Natural Wood Delivers Timeless Beauty

More than 100,000 species of natural wood grace this planet. Like Michelangelo, a gifted woodworker sculpts color, grain, strength, weight and purpose to bring out the best in a building. Where flexibility is called for, bendable oak or elm is a better choice than highly dense mahogany. Exceptionally strong Douglas fir can weather abrasive elements. Cedar makes much better outdoor deck material than beautiful maple, which tends toward natural decay.

Popular Natural Wood Species

Following are samples that show color and texture variations in just some of the natural wood species. In addition, the Minwax website shows a chart of popular wood species, their characteristics and uses. We also like the Wood Database, where you can find additional technical details on wood species.

Natural Wood Species Samples

It was hard to choose among so many lovely options, but here are some of our favorite natural woods. Half of them have photos illustrating real Versatile Wood Products projects. Click a photo to learn more about each project.

Douglas Fir

Natural Wood Species Historic Douglas Fir

This natural wood is from one of the largest evergreen trees in the world. The timbers are very large in dimension and are also of good quality. Most commonly, Douglas fir is used for structural purposes where wear and abrasion are a factor. The wood is exceptionally strong for its weight, and is one of the heaviest softwoods available in North America.

Birch

Birch is fine-grained, medium hard and heavy. Pale in color, it often has a satin-like sheen and sometimes a rippled texture. Birch is also naturally waxy, which makes it resistant to water. It makes high-quality plywood and is valuable for furniture-making.

White Oak

Natural Wood Species Historic Oak

Oak has an especially beautiful grain pattern and is strong, heavy and of medium hardness. Colors range from creamy white and light brown to reddish hues. Oak is equally at home in historic and contemporary settings.

Cherry

The cherry wood specie ranges in color from a tan blond to reddish brown. Despite small mineral flecks and pitch and sapwood pockets its close and uniform-grained surface is satiny smooth. Over time, cherry forms a patina and the color becomes deeper and richer. Cherry can also become lighter in color when exposed to natural sunlight.

Sapele

Natural Wood Species Modern Mahogany Doors

Sapele is a common stand-in for true Mahogany that is highly dense and moderately hard and heavy. When first cut, it ranges from yellow to salmon. As the wood ages, the color deepens to a rich red or brown.

 

Maple

Natural Wood Species Modern Honey Maple Doors

Maple is strong, hard and has a very smooth texture and fine grain. It is naturally resistant to scratches and cracks.  Colors range from creamy white to light reddish brown. Maple is commonly used for flooring, fine woodworking and furniture.

Poplar

Poplar is a favorite choice for paint grade interior projects such as cabinetry face frame. Its combination of economy and workability make it a popular utility wood. It is also used in veneers, where it can be stained or dyed to mimic other species.

Eastern Black Walnut

Natural Wood Species Modern Walnut Cabinetry

Walnut is known for its especially beautiful grain patterns, which range from straight to varied. A stable wood, walnut’s natural color varies from dark brown to purplish black. Sometimes walnut also contains light brown streaks, known as sapwood.

Alder

Alder has a very even wood grain and is very straight. Coloring ranges from light brown to a reddish caramel. Over time, alder turns a shade lighter through sun exposure. It has numerous wormholes and tight, open, and split knots. This makes it ideal for a rustic style home decor.

Modern Outdoor Oasis — Custom Case Study

A glowing oasis of thoughtful, modern design that feels like an organic part of this architecturally-significant Oregon home.

Patrick O’Neill of Greenline Fine Woodworking was called to do a historically sensitive update to one of Pietro Belluschi’s last projects. The project came with a very cool addition: a meditation room. The meditation room was designed collaboratively with Michael McCulloch, a noted Portland architect, the current owner of the home. A Modern Design with Versatile

Modern Design

Project Goals

The intention of the modern design was to create a space that would blur the lines between indoors and out. The effect would be minimizing visual interruptions. This also allows the space to open completely to the exterior as much as possible.

Challenges

Modern Design

Large, sliding full-lite doors can have challenges related to weight, stability and smooth operability. An additional challenge was to figure out how to allow the doors to meet at a corner. With a only a narrow post to camouflage and complete the seal when closed some ingenuity was required.

Modern Design

Uniquely Versatile Solutions

A tricky mitred corner for the track system allowed the two layers of doors to meet seamlessly in the corner. Very tight tolerances were needed to ensure a weather-tight fit when the panels were closed.

The Versatile Product Design team worked closely with the installing contractor. This was important to ensure measurements were accurate and the modern design parameters could be met.

Bringing multiple tracks together in the corners presented alignment challenges for both the upper and lower panel tracks. The low profile sill makes for a near-flush transition to the interior flooring. Metal tracks were inlaid into solid wood sills to create an elegantly integrated system.

The result: a glowing oasis of thoughtful Mid-Century modern design that feels like an organic part of this architecturally-significant Oregon home.

Modern Design

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Open Shelving: Mid-Century Bungalow Kitchen

Versatile brings this Mid-Century bungalow home into the 21st Century all while embracing its iconic look.

Cradled in Northeast Portland’s Concordia neighborhood lies a modest and unassuming Mid-Century bungalow that has recently undergone an extensive remodel. Modernizing the interior of the home while retaining its intended aesthetic. In collaboration with Arciform designers Jeffrey Kelly and Bianca McKelvy, Versatile Wood Products had a unique opportunity to be a part of this transformation.

Mid-Century bungalow

What were the goals of this project?

The main goal of this project was to achieve an updated Mid-Century Modern look. New drawer & door faces on two of the existing cabinet walls. And creating a new, full-height cabinet next to the refrigerator to create extra storage space. Using a combination of paint and stain grade material helped to complete the aesthetic.

What were the challenges?

We faced many of the typical challenges that come with Mid-Century remodels. This project called for custom face frames and continuous horizontal grain for stain-grade lower cabinets. These can be tricky to execute well.

The design for this kitchen also called for three unusually long floating shelves. At nearly five feet per shelf, this presented a challenge.

What were the uniquely Versatile solutions to those challenges?

For the custom face frames, we created a complete overlay, which achieved the intended look. We sourced continuous grain Birch for the lower cabinets, which worked out beautifully. In order to support the 55″ floating shelves, we used hidden steel brackets which were embedded in the shelves themselves. Then concealed behind sheet rock by the installer.

The combination of paint grade upper cabinets, stain grade lower cabinets with beautiful horizontal grain and open shelving helped to bring this Mid-Century bungalow home into the 21st Century all while embracing its iconic look. If your Mid-Century Modern kitchen could use a breath of fresh air, let Versatile Wood Products help you!

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