When most people think of oak cabinetry, the vision of their grandmother’s red oak kitchen cabinets come to mind. It’s durability, workability and availability made it one of the most popular wood choices in the U.S. for furniture and cabinets for many years. Think Amish-style furniture, Frank Lloyd Wright and traditional, mission-style furniture.
As for cabinetry trends, we saw a shift away from oak beginning in the early 90s, as cherry, maple and knotty alder became more popular. However, we’ve seen a resurgence of the old favorite in recent years as oak has a more fashionable feel.
WHITE OAK VS. RED OAK
With over 60 varieties, oak is one of the most widely available wood choices. The most common of which are white oak and red oak. In contrast to years past, white oak, rather than red oak, is all the rage. Both can vary depending on the age and species of the wood, but typically white oak is warmer with a golden brown tone while red oak has a more pinkish tint.
Each are beautiful cuts of wood, but how you slice them can make a big difference in the look and feel of your space.
IT'S ALL IN THE CUT
The pattern of the cut as well as the angle of the saw cutting the log determines how the grain appears on your cabinets. At Sullivan’s, we typically use three different cuts of oak: plain sliced, quarter sawn and rift cut.
Plain sliced or flat sawn is the most common method of sawing and consists of a series of cuts that run parallel to the trunk. This method yields the most wood and very little wasted material. The grain pattern on plain sliced oak makes a “cathedral window” or flame-like peaks in the grain.
RED OAK - PLAIN SLICED
WHITE OAK - PLAIN SLICED
* The image on the right is considered "Rustic White Oak" since the knots are left exposed.
Quarter Sawn wood is cut so that the rings are as vertical as possible which makes for straight grains along with quarter sawn wood's distinct feature - flecking. Flecking is a distinct, striped-like effect caused by medullary rays or capillary structures found in the wood.
WHITE OAK - QUARTER SAWN
Rift Cut wood has a straight grain appearance as it is milled perpendicular to a log's growth rings making a linear grain pattern. Although similar in method to quarter sawn, this cut does
not contain flecking.
WHITE OAK - RIFT CUT
Below are examples of Rift Cut White Oak from some of our recent projects.
From the examples above, you can see the versatility of oak and how your choice of stain/finish will affect your final product.
Got a project coming up and you're wanting to use oak? Let us help you find the best fit for your project and also your budget!