Why Custom?

Whether its custom home offices, custom media cabinets, custom libraries, or other custom wood furnishings you are interested in, you may find some manufactured furniture in the stores that can meet some of your needs. However, it is more likely that these products may not fit into the space you have and that they meet only some of your functional requirements.

There are some very good furniture manufacturers in the market and for the most part they do a nice job designing and building their products. Their products are designed to optimize what they decide are the most popular requirements, styles, and finishes in order to address as many customers as possible. Then they try to match the customer’s needs to what they have built.

A Cut Above designs and builds its custom cabinetry after developing an understanding of your functional and esthetic needs. Custom designs are created by A Cut Above in consideration of your needs and then the cabinetry is built exactly the way you want it. A Cut Above does not sell mass produced cabinetry and try to adapt it to your needs. Each and every cabinet that A Cut Above delivers is custom built, from scratch, according to your needs. A Cut Above cabinetry is built to your specifications just the way you want it. No compromising what you want, no trade offs.

What are the benefits of choosing custom built-in cabinets?

When you decide to install custom built-in cabinets you maximize the space available. You don’t have to worry about fitting in, re-arranging, or otherwise adapting mass-produced cabinets.

With custom built-ins you are able to choose the style, wood species, stain, finish, and moldings that reflect your personal taste and style.

Custom built-in cabinetry will give you peace of mind. You will know that you are getting the best possible use of the space, that you have met all your needs, and haven’t had to compromise what you want.

You will be getting the best possible value for the money you spend.

Custom built-in bookcases, custom home offices, custom libraries, and custom media centers that are built-in to your home are home improvements. If properly designed and built, a custom built-in can potentially increase the resale value of your home.

Custom Cabinetry Basics

The more you know about custom cabinetry and the choices available to you the better you can define your project. A Cut Above will help you understand what is available, what is possible, and what the economic trade-offs are when working together to perfect the design for your custom cabinetry project. Some clients may not want to become experts on custom woodworking and others may want to know quite a lot. A Cut Above will work with you at the level necessary to meet your needs while not overdoing it.

The following information is provided for those who want to begin to develop or refresh their knowledge of the basics of woodworking.

What is the difference between hardwoods and softwoods? The obvious answer is one is hard and the other is soft. While that is true, hardwood trees are “deciduous” trees, with broad leaves, generally produce a fruit or nut, and go dormant in the winter. Cherry, maple, and oak are examples of hardwood. Softwood trees include cedar, redwood, spruce, and cypress. The wood from softwoods is generally used for structural lumber such as 2X4s and 2X6s.

What are wood species? This term is used to distinguish between the various types of trees. Each species of wood has a unique grain pattern, color, texture, and even scent. Red oak and white oak are both examples of wood species. There are over 600 species of oak!

What is the difference between exotic and domestic woods? Any species that is native to North American is considered to be domestic, while any species that is not native to North America is considered exotic.

What is the difference between solid wood and plywood? Solid wood is natural wood that has not been processed or altered, other than being cut into a board from a whole log. Plywood is made by slicing logs into thin sheets (veneers). These veneer sheets form the layers of plywood. The inside layers can be of any type of wood or man-made product. Plywood with real wood interior layers is said to have a “veneer core.” Examples of man-made cores are Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) and particleboard.

What is Particle Board? A type of manufactured board that is made by gluing wood chips, sawmill shavings, or sawdust together, compressed under heat, and then cut into various sizes to be sold. Particleboard is widely used in mass produced cabinetry because it is inexpensive and fairly stable. Manufacturers generally use it as a plywood core for kitchen cabinets and inexpensive furniture. A Cut Above does not use particleboard in any of its projects.

What is MDF? It stands for medium density fiberboard and is similar to particleboard. Wood fibers are broken down, glued together with a resin, and compressed under heat. Once dried, it is cut into various sizes to be sold. In general, A Cut Above does not use MDF in its projects. However, there are certain applications where a perfectly flat surface is desired for esthetic reasons or for large surfaces where the natural expansion of solid woods may be undesirable. In some applications, plywood with an MDF core may be a better solution than veneer core plywood.

