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Making my own cabinet doors and drawers

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  • Making my own cabinet doors and drawers

    Hello Everyone,
    I am new to this forum,and I know I will be in here a lot.I am planning on making new doors and drawers for my cabinets.Right now,they are all MDF,and I want them to be wood.I am not going to replace the boxes,but instead,I plan to cover them completely with some sort of wood vaneer,as close to the chosen wood as possible.Unless,a slight difference would look good,giving the cabinets some unique character.I am planning to sort of go 'out of the norm' in creating my own doors and drawers,sort of like 'one of a kind' cabinets.
    I have some knowledge of wood working,but I am not extremely knowledgable in every aspect of wood working,and I have never made any doors or drawers before.But I don't forsee a problem.
    My questions here are mainly just to get a little direction about some different types of wood,the availability of the woods,costs,and information that will help me with routing,such as a source where I can see some diagrams of routed woods,descibing the bits and general info about them.
    I have seen many bits at Home Depot,but there is not any pamplets or anything showing the different variations of routing bit cuts.
    I am also limited to Pine,Red Oak,and Poplar woods at Home Depot.I am considering using Poplar wood.Are there any bad reasons why I should not use Poplar for my doors and drawers?
    I would like to use Hickory,but I haven't located any as of yet.
    I live in Ga.south of the Atlanta area.Any answers and advice to my questions will be appreciated.

  • #2
    Well, since I am also new to this forum, I'll jump in on pert of your question. Poplar is a wood that is easy to work, but, due to the large variations in color characteristics, is used more for painted projects than stained projects. I have stained poplar, however, and got acceptable results. As long as the color on each piece was uniform. I have found that ash will take stain very similiar to oak, but is cheaper. Yuo say you are limited to HD, that means no access to lumber yards? A full service lumber yard will have many varieties of wood available. HTH.
    Mac<P>Problems are opportunities in disguise


    • #3
      Thanks for info.But let me ask you,in staining Poplar,would it be better to use a lighter stain,to get a natural look,or because of the grain,should I use a darker stain?My preference is to go with a more natural look than a dark look.Our counter tops are the Ebony Star,which is black with little white specks in them,and I am going to lay down a pre-finished hardwood floor later on and it may be a little darker than the cabinets.No,I am not limited to Home Depot,I have located a lumber yard in my area,and have been told about a couple of others also.Other than Red Oak,HD only carries poplar and of course Pine.I don't want to use Pine,but I am not ruling it out.Other than what you mentioned,is there any other bad points in using poplar,since it is easily available?My first choice for the wood that I would like to use,is Hickory.But I assume that it is more expensive than some other woods,and I hear that it is rough on router bits and blades.Any advice there?


      • #4
        This might sound like a step backward, but you might want to try high speed steel bits rather than carbide when routing poplar. It tends to "fuzz" a lot with carbide bits, as a GOOD steel bit is usually a little sharper than carbide, and has a differnent cutting angle. They won't dull for a while either, as poplar is technically a softwood. Staining is kinda hit-or-miss too, due to poplars grain structure. Hope this helps.............Dawg [img]smile.gif[/img]
        He who dies with the most power tools wins!


        • #5
          My experience with poplar has been with single piece projects and light stains. I chose wood that was a uniform color. I don't think the tone of the stain will make a difference. The large color difference between the heart and sap wood will be the problem. A dark stain may negate that difference. The best way to find out is to get a multi-colored piece, stain it, and find out. What Wood Dawg said about the carbide router bits is true. I sanded all the profiles a lot, due to the feathering.

          As to the sources, lumber yards are usually less expensive and carry a greater variety. If I have a small project, I often get wood from HD, but for more than two sheets of plywood, or more than two or three oak boards, I make the trip to the yard.
          Mac<P>Problems are opportunities in disguise


          • #6
            Darel, if you want to use Hickory, that's what you should use. Being a woodworker means getting what you want.

            You say you live south of Atlanta. Is that south like in you could drive there for your supplies, or south like in a gazillion miles away? I know people in Atlanta, there are good wood suppliers there.

            Around here, I can buy Pecan (which in lumber terms is the same as Hickory, oddly enough), for half or less the price Home Depot wants for Red Oak. All those sales clerks and long store hours come at a huge price.

            If you were to go out and price even an inexpensive set of doors for your cabinets, you would find them to be quite expensive compared to doing your own, even when you use the stock you really want. My strong suggestion is to go with what you want.



            • #7

              You might want to try Atlanta Hardwoods. Great selection and resonable prices. This website will give you and idea of their selection and locations.

              Good luck,
              Wood Dog


              • #8
                Thanks guys,
                All of yall's advice will be helpful.
                So you say Pecan wood is very close to Hickory,but a lot cheaper?If going with a natural look,will the pecan have similarities to the Hickory,as in the look of the grain?
                I am about 30 miles south of Atlanta,so I plan to find lumber yards as local as possible,even down towards the Macon area if needed.Say,maybe Barnesville,Zebulon,something like that.I'll check out the web site,thanks.


                • #9
                  Darel, First off, welcome to a new level of woodworking. Once I made my first raised panel cabinet doors I was totally hooked.

                  I think the Atlanta Wood products is your best bet (Wooddawg posted link). I go there quite often and they have a great selection of "traditional" and exotic woods. Just get your plans together in advance and buy enough wood that you don't have to make the drive again if you come up short.

                  If you decide to go with the Depot, I would suggest the red oak. You have already heard enough about poplar and I would caution that the pine I have purchased there in the past has not always been dry. One early project I made actually had sap run from it. Being fairly new to woodworking, you probably don't want to deal with moisture readings and drying the wood, so I would go with what is ready "off the shelf".

                  As far as the router bits, I would see if there is a Woodcraft anywhere near you where you can get some face to face help. Otherwise, you can certainly pick up good bits on the web.

                  Good luck and have fun.


                  • #10
                    Actually, the wood from the Hickory tree and from the Pecan tree are graded and sold as the same wood. What it is called probably depends as much on where you're buying it as anything else. Texas is Pecan territory (it's our State Tree), so it is all listed as "Pecan".

                    I call these "composite species", multiple trees sold as the same lumber. Maples and Oaks are others where several species are sold as under the same name. For the exotics, Purpleheart is about 20 different trees.



                    • #11
                      Thanks Jerry for info.But let me ask you,pertaining to exotic hardwoods,let's say,Tulipwood from Africa,are the exotic hardwoods really that astronomically expensive,or would they be worth checking into?Of course I know it's a preference thing,and for some,money is no object.But in my case,money is a factor,but if some of the exotics are really not that much more,then I would consider them.Tulipwood is a beautiful wood;I have seen a wooden bowl made out of it,but I don't know the pricing of it.
                      I have a Teak desk given to me from my mom-in-law,that she purchased in Denmark back in the 60's,so Teak is another one of my exotic choices.Are you saying that Woodcraft is a store?If so,maybe we don't have one in the area since I don't seem to be familiar with it.I'll see if they have a web site to check out.But as for router bits,wouldn't those at Home Depot be just as good as bits from any other place?If not,why?Thanks.


                      • #12
                        Woodcraft is a store, I go to the one in Roswell.

                        I don't think HD will carry router bits to make raised panels for your doors or the bits used to make the stiles and rails.

                        Look back in American Woodworker mag for a good step by step instruction on making raised panel doors - one great key is to finish the panel (stain and poly) before assembling. That way you don't see a seam as the wood naturally expands and shrinks.

                        As far as woods, I would go with either oak, maple or cherry, but I am a traditionalist. As far as exotics are concerned, I believe the Atlanta hardwoods web site has pricing on there.