solid hardwood cabinets in maple finish

Characteristics of Solid Wood Cabinets

Cherry, maple, birch, oak and other hardwoods are products of nature. How lumber from a specific species and tree will look and feel is affected by climate, soil nutrients, growing season, season of harvest and age at harvest. Every piece of wood – even from the same tree – will carry a slightly different color, texture and grain. The natural variations and imperfections add to the wood’s appeal and character.

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Constructing Wood Cabinets

CliqStudios cabinetry is constructed from solid hardwood components using construction methods that ensure long life and minimal shrinking and cracking.

diagram of cross cut of tree trunk with labels bark , sapwood and heartwood

Heartwood and Sapwood

Trees contain two types of wood: heartwood and sapwood. Heartwood is the older growth found at the core of the tree, and sapwood is newer growth found in the outer perimeter. Heartwood tends to be darker and transitions to a lighter color as it moves toward the outer sapwood. When building cabinets, we use a blend of heartwood and sapwood to showcase the unique beauty of the species and prevent the finished cabinetry from looking artificial or monochromatic.

Wood Finished Cabinet Doors and Drawer Fronts

Cabinet door frames and inset-panel drawer front frames consist of solid wood stiles and rails. Wood finished raised-panel door and drawer center panels are made of several individual solid hardwood pieces known as staves, which vary in width. Staves are glued and planked together to create a panel that is 3/4″ thick. This panel is then machined and profiled into the door style of your choice. Wood finished flat door and drawer front inserts are hardwood veneer on medium-density fiberboard (MDF), a material that resists splitting and shrinkage.

maple cabinet door with labels rail stile and center panel consisting of staves
section of cherry cabinet door with arrows showing planking


Planking is used when large pieces of solid wood, called staves, are required in the construction of door center panels and some specialty cabinets.


Joints refer to the areas of cabinetry where vertical and horizontal solid hardwood pieces (rails and stiles) come together to form corners. utilizes two sturdy joints to secure cabinet door frames. Dowel joints use two small, round wooden dowels and glue. Pocket-hole joints involve drilling a hole at an angle through one frame piece and guiding a screw through the hole to secure the two pieces together. We use two additional joints in the construction of cabinet doors. These joints are described below.

closeup of maple cabinet door showing mortise and tenon joint
closeup of raised-panel maple cabinet door showing miter joint
corner of shaker white painted cabinet door with arrow pointing to joint line

Mortise and Tenon Joint

In its most basic form, this joint is comprised of a tenon formed on the end of the rail that is inserted into the mortise hole on the stile. The seam of this joint runs vertically between the two pieces of wood.

Miter Joint

A miter joint is made by cutting two pieces of wood at a 45° angle and securing them together to form a 90° angle. The seam of a miter joint runs diagonally through the door frame, which is ideal for door styles with detail.

Joint Lines

Wood is in a constant state of expansion and contraction. This normal movement will cause hairline cracks in the finish surface to form at the joints on cabinet doors and face frames. Joint lines are more visible in painted finishes.

end of cabinet shows difference in color and grain of end grain and plank

End Grain

End grain is exposed when wood is cut perpendicular to the direction of the grain. It is softer in composition than other areas of the wood and often appears darker because it absorbs more stain. This color variation is natural and cannot be prevented. End grain is present on mortis and tenon joints and is hidden on miter joints.

Mineral Streaks

Mineral deposits form in many wood types as the trees extract nutrients from the soil. Mineral deposits appear as brown or blackish-blue streaks in the grain. Depending on the applied finish, mineral streaks may appear lighter or darker than other areas of the wood.

Mineral streaks are a natural part of the hardwood used in Cliq Cabinetry and may appear on the front of your cabinet doors, as well as the back where their size may be more prominent. Hardwood is a valuable resource, and we do our best to maximize our use of it, including the parts with mineral streaks, in order to minimize waste.

closeup of maple wood showing mineral streak
closeup of cherry cabinet wood showing pin knots and sap pockets
closeup of maple with insect marks in wood
closeup of cabinet door showing color changing with age

Pin Knots and Sap Pockets

Pin knots and sap pockets are a natural part of hardwood. They are created when small branches die or are broken off, leaving behind a small area that is filled by the decaying branch, which becomes darker than the sapwood that surrounds it. These marks do not compromise the quality of the wood.

Insect Marks

As trees grow in nature, they are subject to the effects of creatures that call the forest home. Insects can bore into the tree and leave small marks and tracks in the wood. These markings may appear similar to mineral streaks but are generally smaller and much lighter in color.


All wood types, particularly cherry, will mellow, darken or change color as they age. Even with our multi-step finish process, which uses a heat-cured, catalyzed topcoat varnish with UV inhibitors, the colors will be affected by the environment. Paint finishes also change over time, especially their sheen. Smoke, moisture and heavy use of cooking oils with a lack of ventilation will rapidly affect all types of finish.

Solid Cherry, Birch, Oak and Maple Wood Cabinets

For information on individual wood species, see the following:

Preserving the Beauty of Wood Cabinets

CliqStudios uses a multi-step factory finish process to ensure our wood cabinetry will survive the test of time, even when exposed to the chemicals, heat and humidity found in a typical kitchen. If you have questions about our cabinets, or would like to begin a free kitchen design (no obligation) call our studio at 888-350-1242.