By your question I am assuming that you are looking at 'handmade' or
'bespoke' kitchens. The frame (stile and rail) of the door is usually
made of solid wood and many cabinet makers (including Norm from the New
Yankee Workshop) use veneered panels for the centre of the doors.
Veneered Ply or MDF is more structurally stable than solid wood, but
IMHO can never be a true replacement for solid timber.
If the doors are butt hung then they use butt hinges (ie the type you
get in household doors) and have a more traditional appearance to the
MFI type method which use Euro hinges and doors are set on the outside
of the carcase. This is a matter of aesthetics of what you prefer.
There are many companies, as eluded to already, who claim to do
handmade or bespoke kitchens, but who in reality are merely buying in
componens from companies with CNC machines. While the quality is often
excellent in these products, I do fee they have a cheek saying they are
handmade and charging the prices they do.
The cabinet chose is most critical. MFI and the likes use Laminated
chipboard. Some people use veneered MDF, others Ply and others build in
solid wood. Whilst I will sometimes build in solid wood, I usually use
marine grade ply for this purpose as this give the desired strength and
stability to last a very long time and put up with any future
dishwasher/washing machine leaks.
I personally make drawers using dovetail joints, but this is not
necessary and you shouldn't be put off a kitchen just because it doesnt
use this method. It is time consuming, very strong and very aesthetic,
but there are many other jointing methods that give more than enough
strength and are much quicker to produce.
Finally runner chose is also important. These can take some abuse in a
kitchen. Its worth looking at the runners on your chosen kitchen to
assess whether they look substantial enough.
Hoping all this helps
Calum Sabey (Newark Traditional Kitchens 01556 690544)