I'm planning on making some bathroom cabinets and I wanted some
feedback on the wood types that I am thinking of using (Alder,
Hickory, Birch Maple, or Poplar) . I want to use something that is
not too expensive, is readily available, is compatible with pine (I
have a solid wood pine bathroom door), and something that finishes
nicely. I originally thought of using pine. However, based on
feedback from this board I have made the choice to go with a different
type of wood. Lastly, I do plan on staining the cabinets as my pine
door is stained with early american colored stain. I'm not looking to
match to this stain exactly, but rather use a stain that will
compliment the doors.
Kind of a matter of what you like vs. what we like...
I like Alder -- our kitchen is done in alder, our bathrooms, our mantle and
I'm about to make a coffee table out of alder. It's similar to pine but not
exactly like it. I really like the rustic knotty look, but my wife doesn't
(so we went with clear Alder -- she's not SWMBO for nothin'!). Hickory is
the new "in" thing around here lately (was maple, then birch, then alder,
When we were building our house we went to tons of open houses each weekend
(lots of new houses in our area, maybe not where you live, could be tougher)
and it was great to look at the different types of cabinets and different
stains, etc to really narrow down the look we were after.
Good luck, if you have any extra Alder questions I'd be happy to answer
them. I could even take some photos and put them on my website if you'd
|Kind of a matter of what you like vs. what we like...
|I like Alder -- our kitchen is done in alder, our bathrooms, our mantle and
|I'm about to make a coffee table out of alder. It's similar to pine but not
|exactly like it. I really like the rustic knotty look, but my wife doesn't
|(so we went with clear Alder -- she's not SWMBO for nothin'!). Hickory is
|the new "in" thing around here lately (was maple, then birch, then alder,
|When we were building our house we went to tons of open houses each weekend
|(lots of new houses in our area, maybe not where you live, could be tougher)
|and it was great to look at the different types of cabinets and different
|stains, etc to really narrow down the look we were after.
|Good luck, if you have any extra Alder questions I'd be happy to answer
|them. I could even take some photos and put them on my website if you'd
I'd like to see them. I too am embarking on some bath cabinet
building and have been considering Alder. A lot ot the high end
houses around here are advertising Alder, so it's currently the in
thing. There was a brief Hickory phase following the whitewashed Oak
phase which is still seen in some places. Unfortunately, my kitchen
is one of them. That will be a follow on project.
I am concerned about the dent resistance although I guess that might
be a part of the rustic "charm." My house is a pueblo revival ("Santa
Fe") style with lots of Pondersoa Pine ceilings with rough-sawn beams
and brick paver floors everywhere but the living room, so fussy
cabinets are out, although I'm not looking for board and battens with
leather strap hinges either [g].
Good idea on the open houses; we do that a lot too.
I did my kitchen in knotty alder. I re-used the existing cabinets
(lacquered them a forrest green) but built new doors and used Minwax Ipswich
Pine stain. I can post photos if you're interested. I'm not completely
finished as my SO wants the Z plant-ons for that barn door look
If you're going to stain, forget poplar. It's got no interesting grain
and can suffer from a wide colour (color, Keith) variance from brown
through green to white. Mind you, I built a peanut feeder for the blue
jays the other day by turning a shallow bowl out of a chuck of poplar,
grabbing a 1x1 stick of red oak cutoff, slapping some some orange
shellac on them, fastening the bowl to the stick with a #8 screw and
then fastening the stick to the kid's playhouse with a couple of deck
The poplar bowl doesn't look half bad with a cupla coats of orange bug
spit on it... for a bird feeder.
OTOH, I've got a poplar bowl that I experimented on with some dark
walnut watco oil... I'm too embarassed to take it outside to the
firepit, so it remains on the workbench holding crap. U-u-gly!
But I digress.
Oh... I think alder may be the same as it's really poplar, but I've
never used it.
Why not go for pine if you want to match pine? I know some (okay, lots)
of the wrecksters poo-poo it but 'tis a useful wood and can be
attractive in both clear and naughty styles and sure fits your "not too
expensive, is readily available, is compatible with pine " requirement.
Pine. The Other Jummy Wood. Discover it again for the first time.
Yanno, most but not all, furniture that has "cherry finish" or
words to that effect that one sees in a lot of furniture stores
is actually made with poplar wood.
Toss in some sealer, some toner, some glaze, some tinted top coat
and voila -- "cherry finish."
The downside to all these "cherry finish" goods are that a
lot of consumers *expect* real cherry to look the same.
Think thrice, measure twice and cut once.
Sanding is like paying taxes ... everyone has to do it, but it is
I took a finishing class last semester, and my instructor, who has a
painting/refinishing business in town said that "Alder is a poor man's
cherry". Alder is great with just some wood conditioner on it and a coat or
2 of poly. It matches birch ply well for your cabinet cases. The only
drawback I see to alder, is that it's a soft wood, meaning it will dent. If
it does, just put a damp rag on the dent and place a steam iron on the rag
to "raise the grain". And that works great.
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