw for cherry in a home, IMHO, is the fact it darkens naturally over time.

So, if you want an even color/grain look---and like the color of most natural cherry---talk with the cabinet maker about how to get the look you want, rather than restricting them to a specific wood.

Oh, one other thing, most magazine pictures are heavily posed professionally lighted and color doctored---internet pictures are not.

RE: help contemporary cherry, sap wood- nervous

Thanks for the replies. I apologize if I have offended anyone about the "ghastly" comment. I shoul clarify: for the contemporary look I want and can afford, the cabinets need to be of even coloring. I like the natural cherry look AND darkened cherry but DH thinks it will look depressing (gloomy kitchen), lots of red oak paneling in the house, light colored baseboard and door trim. We want to keep it light.
So I am trying to see if there is some wood that goes with it. I like look of "natural cherry" but darkend may not go very well with the light wood.
I definitely dont want to stain cherry, it looks so beautiful natural and darkened, in a brighter home i would get it in a heartbeat.
I will talk the cabinet makers and see what they have to say about getting the look.
They dont have too many samples or how the door will look so I want to see what other options i have to check out the wood colors and grain...

RE: help contemporary cherry, sap wood- nervous

No apology necessary. We all have preferences---and it is your kitchen, so you desires are paramount. There are many different possibilities---maybe even a different shop.

RE: help contemporary cherry, sap wood- nervous

It is your kitchen, and you need to be happy. You will surely find a cabinet shop that will be willing to ensure no sapwood, although everything comes with a price. Be aware that cherry will darken with exposure to light, and I have seen a fair variance in the amount of darkening, even with no sapwood present.


RE: help contemporary cherry, sap wood- nervous

The cabinet makers have been pulling a fast one with cherry sap wood for years.
While sapwood is counted in measure for purchasing, it is trimmed away in ALL high class work and discarded.
The claims that it is not a defect are just BS.
Limited attempts used to be made to stain it to match, but this is relatively difficult and requires skill.

If you are working with a custom cabinet maker simply tell them no sapwood.
You will not find sapwood in high end cherry furniture, why should you allow it in cabinet work?

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