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Walnut cabinets are as beautiful as they are rare

by Susanne Clemenz

American walnut, black walnut, eastern walnut and Canadian walnut describe trees that grow 100 to 150 feet tall in Midwestern and Eastern states of the U.S. Walnut wood grain is predominantly straight, but also curls and waves more than any other species. Walnut's sapwood is a creamy color; its heartwood is browner, and sometimes appears slightly purple. Finished walnut, whether stained or oiled, grows more lustrous with age. It is truly an exquisite wood.

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Availability of walnut cabinets

Web searches for brand-name walnut cabinets can be frustrating. Schrocks of Walnut Creek is an Ohio-based company that has showrooms in ten states. Also ask your architect, kitchen designer or general contractor for reliable custom cabinet shops in your area.

Balancing the quality and cost of walnut cabinets

You don't want to skimp on details, when it comes to custom cabinets. But, you can get top-quality without ordering solid walnut. Ask your cabinet maker about:

  • Cabinet cases: Your new cabinetry will be just as strong and long-lasting, if only the visible parts are made of walnut. Invisible backs and structures can be made of maple or other sturdy hardwoods, or even top quality plywood. Use solid walnut for doors or door frames, visible cabinet ends and face frames.

  • Veneers: Walnut burl, veneer panels inset into the door frames look stunning. Also consider using walnut veneer on visible, cabinet-end panels.

  • Construction techniques: You will likely want to get dove-tailed joints on drawers.

  • Hardware: Get the best suspension systems you can afford, especially for heavy drawers. Test door handles and pulls against the finished cabinets--you may like a less expensive style best.

When weighing your options for custom kitchen cabinets, remember that walnut cabinets aren't just storage. They're heirlooms.


About the Author

Suzanne Clemenz designed her passive solar home and interacted with the contractors every day of the 6-month project. She started drawing floor plans and making models in the early '70s after purchasing several building lots. Recently she expanded and

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