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Lost in the Woods

Cabinetmaker David Ramsay is enamored with wood, and he knows which ones are right for you.

David Ramsay
David Ramsay developed a passion for wood and cabinetmaking at an early age. Today, he is the proprietor of David Ramsay Cabinetmakers in Moorestown, New Jersey. Photography by Benoit Cortet

David Ramsay developed a passion for wood and cabinetmaking at an early age. As a kid, Ramsay CCAS’79 became the neighborhood go-to guy for wooden-window repairs. By junior high, he was building birdhouses and other household items from scratch. He opened his shop, David Ramsay Cabinetmakers in Moorestown, New Jersey, after graduating with a degree in art history and has been creating wooden works of art ever since. Among them is a refurbished version of the old Grille bar, which still makes appearances at the annual Rutgers–Camden Reunion. Ramsay shares some tips on the world of woodworking:

• There is no overall “best” wood—it depends on its application—but the five most commonly used woods are red oak, mahogany, cherry, walnut, and maple.

• Renovating your kitchen? For cabinets, stay away from “junky cuts” such as poplar or knotty pine because soft woods don’t hold up well. Opt for hard white maple when considering a new butcher block or chopping surface.

• Some woods are tougher to find, but the search can be worth it. Chestnut is only available in small quantities now, but its golden-brown color and beauty make it one of Ramsay’s favorites.

• Professionally made cabinetry can be more expensive, but you won’t have to compromise on what you want. Educate yourself on wood and design trends, explore the internet, and meet several cabinetmakers before making any big decisions. And when you do find someone, check references.
— Molly Petrilla

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