Which timbers are best for your new kitchen?

Want to know the best timbers for your new kitchen? This month we chatted to our senior site manager Mark about his favourite types of wood and why they are beneficial to use in the kitchen.

Mark was born and raised in Sheffield before he moved to Canada when he was 10 years old. Having worked in construction for most of his life, Mark has experience with timbers from all over the world. Now settled firmly back in Sheffield, we wanted to ask his expert opinion on which timbers he would recommend for the kitchen.

So, over to the expert: 

As senior site manager, we value your wide-ranging experience of working with timber – how did you get into this?

My first ever trade was designing surgical instruments for surgeons, but I like to be busy so I worked weekends building and renovating homes. I built timber framed custom houses, including the structural framing, through to wall finishes and trim, including hardwood flooring, but my true love was for fine woodworking. It was with this passion that I decided to start a cabinet maker apprenticeship.

Having worked in different areas of construction for many years, are you drawn to a favourite area?

I love fine woodworking – cabinetry, restoring antiques and hand cut joinery. It keeps me in touch with how things should be done. I like working with different materials – hardwoods, metals, acrylics – and combining them to make something unique. There is something quite beautiful about creating something that lasts a lifetime and becomes an heirloom.

man stood in front of pile of timber

Which designer-makers do you find particularly inspiring?

It’s funny because my favourite makers have two very opposing styles. Firstly, and I know it’s a bit cliche, but I like Thomas Chippendale for his detail and hand joinery. The pieces he created were so ornate and beautiful. I could talk for hours about how a hand cut dovetail joint is superior to a machine cut one.

Secondly, Gustav Stickley. His designs are plain, simple and clean – so the complete opposite of Chippendale’s designs. But they are equally as beautiful.

With hands-on experience of timbers from around the world, do you have any favourites?

For aesthetics, from Canada and the US I love sugar maple and walnut. Throw in some purple heart and ebony for good measure, and western red cedar for it’s amazing aroma.

As far as English timbers go, I love pippy oak and traditional oak. Oak is just a beautiful material, and has such a strong composition. It also has such a historical strength, so whenever I’m working with it I feel like I’m working with history.

In your opinion, which timbers would you recommend for use in the kitchen?

Wood is a great material for any kitchen, it’s extremely durable and lends a true warmth to any home. 

I love maple. It’s a solid timber choice for cabinet doors due to its longevity and its natural form is beautiful. Sycamore is another lovely timber – it is often seen as a weed in the UK, but the timber is beautiful and hard to distinguish from maple.

Also traditional thing to use for worktopsCherry is also a great choice as it is smooth and looks gorgeous when finished with a lacquer.

As far as carcasses are concerned, it’s better to go with a sustainable man-made material like our eco-board for the body. This means that they won’t warp over time like other timbers do.

I am also a fan of the reclaimed iroko and oak we use. I love seeing them transformed into something beautiful again. Iroko is perfect for worktops and any little details in the kitchen. The chocolate colour is fantastic and can look really stunning in most spaces. Then oak for any shelves or open units, as it’s one of the most solid and stable timbers there is.

reclaimed iroko timber worktop in bespoke blue kitchen
A Sheffield Sustainable Kitchen that features reclaimed iroko worktops and shelving.

What are the environmental benefits of choosing wood for a kitchen?

Choosing timbers for your kitchen can often be one of the best options if you’re looking for something environmentally friendly. To start with, timber is a natural material, so is much less hazardous when being manufactured. Other kitchen materials require a lot of glue and chemicals in the manufacturing processes, which ultimately will have an effect on the environment if not disposed of correctly.

Our reclaimed wood is also hugely sustainable. Finding ways to breathe new life into old timbers is a fantastic way to reduce the amount of trees we are cutting down. But, timber sourced sustainably, such as our FSC and PEFC certified timbers, ensure that forests will continue to thrive for future generations.

What would be top of your wish-list for your dream kitchen?

I’d love to have a combination of natural stone and wood – I think that looks beautiful. Then a recycled work surface of some kind, recycled glass or recycled plastic – any material that can be given a new life in a new form. A boiling water tap is a necessity as well.

I’d want a combination of modern lighting and traditional timber, and stainless steel too depending on the location. My dream home is a log cabin by a lake in the mountains, so my dream kitchen would have to be a natural one to reflect the surroundings.

We hope that our chat with Mark has been useful in helping you scope out the best timber for your kitchen.

Are you thinking about getting a timber worktop or wooden work surface in your new kitchen? Read our post for 6 reasons why our clients choose a wooden worktop for their new kitchen.

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