Wood Range Hood

The centerpiece of any kitchen can be considered to be the stove. That’s where the action happens, so those who design kitchens tend to make the stove stand out. Along with the stove, we often find some sort of hood, designed to catch the smoke from the hood and either remove it from the kitchen or filter it, returning the air back to the room.

Range hoods are not necessarily required by building code. They are not included in the Universal Building Code, although they may be required by state or local ordinances. Before building a kitchen without one or removing one that is already in existence, it would be a good idea to check with the local code enforcement office, which can provide information about building codes which are specific to that municipality or county. However, even if the building code doesn’t require a range hood, installing one is a good idea. A range hood will capture as much as 90 percent of the smoke off the back burners and 40 percent off the front, helping to keep the home smoke-free.

When building codes do call for a range hood, they don’t generally mention what type of range hood needs to be installed. Traditional hoods are connected to a vent pipe, expelling the air drawn in outside the home. But more recently, filtering hoods that return the air to the room have become more popular. The main reason for this is cost, as there is no need to run the vent out through the wall of the home. However, while these ductless hoods do work, they aren’t as effective as the ducted kind.

Since most kitchen ranges have these hoods installed, it only makes sense that designers would look for ways to make the range hoods more attractive. This has led to the design and manufacture of much fancier metal range hoods, styled after commercial ones, as well as wood range hoods that match the kitchen cabinets.

These wood range hoods are actually range hood covers, as the original metal range hood is left in place, with the wood one covering it. This makes sense, as the metal range hood is much more fireproof than any wood one could possibly be. But the wood one provides an attractive accent to the kitchen. Purchasing such a wood range hood cover can be rather costly, ranging up to as much as $1,500, with the average cost being about $750.

Building a DIY Wood Range Hood

With a price tag of $750 or more, there’s plenty of motivation for making a homemade wood range hood, rather than buying one. Any average woodworker should be able to build this project, assuming they have the right tools. The most important special tools to have for this project aren’t even all that unusual ones to find in a home workshop; they are a compound miter saw and a pocket screw jig. While the range hood can be built without these tools, not having those limits design options and makes it harder to build a durable range hood.

While wood range hoods can take on any shape and style the woodworkers desire, there are three common styles that are used. All of these have the front of the hood sloping back from the bottom edge, but as seen in the diagram below, the one on the left does not have any slope to the sides, while both of the other do, with the one on the right having the most slope, as well as an upper boxed section.

All three of these basic styles can be skinned over in a variety of ways, either to match the kitchen cabinetry or to provide an accent. One common way of accenting is to match the color of the wood range hood to the hardwood flooring. Another, similar option is to match the color of the countertop.

range hood styles
Range hood styles

In any case, the first part of building any wood range hood is building the framework. This is best done in the workshop, rather than the kitchen. However, the metal range hood should be brought out to the workshop too. If it is a new one, be sure to assemble it and in either case, be sure to have a piece of the ductwork, to ensure that sufficient space is left inside the hood for the duct to go through.

It would also be useful to build a temporary “wall” on the workbench, so that the hood can be attached to it for assembly. The idea is to have a vertical surface, perpendicular to the top of the workbench, which will help ensure that the wood range hood is properly assembled. It doesn’t need to be a complete wall, merely a strong vertical surface which parts can be clamped to.

Making the Framework

The framework for the range hood is typically made from 2”x 4’s, although smaller material can be used. In the case of the leftmost form in the diagram above, no compound angles need to be cut. However, the outer corner pieces for both of the other designs will require compound corners. To simplify construction, it is a good idea to make the front and side angles of the hood the same in both of these cases.

Start by building a bottom frame. This will attach directly to the top of the metal range hood, using the mounting hole provided. The main purpose of this bottom frame is two-fold, allowing the wood hood to be attached to the metal one and providing a foundation to the rest of the wood hood.

Keep in mind that the height of this frame is going to be added to the thickness of the metal hood to come up with the height of the fascia board on the bottom of the hood. If a smaller fascia is desired, then it might be necessary to make this framework out of 2”x 2”s, instead of 2”x 4”s.

lower framework
Lower framework

While this framework can be assembled using either nails or screw through one frame member and into another, doing so would require putting the screws or nails into the end grain. A much stronger frame can be made using pocket screws to assemble it. Attach this frame to the top of the metal hood.

