A defining feature of our cabinetry is solid wood casework; we choose to build this way for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Here are a few:
Real wood is serviceable.
Repairs in solid wood are relatively quick and easy, whereas when plywood is scratched, the thin veneer poses a real problem. Sanding through to the adhesive just below the surface is a common issue when attempting to take out a mark in veneer plywood. There is no good repair option for scratched or water damaged melamine.
Strength and durability
Real wood will stand up to the inevitable under sink leak and drips from a drying pot. Superficial damage may occur, but nothing as troubling as disintegrating melamine, delaminating veneers, and peeling edge tape. As mentioned above, repair and refinish is simple and the structure of the cabinet isn’t compromised. With solid lumber, shelves span greater widths without “shelf sag”. This also opens up layout possibilities as we create spaces for kitchen tools, books, and drawers.
Design flexibility and authenticity
Contemporary designs sometimes call for a dramatic span that only solid wood can handle.Solid millwork is essential where designs reference pre-WWII woodwork, before plywood was available and the three-quarter inch, four by eight panel began to drive all cabinet design.When limited to man-made panels, design conforms to the ubiquitous four by eight foot sheet in three-quarter inch thickness.
The difference between a solid wood cabinet interior and a man-made panel is striking. Real wood has real life and movement in its grain and coloring. Workshop visitors are drawn to the solid carcasses for reasons that aren’t always possible to explain. Intuitively, real wood feels better.
The economics of sourcing good lumber
When it’s time to look for lumber, we start by calling a handful of small, independent sawyers and reclaimers that we’ve met over the last twenty years. We can trust them to know what we need and what they have.Resources are not diverted to advertising, lobbying, or dividends. There is no industrial panel manufacturing plant between the tree and the installed cabinet. The value of our payment to the sawyer is returned directly in lumber and good service.
By committing to solid wood construction, we know that our sawdust, shavings and offcuts will biodegrade. The issue of off-gassing plywood or melamine adhesives in homes is avoided entirely. Locally, we are a source of sawdust for gardeners and landscapers.Traditional ceramicists use our shavings to pit-fire their clay. Offcuts go to fireplaces and backyard grills.When a forest is clear cut for man-made panel core material, we know that we haven’t supported that action with our purchases.