At William’s Handcrafted, we make intentional choices in the woods we use for custom cabinets and furniture.  We take pride in understanding the nuances of wood selection and recognizing how each species brings unique characteristics to a project.  Walk with us through Virginia forests as we discuss the beauty and advantages of some of Virginias finest hardwoods.

White oak kitchen cabinets

Oak: The Sturdy Classic

The mighty oak comes in two distinct species: Red and White.  Like wines of the same names, red and white oak are two distinctly different species.  White oak is significantly more popular in recent years.  White oak is renowned for it’s strength and durability.  It’s a timeless choice for elegant projects.  White oak is known for its distinctive grain and wheat brown color.  White oak is also a good choice for exterior projects.  It’s unique properties help it withstand moisture, rot and insect decay.

White oak can also have unique finishes.  The open grain of oak allows colors and from stains and glazes to seep into the wood.  Craftsmen can also create texture on the wood by using a wire brush to remove softer wood.



Durability: Resistant to wear and tear, oak ensures longevity.
Versatility: Can be finished with a variety of techniques allowing for a range of design possibilities.


Cherry Side board

Cherry: A warm embrace

There are few more traditional woods in Virginia than cherry.  Cheery is an exceptional choice for those desiring a touch of warmth and sophistication.  It’s deep, reddish-brown hue deepens over time creating a lustrous patina that enhances the allure of any custom cabinet.  Cherry embodies a sense of luxury that is both elegant and timeless.

Cherry has a distinct difference between its red heart wood and its almond-colored sap wood.  For this reason, our craftsmen use care to ensure consistent color throughout a project.



Color Transformation: Develops a richer, darker color with age.
Smooth Finish: Takes to polishing and finishing with a smooth, elegant result.


Walnut gun rack

Walnut: The Epitome of Elegance

If opulence is the goal, walnut wood stands as the epitome of sophistication. The deep, chocolate-brown tones and intricate grain patterns of walnut bring a sense of grandeur to custom cabinetry. Each piece becomes a work of art, a testament to the masterful craftsmanship at William’s Handcrafted.

Walnut is traditionally on the higher end of the price scale.  Walnut lumber is typically narrower and shorter due to the trees it comes from.  In fact, walnut is graded on a more lenient scale compared to other hardwoods.  This results in cabinetmakers buying more material to cut around defects.



Luxurious Appearance: Dark, rich color and striking grain patterns.
Stability: Resists warping, ensuring the longevity of your custom cabinets.

Kitchen island, painted maple with paper towel holder

Maple: Contemporary Simplicity


For those who appreciate a clean, contemporary aesthetic, maple is a popular choice. Its light, creamy color provides a neutral canvas for various finishes, making it a versatile option for modern custom cabinetry. The fine, consistent grain of maple adds a touch of simplicity and sophistication.

Maple is excellent for homeowners who want a light, bright, modern look.  Its consistent color gives a good base for staining.  Most mass-produced cabinets with stained finish will be stained maple.  At William’s Handcrafted, we generally discourage staining maple. Maple is very blotchy and stains often do not look right.  Spray stains do not penetrate the wood and do not provide the depth of color found with wiping stains.

Maple is an ideal choice for painted cabinetry though.  It’s hard, tight grain structure fills well and boards are frequently free of knots color discrepancies.   Poplar is another common species for painting.  However, it’s relatively soft which means grain is more visible when painted and it dents easily.



Versatility: Accepts a variety of finishes, adapting to different design styles.
Hardness: Resists dents and scratches, maintaining a pristine appearance.

Ash: Light and Airy

Ash wood offers a light and airy alternative, perfect for those seeking a sense of openness in their custom cabinetry. With its pale color and straight grain, ash imparts a sense of modernity while maintaining a connection to nature’s inherent beauty.

Ash, like white oak, has an open and pronounced grain structure.  Since ash is less expensive than white oak, it is a good choice when homeowners want an painted finish where you can still see the pronounced grain.  Like white oak, craftsmen can wire brush ash to open the grain and create texture in a project.



Light Appearance: Ideal for creating a bright, open feel in cabinetry.
Shock Resistance: Resists damage, ensuring longevity in high-traffic areas.

Bolivian Rosewood fireplace valence

Bonus: Exotic hardwoods

Exotic hardwoods are generally classified as any non-North American hardwood. One of the most popular is mahogany.  The mahogany family can be found in various regions around the world with different species having unique appearances and characteristics.  Like walnut and cherry, mahogany is a premium choice for projects demanding a sophisticated elegance only found in rich, dark hardwoods.

There are countless other exotic hardwood species.  Other popular woods include zebra wood, rosewood, and ebony.


It’s important to remember that wood selection is a significantly regional choice.  Central Virginia uses a lot of Appalachian hardwoods, the hardwoods primarily found in the Appalachia region.  Cabinetmakers on the West Coast may use spruce, and redwood.  Our friends in the Midwest may use more alder.

Also worth noting, within each species there may be sub species.  Just like there’s white and red oak, there is also hard and soft maple, American and English walnut, Cuban and African mahogany. Further more, lumber species are typically made up of several different distinct tree species.  Soft ample includes silver maple, red maple, and big leaf maple.



At the hands of our skilled craftsmen, each wood species transforms into a masterpiece, a custom cabinet that not only serves a functional purpose but also tells a story of elegance and craftsmanship. As you embark on the journey of creating your bespoke cabinets, consider the nuances of these wood species, each offering a unique blend of aesthetics and practicality. At the intersection of tradition and innovation, our custom cabinetry stands as a testament to the timeless beauty that only the finest wood species from Virginia can provide.


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Richmond, VA

The capital of Virginia, Richmond, is a bustling metropolis and home to 1,260,029 people. The town has a proud architectural history and houses magnificent buildings like the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, built in 1906. Other must-see attractions include the Carpenter Theater, the Virginia State Capitol, and the Egyptian Building at VCU.

We also service nearby areas such as, Charlottesville Midlothian, Tuckahoe, and Goochland