I know, that was a lot of exclamation points, but I do get excited about this stuff.
Right now, I have a handsome stack of walnut boards on my kitchen table. They're the unfinished boards on the left.
In case you can't tell from the photo, the boards have a deep violet-brown color that reminds me of chocolate. My wife joked that she wants to chew on them.
The boards on the right are spalted ambrosia maple with a gloss finish, which is what my tabletop is made of. Normally the maple steals the show, but this walnut stands up to it.
Notice how the walnut has a straight grain pattern, while the spalted maple has an arched "cathedral" pattern. (Don't let the spalted pattern fool you... it's the result of a fungus and doesn't follow the grain.)
I searched out a special variety of very straight walnut, because these boards are destined for a tall cabinet door.
This is actually our first draft... the top pair of cabinet doors in the illustration are about four feet tall, but the real doors will be about six feet tall. That's a rather long stretch for a cabinet door, and I am concerned that the wood would warp if we used the standard boards which you can get from the hardware store.
This is particularly important because the cabinet has a fireplace on one side and big glass doors overlooking the French Broad River on the other side. It will be subject to a lot of changes in temperature and humidity, which are perfect conditions for warping.
I also considered "sapele" wood, which is a more sustainable cousin of mahogany and very beautiful. The wood is fairly stable, and it has a wonderful red color with lots of pattern in the grain. Here it is on an "mbira" musical intrument (via Wikipedia).
In the end, we went with the walnut for its restrained violet-brown color and superior stability.
Dark wooden furniture is coming back in style, and it makes a nice contrast against the white walls that are so common in modern homes. If you'd like a custom cabinet with beautiful wood like this, give us a call.
I'm Arthur Teel, a craftsman who builds custom furniture in Asheville, North Carolina. Give me a call to talk about your next project!