Wood species is a scientific delineation based on characteristics inherent in the tree. While wood species identify and group types of trees, the names are used by woodworkers as a common way of referencing the various properties inherent in each species. There is an incredibly large number of species in the world, but there are only a small number of woods that are considered appropriate for cabinet construction. Remember that the internal frame and box of most cabinets are made from manufactured wood, which does not adhere to the properties of any one species because it includes a bonding agent that alters the compositional wood’s properties.
The wood species that are most frequently used for cabinets are Douglas Fir, Mahogany, Western Hemlock, Eastern Knotty Pine, Poplar, Maple, Red Oak, Cherry, Knotty Alder. These are not nearly all of the woods available, but they represent some of the most common used in today’s styles. Each wood has unique properties, but it is their aesthetic characteristics that are usually most influential in determining which one to select for one’s kitchen cabinets.
Poplar is a stiff, strong wood with a tight, uniform grain pattern and a smooth surface. Characteristics include grain streaking, pin knots, and caramelizing. The smooth, even surface of poplar makes it the wood of choice for many cabinet makers to use for there paint grade projects.