For kitchen cabinets with a slightly rustic look but none of wood's potentially dark or dreary overtones, consider tongue-and-groove cabinets made of white pine. Used extensively for construction and trim work, white pine works well for cabinets. Its light colour creates an airy and pleasant atmosphere in the kitchen. Tongue-and-groove construction gives the cabinets a touch of sophistication.
For traditional tongue-and-groove cabinets, use a router to cut tongue-and-groove edges into a series of narrow white pine panels. Fit the individual panels to cover a surface the area of your desired cabinet door. For a more sophisticated effect, cut the boards at a diagonal or mesh them together in a herringbone pattern. For a less intensive project, simply purchase narrow boards of tongue-and-groove white pine, as are frequently used for flooring. When calculating how many boards will cover your cabinet, be sure to measure each board without counting the width of its extended tongue. Avoid cutting any of the boards down to very narrow dimensions. If you find that you will require slightly more than a certain number of boards, such as five full boards plus 1/2 inch of the sixth board, use four whole boards and cut down two more boards to the necessary widths.
Tongue-and-groove construction can also be used to make handsome white pine "panel doors." These cabinet doors feature a simple flat surface bordered by a slightly thicker frame for an attractive relief effect. To construct these doors, you may either use a single solid board or a series of joined tongue-and-groove boards. In either case, make sure that this inner piece is slightly smaller than the overall desired size of the cabinet door. Cut tongue-and-groove edging around the perimeter of the inner piece and along each of four frame pieces. In addition, make tongue-and-groove joints along the diagonal cuts where the four frame pieces will fit together.
Many homeowners with rustic knotty pine cabinets look for ways to update and brighten their kitchens. Switching from knotty pine to white pine makes a considerable difference and is relatively simple. Use tongue-and-groove construction techniques to build new facings for each of your cabinet doors. As white pine goes well with crisp white, simply paint the knotty pine surfaces between cabinet doors in a pleasing white or cream. While you have the old cabinet doors off their hinges, affix the top layer of white pine. As the joint will bear no further load than the white pine's own weight, you might opt to use simple nails, screws or even wood glue.