Aspen Wood for Cabinets

It's soft, it's fuzzy, and it takes finish unevenly. Hmm... August 29, 2006

Question
What are your thoughts on using aspen for cabinet parts? I ran out of maple yesterday and we are a couple days out before our supplier can get us anymore, so I ran over to a box store to see what they had that I could use for a few drawers. I saw the aspen and grabbed a few sticks to see how it would machine. It seems soft, but was clear and free of knots. It held the dovetails nicely and stayed straight. It also sanded well and glued up fine. Has anyone used it for cabinet door frames or face frames? I am curious what experience others have had with this species.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
I used it once for painted cabinets in a bathroom. It is very soft I wouldn't do it again. I went back to poplar and maple.



From Gene Wengert, technical advisor Sawing and Drying Forum:
It is indeed the softest wood we grow in North America. The softness also results in peach fuzz when sanding, especially as the sandpaper gets worn. Fastener strength is quite low, so larger and more fasteners are needed. For low quality cabinets, it is OK.


From contributor B:
It is very soft, nice to mill and work with but for dovetailing it's questionable. It is easier to just go with soft maple or poplar as most use. It's not bad - it is good for some applications - but isn't ideal for most such as drawer boxes, with the applications that I've used it in.


From the original questioner:
How well does it hold a finish like lacquer? I was really surprised at how expensive it was - more than poplar.


From Gene Wengert, technical advisor Sawing and Drying Forum:
It does not absorb uniformly, so a sanding sealer or similar is needed.


From contributor C:
Aspen is softer than basswood or linden? That's a shocker to me! It is pretty wood - I like the whitish color, but for doors and such, in lieu of maple or poplar I'd search for alder. It doesn't look like maple but it's harder than aspen, about like poplar. It looks a lot like cherry and is usually a good bit cheaper than cherry. For drawer boxes I'd just use ash its cheap and pretty.


From Gene Wengert, technical advisor Sawing and Drying Forum:
Aspen hardness is 350 pounds while basswood is 410 pounds.