What is Masonite (hardboard)? The term “Masonite” refers to the material invented by George Mason in 1924. Today, there are many plants that manufacture similar products in the generic category hardboard. Hardboard manufacture consists of breaking down wood into its basic fibers then putting the wood back together with the fibers rearranged to form hard panels which have their own set of separate and distinct characteristics. The result is tough, high-density boards that are resistant to impact, water absorption and are very strong.


Finishing custom built-in projects such as custom media cabinets, custom home offices, custom libraries, and custom fireplace mantels is one of the most important aspects of fabrication. After all, the finish is what you see! At A Cut Above we place equal importance to finishing as we do to quality construction and craftsman-like installation.

What is a finish? A finish is a coating that is applied to wood in order to embellish its natural characteristics, protect its surface, and increases its durability.

Why is finishing important? The finish can reduce the accumulation of dirt on the project’s surface and prevent dirt and other contaminates from penetrating the underlying wood. A good finish will help reduce the amount of moisture the project will absorb, can deepen the appearance of the wood, and help retain the wood’s color over time.

There are hundreds of substances available today used in wood finishing. The following are definitions of some of the most common finishing materials and techniques used at A Cut Above. The finishing done by A Cut Above is done by hand. Of course, the finishers use spray guns and other tools. Most manufactured cabinets are sprayed by machines, robotically – but not at A Cut Above. Skilled finishing craftsmen who take much pride in their work will finish your cabinetry by hand.

Stains – Usually darken the wood, but bring out the grain. Stains are available in a variety of colors

Solid tone paints – A paint finish that consists only of one color

Clear top coats – A generic term that refers to a protective coating that does not add color to the wood

Pre-catalyzed Lacquer – A form of a clear topcoat or colored paint wood finish that dries by solvent evaporation and a curing process. It produces a durable finish in any sheen from ultra-matte to high gloss. Properly applied, a lacquer topcoat will help protect the wood from water and dirt and is resistant to some chemicals.

Catalyzed Conversion Varnish – A highly durable finish, resistant to many household chemicals

Urethane Varnish – Is considered a tough, durable finish and is available in a variety of sheens from flat to glossy

Glaze – Used between coats of finish or on sealed raw wood to alter the color, texture, or to create the appearance of age and character to the surface

Antique – To give it the appearance of being older in age by adding texture to the surface of the wood, rubbing through the stain or paint to simulate wear, and distressing the wood to make it look damaged.

Distressed – To alter the wood with rubbed through edges, worm holes, cracks, dents, nicks, wear marks, and other impressions, in order to give the appearance of being damaged or worn.


How much does custom woodwork cost? There are many variables that will affect the final price of a custom cabinetry project. Primarily, there are 4 factors that will have the most effect on the cost of your built-in project. These are:

1. The overall size and scope of the project.

2. The design. For example, in a built-in wall unit will the wall consist of floor to ceiling bookcases or will the project include storage cabinets with doors and have bookcases above?

3. Installation considerations. Is the project located on the first level of your home or will it be a second (or third) floor delivery? Can tools be used within the room in your home or will the cutting need to be done outside or in a garage?

4. Project Features. These will vary for each client depending on his or her specific needs. You can see examples of some of the most popular features A Cut Above delivers here.

Our goal is to ensure that you are happy with the results of our work and the experience of working with A Cut Above. You will be able to make design decisions with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision about materials, finishes, features, and functionality, as well as the cost trade-offs from choosing one over another. If you have a specific budget A Cut Above will work with you to meet your objectives. If a design change results in an increase or decrease in cost, you will be kept informed in writing. No design changes will be assumed and there will be no surprises for you.

Questions? Contact Us today!


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