The remainder of the framing is going to be built directly onto this base. One of the key things to determine is the angle for the front and sides. This will depend largely upon the space needed for the ductwork, assuming a ducted hood is used. However, in most cases, about 10 degrees seems to work out.

hood framing, front view, side view
Hood framing

The outer corner pieces are the key to this whole frame, as they are the ones which will require a compound miter. Cut those first, then use them to determine the size and angle of all the other parts. Fitting these two pieces in place is another of the reasons why it is a good idea to use pocket screw. While those pocket screws may not be needed for any of the cross-bracing, they will definitely be needed for all four of the corner braces.

The horizontal bracing in the diagram above is not critical; it can be located wherever convenient. However, it is probably not a good idea to forego it, as it will help keep the frame rigid while working on it. The top frame is less important than the bottom one, as its main purpose is to provide a means of attaching the hood to the ceiling.

It is critical that the frame be sturdy enough to be moved, even without being skinned over, as there will be a need to have access to the framework in order to hang the hood. Once it is attached to the wall and ceiling, centered over the stove, the ductwork can be installed and the wiring for the range hood connected. Then the wood range hood will be ready to be skinned over.

Skinning Over the Wood Range Hood

This is the part where the range hood is made to express the woodworker’s preferred style. Some range hoods incorporate carved sections, especially for the fascia. However, most wood range hoods typically follow three basic styles:

skin styles, plain with molding, board and batten, shiplap or beadboard
Skin styles

Plain skins are usually nothing more than ¼” plywood, although drywall can be used if the range hood is going to be painted. Board and batten is a popular style, as it might match the same style used elsewhere in the home. If the range hood is large enough, multiple battens can be used. As an alternative, the main part of the hood can be left plain, while the fascia is done with a board and batten style. Shiplap or beadboard is the hardest, but provides a nice finish.

One important thing that has to be decided, as part of this design decision, is whether the wood range hood is going to be painted or stained and varnished. A wood fascia board at the bottom of a painted wood range hood looks good, especially when the fascia is carved and the rest of the hood is painted to match the cabinets. But that only works with painted cabinets. Stained cabinets need a stained hood, and a stained hood can be used with painted cabinets to stand out even better.

Attach the sides first before the front, as installing the front first can cause problems in getting the side pieces in place. Regardless of the style used, the skin pieces should be glued and nailed with brad nails for security. The brad nails are mainly there to clamp the pieces together, while the wood glue has a chance to cure. As with any other piece of cabinets or furniture, attaching the front after the sides allows the front to hide the end grain of the sides.

In the case of any sort of board covering, like shiplap or beadboard, the hardest part of the installation will be aligning the seams between the boards. It helps considerably if the same angle is used for the front of the range hood and the sides. If the angle is different, it will make either the front or the sides longer, making it difficult to match up the seams. In most cases, this problem can be readily rectified by simply leaving more space between boards on the longer side, allowing some of the tongue from the tongue and groove to show. In the case where there is no tongue and groove, the problem can be rectified by trimming the width of the boards.

The fascia is usually the last part of the hood to be installed, allowing it to hide the edges of the skin and provide a clean, attractive finish. This is the most important part of the hood, visually speaking, because it is the one that is usually the most obvious. Care should be taken to ensure a good fit and finish on these parts.

The fascia must be cut to go from the top edge of the bottom frame all the way down to cover up the metal hood edge. Allowing a little bit of overhang is a good idea to hide the metal hood, but don’t give it too much. Too much exposed wood could provide a surface for grease to stick to, creating a fire hazard.

If a carved look is desired, but the woodworker making the range hood is not a wood carver, the problem can be solved by adding on a decorative wood overlay. These are available in a variety of sizes, styles and types of wood, although most of them are light colored, tight grain wood, like basswood. The overlay can either be stained or left its natural color, providing a contrast with the wood used for the fascia.

Be sure to avoid using the range until the glue has dried fully and the finish has had a chance to dry. Using the range while either the glue or the finish dry could cause cracking which will be hard to repair.

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