Close this search box.

How to Decide Between Plain Sawn and Rift Sawn White Oak Kitchen Cabinets

Share this post:

Oak cabinets are a timeless and trusted material for your kitchen. Within this already stunning wood, there exists a distinctive cut that elevates the look of oak whole new level – rift cut white oak. What are the benefits of rift cut white oak? This unique cut has a distinct, even grain pattern and contemporary appearance.

In this blog post, we will talk about why rift sawn white oak is a modern choice for your kitchen and how to distinguish it from standard honey oak cabinets (plain sawn). Read to the end, we’ll provide some design ideas for your kitchen.

What are rift sawn white oak cabinets?

Like plain sawn, rift oak is a hard, heavy, strong, and durable wood. (It is made from the same family of tree after all). White rift cut oak has heartwood that is a light to medium brown with an olive cast. Sapwood for rift oak is white to light brown and is not always sharply discernable from the heartwood.

Oak wood can be cut in a few ways. We are most familiar with plain sawn oak (usually cut from red oak trees). The term rift cut refers to boards cut from timber with the grains intersecting the face of the board at an approximate 60-degree angle. This cut produces boards where the grain pattern is tight and consistent and where the stability of each plank is greatest.

5-Panel Door Front Rift Sawn White Oak (Side View)

Like other wood species, it can be made into both flat doors and raised panel fronts.

How to distinguish rift sawn oak cabinets from plain sawn oak cabinets?

Want to know the difference between plain sawn and rift sawn oak – and how they will look on your kitchen cabinets? Let’s explain the visual differences.

Both rift and plain sawn oak has open pores visible. This is one of the trademarks of oak wood cabinets.

white rift oak cabinet front
Flat Rift Sawn White Oak Door Front (Side View)

Rift cut oak will have that same straight or mildly curved uniform grain on the top and bottom and will also have nice parallel grain on the two edges.

Rift Sawn Oak (Left) Vs Plain Sawn Oak (Right)

Plain sawn oak will have variation in the grain pattern, with curves and waves dispersed over the cabinet front. Both are beautiful, but suited for different design styles. We have another post if you are looking to modernize traditional or outdated oak cabinets.

Using rift sawn white oak cabinets in kitchen design

Rift cut oak will provide more consistent grain patterns throughout the project design. This consistency is aligned with contemporary or modern styles, which focuses on clean lines and simplicity. Incorporating wood into the design brings natural beauty into the space, without looking too traditional or rustic (which is better suited for plain sawn oak). There is a way to bring an organic feel to a space with wood, no matter the design style. It\’s all about application.

Oak can be stained a variety of colours, from natural stain to darker woods and even coastal shades. You can view available rift sawn white oak cabinet door finishes from Decor here, including our newly released stain colours: Terrace and Eclipse.

Design ideas for rift sawn white oak cabinets

It may be daunting to try and design your own kitchen, but here are some of our expert tips to get you started.

rift sawn oak kitchen

Rift sawn white oak cabinets for a contemporary kitchen

Using rift sawn oak with a warm stain creates an inviting contemporary space. Adding wood in varying amounts keeps he space balanced and not overwhelmed with wood. Use wood base cabinets, panel accents, or pillars to add interest, without taking over the entire space. This design incorporates white cabinets combined with oak to keep the room feeling bright and organic.

Visual interest with a rift sawn white oak island

This island, with 5 piece drawer fronts adds an organic texture to this otherwise contemporary neutral kitchen. Beautifully complementing the flat panel kitchen cabinets, the island rift sawn white oak cabinetry suits the space, while adding a touch of wood to the design. Matching the colour and hardware to the kitchen cabinets keeps the island looking cohesive with the rest of the space.


To wrap up our comparison between rift sawn oak and plain sawn oak: rift sawn oak boasts a refined, straight grain pattern, ideal for modern and contemporary spaces and plain sawn oak exhibits a more diverse grain pattern, appealing to those seeking a traditional look.

Ultimately, the decision between rift sawn white oak and plain sawn oak depends on the homeowners preference. Both options offer unique qualities that provide organic elements to design. Whether you prioritize the elegance of uniformity or prefer the charm of natural grain variations, both oak varieties have their place, enabling you to bring your dream kitchen into reality.

Ready for your dream oak kitchen?

If you are ready for white oak cabinets in your kitchen design, Decor cabinets are a great choice. Explore the different stain options or find a dealer near you to get started.

Discover Your Dream Kitchen With Decor

Discover Your Dream Kitchen With Decor

Leave a Comment

You may also like

Know More About the Author

Get The Latest Updates


Be the first to know about new trends and get advice straight to your inbox.

Popular Posts

Scroll to Top

Download the


It’s time for your project to go beyond the daydream. Start planning with the Imagine Brochure!