1940 era kitchen


  #1  
Old 06-06-07, 12:14 PM
W
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 6
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
1940 era kitchen

Hi all, I have a question about my kitchen cabinets. They have been painted, who knows how many times, but I am looking to strip them. They are original to the house which was built in 1943. My question is, does anyone have any idea what kind of wood was popular for cabinets back then? I hate to strip them down, only to decide to paint them again. Any insight on this would be helpful!

Thanks in advance!
 
  #2  
Old 06-06-07, 05:24 PM
J
Member
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Wilmington
Posts: 4,214
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Depends on the price of the house when new. If custom, or in an upscale neighborhood, could be nice wood. But they were usually pine, possibly clear pine or fir. They are definitely not state of the art, but utilitarian. New cabinets would provide better storage and usefulness. Start on an inside out of the way corner and see what is under all that paint, first.
 
  #3  
Old 06-06-07, 06:50 PM
J
Member
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 202
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Kitchens were made for utility then. People that could afford fancy cabinets put up useful cabinets and hired a cook with the leftover money. Paint was the finish of choice. If you want to dress up the place consider replacing the doors and drawer fronts. Period appropriate styles are commonly available in paint grade at the big box stores.
 
  #4  
Old 06-06-07, 07:53 PM
T
Member
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: USA
Posts: 15,815
Upvotes: 0
Received 1 Upvote on 1 Post
It wasn't until the 40s that actual built-in cabinets became popular. After the war white metal cabinets became popular when metal was more readily available and not required for war use. Those that preferred wood either made them themselves, bartered, or, if properous/wealthy hired a cabinet maker. Wood species may have been what was readily available at the local mills in the area. Many of the painted 1940's cabinets were pine. Shaker style doors were popular--the recessed panel flat doors. Flat slabs of plywood began to appear in the 1940s. Cabinets were either varnished or painted with enamel in shades of off-white to beige. White was very popular because it was considered "sanitary."

Sometimes the interior trim in the home can be a guide to what wood lies beneath the paint on cabinets. It could be oak. Oak is a common wood species and has been popular for interior wood furnishings for decades, and it has been considered the 'default' species for many decades even through today. If shopping for a kitchen today, you will find that oak, and the recessed panel doors are the most affordable.

Often, built-in cabinetry of the '40s copied the style of Hoosier & Sellers stand-alone cabinets with the enameled top, flour bin, bread box, or other interior features, using oak or birch or a mixture of woods if painted. Panited cabinetry often concealed a mixture of available wood species.

Free-standing cabinets were still popular in the '40s and '50s. My mom finally divested herself of her white painted '40s birch, free-standing cabinet with enameled top with flour sifter that could hold 50# of flour in 1993, when my parents finally decided they were too old to maintain the farm and haul water and trot to the outhouse. Now, I wish I'd hung onto that little painted retro beauty.

I once had someone tell me they stripped the paint from a 1940s kitchen and discovered mahogany. Again, as indicated, wealth and available wood species in specific areas can be factors. Available wood species in the western states would likely be far different from the eastern, northern, or southern states. Too, different wood species from face frames and doors could have been used for drawer boxes, as they are today. Too, the wood species on cabinet doors and frames often varied from what is used on the cabinet boxes as today. Today you may find particleboard boxes and solid 3/4" wood species on doors and face fronts and a drawer box of some composite with vinyl wrap or a solid wood drawer box like sycamore, birch, or other.

Actually, framed panel doors allow for a "floating" door that will not warp during humidity changes in the home. Thus, the desire for framed doors. A solid slab of wood tends to warp. Thus, today's cabinet box construction favors plywood, which is more dimensionally stable over solid wood boxes and more desirable than particleboard. Actually, the furniture grade particleboard is stronger on the vertical than solid wood. Many tend to associate the word 'particleboard' with the old, crumbly, swollen particleboard of the passe subfloors, and furniture grade is not the same product as the old particleboard subfloors.

What species or combination of wood species you have under the paint awaits you. All you have to do is strip the paint. At least it would give you peace of mind to know what's under there, even if you have to remove the paint. Too, there may be several layers of paint. Getting down to bare wood, sanding, priming, and painting would likely give you a better painted finish if wanting to retain the retro cabinetry.
 
  #5  
Old 06-07-07, 12:52 PM
W
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 6
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Thanks so much for the replies! I will have to just take the adventure and strip them. Some of the other trim in the house, i.e. door jambs and my laundry shoot are an almost red tinted looking wood that is very soft. Not sure what species that would be and as the house was built by an individual, I'm not really sure what he could have afforded and forgot to ask his son when I met him. I am looking forward to finding out though. Thanks so much for the time to reply!
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: