Homes Photo Credit: Janis Nicolay

The Glossary: What is a Rift-Cut Cabinet?

If you’re redesigning your kitchen, you’ll want to know this term.

First off, what is a rift cut?

Essentially, a rift cut is when you make saw cuts into a tree log radially. A rift-cut plank of wood is cut into the rings of a tree at 90 degrees to the diameter of a tree. This creates slim, tight grain lines from the tree rings, comme ça:

rift-cut-diagram1

Designer Denise Ashmore recently included rift-cut cabinets and woodwork in her Vancouver home, something she deliberately chose over the traditional flat cut.

“Flat cut wood is much busier and more rustic looking than the fine grain pattern of rift and quartered veneers,” explains Ashmore. She wanted her contemporary kitchen to feel warm, but not rustic, so the rift cut walnut appealed with its sparse knots and relatively straight grain—something she said accentuates the clean lines in cabinets.

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Check out that gorgeously slim striation! Rift-cut walnut makes up the cabinets, the wall and the kitchen island. (Photo: Janis Nicolay.)

“We are seeing much more of this cut of wood in contemporary design,” says Ashmore. Walnut specifically, as seen in this kitchen, has a soft grain pattern and smooth surface. Warning: Ashmore says its increased popularity has depleted supplies and prices are going up—but you can rift cut any variety of wood. “Oak and ash are also good choices for contemporary interiors,” shares the Vancouver designer. Walnut and oak are very consistent in their colour, says Ashmore, making them a popular choice.

(Photo: Janis Nicolay.)
(Photo: Janis Nicolay.)

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