Not all Red Oak is equal
Red Oak is one of the most popular woods for cabinets. It?_Ts reliable, It?_Ts durable, and It?_Ts beautiful when used for cabinet doors. But, not all of the Red Oaks are equally beautiful.
There are many varieties within the Red Oak families and this discussion is limited to those more commonly used in the manufacture of Cabinets and Cabinet Doors. I've also limited this discussion to those Red Oaks found in the United States and Canada.
Red Oak is divided into three main growing regions, Southern, Appalachian, and Northern. Each of these regions can be further sub-divided based on the color and quality of the Red Oak that grows within the sub-regions.
As a broad overview, Oak from the southern regions has a faster growth rate and tends to have the widest color range of the regions. Oak from the Appalachian region grows slower than the Southern Oaks with a color range somewhat more consistent than the Southern Oaks.
The Northern Oaks are generally considered to be the highest quality. The Northern Oaks have a shorter growing season and therefore have a slower growth rate. The color is much more consistent, but the mill prices are higher than the Appalachian or Southern Oaks.
The best of the best is a sub-group of the Northern Oaks which grows in Michigan?_Ts Upper Peninsula and the parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Red Oaks from this region are commonly referred to as Glacial Northern Red Oak. The growth rings tend to be very tight indicating the very slow growth rate, and the color consistency is exceptional. The color is a Light Wheat Color. This Glacial Red Oak has exceptional color and is what we use for new home Kitchen Cabinet Doors and for Replacement Cabinet Doors
I?_Tve visited many mills in each region and most mills can supply limited quantities of Wheat Colored Red Oak by performing a color sort, but the wide color spectrum of Red Oak from the Appalachian and Southern regions makes color sorting labor intensive.
Red Oak sorts from the Glacial sub-region is easy as the majority of the Oak is naturally Wheat Color, so the pricing tends to reflect the Grading Rules more than the color sort labor constraints.
Cabinet Doors and Drawer Fronts used in higher end housing tend to be made by local Custom Cabinet Shops while cabinets used in more affordable housing is more likely to be ?_oModular Cabinets?__. The Modular Cabinet industry, for the last decade, has been hard pressed to match the costs of Chinese manufacturers and many have either move their operations to China, or just gone out of business.
Those Custom Cabinet Shops that supply custom home builders are expected to supply a product that is noticeably superior to the Modular Cabinets, and part of that ?_osuperior?__ requirement applies to a very uniform and consistent color in the Red Oak Cabinet Doors.
That is why CabinetDoors.Com uses Glacial Northern Red Oak in every one of the Red Oak doors we make.
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We ordered replacement doors for our 60-year-old home and were very pleased with the product. The milling was of the highest quality. The joinery was very well done, and the wood selection was obviously done by a professional who cares what the finished product looks like. It is one thing to assemble a project with technical skill, and another thing entirely to accomplish the assembly with an eye toward bringing the best out of the wood being used. Both aspects were accomplished, and at a very high level! The dimensions were absolutely perfect. Each door was correctly dimensioned to within less than 1/16 of an inch. It was very pleasing to see this attention to detail, especially since I took the time to measure my cabinets twice, making sure I had done my part. I had never worked with white birch before, and when I saw the issues with staining the wood (soft grain with blotchy absorption of the stain) I was a bit worried. I had no problems at all because the wood was of a higher quality white birch that had been properly handled at the mill and sanded to a stain-ready finish. A good sanding sealer was applied, and then the stain. The results were EXCELLENT! All-in-all, we received a great product, great advice and excellent customer service from CabinetDoors.com. We would certainly recommend them to anyone looking for cabinet doors. Nice job, everyone! Michael R.
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