Wood for kitchen cabinets

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Forum topic by carver1942 posted 11-07-2013 06:03 PM 1556 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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93 posts in 1700 days

11-07-2013 06:03 PM

Hello I will be building kitchen cabinets soon, and had planned on using oak for the face frames and doors. Trying to decide the stain to use my wife changed her mind and now wants them painted. Can anyone help me as to what kind of wood would be best for painting. I want to use a hardwood but I’m not sure what to use. Any help will be greatly appreciated. regards Ed

23 replies so far

View johnstoneb's profile


2914 posts in 2169 days

#1 posted 11-07-2013 06:04 PM

If they are going to be painted. plywood. or mdf

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View carver1942's profile


93 posts in 1700 days

#2 posted 11-07-2013 06:53 PM

Hello Bruce
Thanks for your reply. I’ll be using plywood for the boxes, and a person I talked to at a cabinet dealership said for painted cabinets most of the manufacturers used soft birch for the face frames and MDF for the panels. My concern is I’ve heard that the routed surfaces of the MFD raised panels “fuzz-up” when they are painted. I don’t want to put in a lot of work and not be able to get a smooth paint job. Have you ever had a problem painting MDF?
regards Ed

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2773 days

#3 posted 11-07-2013 07:03 PM

If you are painting – use poplar
Costs less
Has a fine grain that takes paint well
Mills well

Use maple\birch ply on the carcass and varnish this – looks great

-- David in Damascus, MD

View chrisstef's profile


17381 posts in 3002 days

#4 posted 11-07-2013 07:09 PM

Like David said … poplar. You could use maple but if its getting paint, youre probably wasting money, unless you have a cheap source. I think they use the MDF for the panels because its stable and wont move around on you with the changes in humidity. Every now and then I can see when my cabinet doors have moved with the weather.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View carver1942's profile


93 posts in 1700 days

#5 posted 11-07-2013 07:30 PM

Thanks for the replies. Is popular strong enough for face frames and door stiles and rails? I want to use MDF for the panels to save me the work of gluing up wood for the panels. My thickness planer is only 13 inches, and it will be a pain truing up anything wider than that. I don’t have a problem using MDF for panels if it takes paint well.
regards Ed

View carver1942's profile


93 posts in 1700 days

#6 posted 11-07-2013 07:31 PM

BTW, this sure is a great forum. :-)

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2773 days

#7 posted 11-07-2013 07:38 PM

Yup—Worked for me – shellac the panels before you paint them

Used Rustolium oil based white paint

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2846 days

#8 posted 11-07-2013 08:36 PM

In our country—Oregon—alder is inexpensive and eminently paintable. Poplar in my experience tends to fuzz up and the first coat—of whatever—has to be sanded back considerably. That’s easy enough on flat stock like base and casing, but not so much fun on stiles and rails that live at eye level. That said, the yield of poplar is top o’ the heap.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View carver1942's profile


93 posts in 1700 days

#9 posted 11-07-2013 08:59 PM

Fine job you did David. I’ll be a happy guy if mine turn out that good. Thanks for the info.

View carver1942's profile


93 posts in 1700 days

#10 posted 11-07-2013 09:06 PM

Thanks for the info, Lee The fellow at the lumberyard also said poplar fuzzes. I’ll have to do some testing and determine what I’m comfortable with.

View sonnyr's profile


131 posts in 2124 days

#11 posted 11-07-2013 09:12 PM

Is there a different material besides a solid wood or MDF that anyone might suggest for the panels. I’m going to do the same thing with my kitchen cabinets, both doors and drawer fronts. I have been looking at the 3-Pc Shaker Raised Panel Door Set in the Sommerfield Tools catalog for making my doors and drawer fronts. I just can’t decide what would be the best paint grade materials to use.

-- I may be slow, but I'm easy to stop!!!

View Terry Ferguson's profile

Terry Ferguson

203 posts in 2663 days

#12 posted 11-07-2013 09:17 PM

I’m with Lee on the alder – currently using clear grade on a large kitchen island that will be painted.
For the raised panels – glue up adler and machine away.
Poplar is sometimes my choice for painted furniture with a little more sanding.

-- Terry Ferguson, Bend Oregon

View MBD's profile


72 posts in 1881 days

#13 posted 11-07-2013 10:26 PM

Some hardwood mills produce what the call “paint grade maple”. It’s just an unsorted grade of maple, they don’t sort it for color of width. Pricing usually runs just a little bit higher than Poplar.

-- Matt, Mississippi

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2671 days

#14 posted 11-07-2013 10:37 PM

Depends on you location. In my area poplar, soft maple or paint grade maple and white pine are all about the same price. Those are what we normally use for cabinets. I wouldn’t use MDF for panel but that is a personal thing I suppose. I didn’t have real good luck with it taking paint well. Might have been me. I just like wood. Personally I would probably buy the doors because they are cheap in my area. Again that depends on location.

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2508 days

#15 posted 11-07-2013 10:49 PM

I had alder in mind too as Lee mentioned, but make sure you get the knotty alder and not the premium if you’re wanting to save even more dollars, though Alder without paint is a very beautiful wood has a rustic appeal and is very close to the same density as poplar maybe a bit stronger, thing is though you’re most likely going to be making panels via glue ups. If you do a cope and stick raised panel doors, your 13” planer should be just fine. If I remember correctly you can get it in 13/16 and 15/16 thickness.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

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