I like to go and pick out my lumber. Matching grain and color to the pieces I am envisioning, or envisioning pieces from the lumber I find. It works both ways. For larger quantities and quality lumber I generally use The Hardwood Store in Gibsonville NC. I’ve use them for 27 years and the owner Hil Peeler has always been helpful. He uses National Hardwood Association Grading and FSC certified lumber.
From time to time I get local lumber from trees cut on family farms and yards or downed in hurricanes. There’s blessings and curses in this. You can get some beautiful rare live edge pieces, interesting knots, and colors, but also bugs if it has not been kiln dried and kept inside. I usual have a lot more waste from local trees than useful boards, but the rare beauty can make it all worthwhile.
This is an example of a rare beauty from a friend’s walnut tree that had to be taken down.
When doing big jobs, like kitchen cabinets, that call for plywood, I always look for ¾” wood core formaldehyde free plywood. I mostly use ¾” backs for stability. I have used pre-glued wood edge banding on plywood doors and drawer front edges since 1980.
When using plywood for fronts, I always try to match sheets, and have the grain flow from drawer to drawer and cabinet to cabinet. I had my panel doors made by Arthur Bouldin for years. Panel Doors for my kitchen were made by Odie Kimball. I did not have the set up to make my own.
I also enjoy making my own Knobs. Early in the 80’s and 90’s, when I created cabinets for Naus Haus, we had a standard knob that went with his style.
Over time that style evolved into all different kinds of knobs to go with whatever cabinet image I was looking to achieve. See more about this process in the Cabinet section under Gallery.
Drawers are another part a of the process that I always liked to do myself. I have used a Porter-Cable Omni Jig since the late ‘80’s to create Dovetail drawers with a router. Doing kitchens, you need to be able to do a lot of dovetailed corners without a huge price tag, a jig and router help that process.
When building kitchens, shelving, or library cabinets it is good to have room to spread out. Shifting things around as needed. One reason that I have taken to putting many tools on wheels as I have gotten older. And, tools require constant maintenance.
For finishing I have always used Sutherland Welles Tung Oil. I met the owner, Frank Welles, around 1983. His product was used by James Carnahan on the original Naus Haus design cabinets and a friend of mine, Susanne Saunders, worked with Frank and designed his first label. It is a hand rubbed oil finish. I have used Tung Oil for thirty-seven years and I still prefer their products.
Sutherland Welles has evolved a lot over the years. They now have lots of other products too. And I use many of them. Mary Goderwis (Franks right hand lady) now runs his operation up in Vermont. She is a great lady with a wealth of knowledge for finishing questions.