What is the best wood to use for home cabinets?

Have you visited every furniture shop in your area and still can’t seem to find the perfect cabinet for your home? Perhaps you should consider making your own, then.

Making simple furniture such as cabinets is surprisingly easy – a couple of tools, a good schematic (on paper or in your head) and a lot of patience, and you’re set. Of course, let’s not forget the actual material you’ll use for the cabinet – wood is by far the simplest and most durable choice from all the materials you could use, but it pays to know the different types and how they stack up against one another.

The most important distinction to make is probably between soft and hard wood, a.k.a. softwood and hardwood. Much could be said about both, but for these purposes, let’s just say that the former is cheaper and easier to work with while the latter is more expensive and harder to alter but also produces better-quality furniture.

Here’s an overview of some good choices of specific types of wood for home cabinets.

  • Pine: Plenty of journeyman woodworkers swear by pine and stick to it no matter the type of project they’re working on. While this can be limiting, it still shows how versatile and ubiquitous pine is – if you’re making a plain old cabinet that won’t see a lot of punishment, pine is definitely a worthy consideration to make. Sadly, since pine is softwood (and not a very expensive one at that), it’s quite prone to damage in the form of dents, scratches and similar issues, so be mindful of the location for your pine cabinet.
  • Cedar: Even softer than pine, cedar is another favorite of low-cost woodworkers not wanting to put too much effort into the creation of formidable furniture. For its part, cedar is a decent alternative to pine: it’s widely available, not very expensive and very forgiving when pitted against moisture. Another reason why people get cedar furniture indoors is the smell of the wood: if your furniture-making process lets cedar retain some of its pleasant aroma, the cabinet will not only look good but also sport a fresh scent.
  • Ash: If you’re not afraid of working with hardwood, ash is as good of a choice as any – it comes in various patterns and colors and features great durability against dents as well as stains. It’s a good bit more expensive than the softwood varieties mentioned above, although your pockets might not take a big hit if you’re making a single cabinet. Also, ash isn’t always readily available – if you can’t get the lumber locally, you might have to settle down for another hardwood variety.
  • Oak: In a sense, oak is like the hardwood version of pine: widespread, affordable and a favorite choice of many. Oak wood comes in white and red editions – while each of them can sport a variety of nice patterns, white oak is generally thought to be more attractive and is also cherished for its durability against moisture. Keep in mind, though, that oak is significantly harder to work with than softer wood and is therefore best left to the experienced DIY woodworker.