First, identify the wood
A new cabinet that blends in. Integrating a microwave oven into 30-year-old kitchen cabinetry meant adding a new double-door wall cabinet. I matched the wood and the styleof the original cabinets, then set about matching the finish.
Here in the Midwest, most kitchens I’ve had to match are made of woods native to this region: pine, oak, maple, cherry, and birch. When I’m stumped, I turn to books such as What Wood Is That? by Herbert L. Edlin (Stobart Davies Ltd., 1977) or Identifying Wood by R. Bruce Hoadley (The Taunton Press, 1990). The former book has detailed information about 40 different trees, clues to identifying wood, and even 40 wood samples.
Initially, I thought the kitchen shown above was pine, but when I removed a cabinet door, it seemed heavier. I stripped back a small area of finish and discovered the wood was beech. When I ordered stock to make the new cabinets, I made sure to have extra for staintest samples.
Using raw-wood samples as well as a door from the kitchen can help with the beginning stages of determining the stain color, especially when I have to contend with both heartwood and sapwood. A new cabinet that blends in. Integrating a microwave oven into 30-year-old kitchen cabinetry meant adding a new double-door wall cabinet. I matched the wood and the style of the original cabinets, then set about matching the finish.
I sand the samples with 120-grit paper to remove the mill marks, then take an old cabinet door and some raw-wood samples to my local paint store. I experiment with stains on samples in the store. (It’s a small town.) When it looks like I’m in the tonal ballpark, I buy a couple of stains in that color range, in both pigment and penetrating varieties.
Penetrating stains are dyes with an oil carrier that permeates the wood’s surface. They bring out a color and clarity that can look so natural, the piece often doesn’t look stained. I found that Early American, a Minwax Wood Finish (www.minwax.com), best matched the heartwood.
Pigment stains can be oil- or water-based; they lie on top of the wood’s surface without totally penetrating it. I added black and yellow universal colors (see “Trick of the Trade,” p. 108) to some pigment Wiping Stain by Old Masters (www.oldmastrs.com), and it was a dead ringer for matching most of the lighter beech. I mixed both vigorously and applied them to the backs of several sanded cabinet doors and other beech samples. Overall, I thought the color needed warming up, but I knew I could fix that with lacquer.