Remodeling is my first profession, but my direction is heading towards building custom cabinetry out of my small (spraying room equipped) home shop.
I am preparing to build my first stain-grade kitchen. Having built only painted (pigmented laquer, pigmented cv) cabinets, I am eager to hear any important points regarding wood selection\sourcing.
The project will have shaker flat panel doors built in hard maple. The color is to be a medium-darkness brown\orange. I use Sherwin Williams finishes, and plan on the following finish schedule for these:
-sand to 150
-spray dye stain
-light sand 320 (or should it be scuff with maroon scotchbrite?)
-BAC wiping stain
-1 coat CV
-Scuff grey scotchbrite
-2 coats CV
With the painted cabinets, I used flat sawn soft maple, with the quarter\rift sawn edges as rails and stiles.. the left over flat sawn center of most boards ended up as the panels. Is this as much as is done for clear projects?
Also, I talked with a local wood supplier regarding their hard maple. They make baseball bats, and use the reject logs (not straight enough to split) for hard maple lumber. Is this a good thing, or bad thing given my needs for an aesthetically pleasing product? I would think it may be good as far as how clear the wood is, but possibly bad given that they are rejected due to grain. He said that hard maple is hard maple.. is this true?
I can't speak to your finishing schedule but I would recommend you stick with soft maple. Soft maple is certainly durable enough for cabinet components and much easier to work with then hard maple. Hard maple is harder on tooling and abrasives without any added benefit in this application. I wish I would have asked the same question prior to building my first kitchen out of hard maple. I have since switched to soft and have been much happier throughout the construction process.
Your finishing schedule is fine. We usually wash coat, scuff, first so the stain takes more uniformly. Hard maple often has some wild grain that looks neat to a woodworker (depends on the customer's point of view) but is more prone to chip-out in machining. The heart wood is darker than the sap wood. It will some times have dark mineral streaks that need to be cut around. They are really hard and will damage tooling. My favorite maple is called Red Maple. It is a soft maple but nearly as hard as hard maple and easier to machine, almost never see mineral streaks in it.
I had just assumed that to get high-end results from stained maple, that hard, white maple was the only serious approach. It's starting to seem like soft is preferred. I will look into the "soft-select".
I have not heard anyone's opinion on the fact that the hard maple currently offered to me is milled from baseball bat reject logs..
You don't say if you are buying your doors or planning on making them. From the description of your shop, I would definitely order the doors. There are plenty of good cabinet door suppliers.
I am not sure what "CV" stands for. Does this represent a conversion varnish? I don't use anything but pre-catalyzed lacquer. By far, the best finish for the small shop. Dries fast and easy to repair.
I would only use Hard Maple and I would find out where the mill shops in your area buy their lumber and buy mine from the same source.
Be careful staining maple. It can come out blotchy. Do plenty of samples and keep the approved sample in front of you while you are finishing. If you want a dark stain on Maple, you usually have to stain it twice with a light stain.
Paul, I like making doors. Attached is a photo of the last kitchen I built and finished in my 12'x20' shop. Why should I have someone else make them?
I had been using pre-catalyzed lacquer, but kept reading that conversion varnish is more durable. My last project was finished with it (photo of vanity and mirrors also attached).
I think finding out where other shops get their lumber is a great idea. I will keep that in mind.
As far as blotchy-ness goes, I plan on dealing with that through the lengthy finishing schedule I posted above. I tend to over-worry, and samples will need to be reliable before I even start jointing the lumber.
I have noticed the red maple while building these paint-grade cabinets. It is hard, but not as light as I would prefer. I like the idea of getting hard maple FAS, knowing that it will all come closer to the same color.
I have a 12,000 sq ft shop with almost every tool you can name. But, most times, I still order doors. The cabinet door companies are so automated that you really cannot make money making doors unless you have a large job or not enough work in your shop. My experience is better overall quality and delivery when you want it. The only real negative is that when we make our own doors and there is a stain or solid color, we stain or paint the edge of the inset panel before we assemble the door. This prevents an edge of unfinished wood appearing when the inset panel shrinks.
Additionally, if you are like most people in the construction industry today, labor is a shortage. I was a remodeling contractor when I started my cabinet shop, so I have an idea of where you are now. That was over 30 years ago. For me, I started my shop because I was not happy with my options when I worked with trim carpenters or cabinets shops and it gave us more work when the slow down came.
Do what you want to do, I only commented on this site to help others if I can.
Vince, as far as hardness goes I would estimate that Soft Maple is close to as hard as say Cherry, much harder than Alder so I would not be so concerned about denting from softness, whether it is painted or stained it is an acceptable wood.
Most of the soft maple I use is plenty hard. I use both hard and soft maple, and choose based on which is cheaper where I normally buy wood, and which is white if I'm doing stain grade. In my mind, if soft maple is hard enough for paint grade, then it's hard enough for stain grade.
Except for the conversion varnish, I've used your finishing schedule and it worked really well. I only use WB topcoats so I spray a sealer coat of dewaxed shellac over the BAC Wiping Stain, then my topcoats, or toner first if needed.
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