Learn to Choose the Right Wood for Every Job at Cabinetmaking School

November 14, 2018

Cabinetmaking students spend a lot of time working with wood, building cabinets and other types of furniture and fixtures like shelves, tables and benches. While there are many other options for building materials, none can match the warmth and unique character of wood, with its distinct grain patterns, color variations and texture. This is where much of the artistry of the trade comes in, as cabinetmakers not only design unique custom pieces, but also choose the right materials to bring them to life. If you’re looking for a career in the trades that allows you to flex your creativity, cabinetmaking is a great option.

Knowing what type of wood to use for different projects can be overwhelming at times. The right training will teach you that there are many options to choose from including manufactured woods like plywood, softwoods like pine or cedar, and hardwoods like mahogany, walnut or oak. Each type might vary in terms of its relative hardness as well as its colour, grain, and how well it accepts paints or stains.

Read on to learn how to choose the right wood for every job at cabinetmaking school and beyond.

Cedar and Redwood are Great Options for Outdoor Projects

Not all woods can handle moist environments without warping or rotting, so it’s particularly important to choose the right wood for anything that might be left outside, like a set of patio furniture or an outdoor bench, for example.

Cedar comes in several varieties, with the most common being western red. It’s a relatively soft wood, with a straight grain and a pleasant, aromatic smell. Redwood also has a straight grain, and like western red cedar, a slight reddish tint. Both of these softwoods are good options for students in cabinetmaking training working on outdoor projects, as they’re resistant to moisture and won’t rot or warp if left outside.

Oak and redwood are typically top choices for cabinetmakers when working on outdoor furniture

Common Hardwoods Used by Cabinetmaking Professionals

Oak is one of the most commonly used hardwoods for cabinets and furniture. It has a light to medium brown colour, and coarse and uneven grain which can be stained or painted. Oak comes in two varieties, red and white. White oak is the preferable option for furniture-making, and like cedar and redwood, it can be used for outdoor projects, although red oak cannot.

Another great hardwood for furniture is mahogany. With a reddish-brown to deep-red colour and a straight grain, it takes stain well and looks great with a natural finish, although it can be much pricier than oak and your future clients may not be willing to splurge on mahogany.

Walnut is attractive and easy to work with, but can also be rather expensive, and for this reason, is often only used for accents or inlays. Poplar, on the other hand, is one of the least expensive hardwoods, and is also easy to work with. It’s considered less attractive than walnut or other hardwoods, though, so is usually painted, or used for less visible pieces, like drawers.

Other common hardwoods that students in cabinetmaking schoolmight use for furniture and cabinet-building are cherry, maple, beech, and ash.

Cabinetmaking students know that the type of wood chosen can impact the finished look of cabinets

What Students in Cabinetmaking Training Should Consider When Choosing

There may be several options that work for any particular project, and it’s important to keep all of the relevant factors in mind when choosing. These include the grain and colour of a wood, its ability to take stain or paint, its workability and relative hardness and its price, among other things. For students in cabinetmaking, these choices are all part of the artistry that goes into a well-made custom piece of furniture.

Are you interested in going to trade school for a career in cabinetmaking?

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