Furniture Making Tutorials #1: Solid Bookmatched Panels - A how to.

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Blog entry by BigRedKnothead posted 11-26-2013 04:22 AM 1283 reads 5 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Furniture Making Tutorials series Part 2: Solid Wood Drawer slide process »

Solid bookmatched panels.

They seem simple, but there are techniques to getting great looking panels. On a piece like this blanket chest I working on, I start with the panels. They get the choice cuts, and I want to have some flexibility on the project dimensions depending on how the panels are turning out.

With QS material, I like to find medullary rays like this. For something like knotty alder, I would strategically place the knots…etc.

When cut and bookmatched QS can have this great arched look:

So cut some nicely figure boards to length. Leave them over-sized. You’ll want some play. With a lot of panels (12 on this chest), I made one extra. Never fails when you resaw and plane…you’ll have some nasty defect or ridiculous tearout.
With the boards cut to length, I like to rip a kerf top and bottom. (couple passes raising the blade each time)

This makes it easier on my wussy 1HP bandsaw. Keeps the blade from straying as well.

Now, don’t get your pairs mixed up, but move on to the planer. You can be aggressive planing off the ugly bandsaw blade marks. But after that, you’ll want light passes. And pay attention to grain direction….or you’ll be sorry. I planed these down to 5/16”. That’s about the most you can get out of 4/4 material.

Tearout…never fails. Some pieces hate you and everything you stand for. For these deviants there is the no. 80 scraper. This little bugger allows to scrape smooth those trouble spots.

Now play with your panels. Try ‘em different ways, see which looks best. If they’re oversized, you can even rip some off the inside seam edge to get a better look.

When you get what you want, fold them like a book, plane a nice glue edge.

Gluey schmoooey. I’ll start gluing these a couple at a time while I mill the other parts to the project.

Smoothing bookmatched panels can be a pistol…..because the grain flips right on the seam. I give my best shot. Followed up by scrapers and fine hand sanding.

Might all sound simple, but if you’ll see, there’s some method to the madness.
For those who can add or improve on my process, I’m all ears.

Peace out, Red

-- Red-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

3 comments so far

View MaroonGoon's profile


280 posts in 746 days

#1 posted 11-26-2013 04:58 AM

Great tutorial. Never seen that technique about ripping a kerf before resawing on the BS but that makes a ton of sense. I’ll have to try it out.

I’m about to read the other furniture making blogs you just posted. I look forward to more of them since furniture making is my main interest.

-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

View BigRedKnothead's profile


6135 posts in 770 days

#2 posted 11-26-2013 05:19 AM

Sure Eric. They’re really just the tutorials I posted on the furniture making forum. Just making them easier to access.

-- Red-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View AnthonyReed's profile


5296 posts in 1228 days

#3 posted 11-26-2013 02:17 PM

Great information and well written tutorial. Thank you for taking the time to post your guide so it is easy to access. You are a huge asset to this site. Thanks BRK!

-- ~Tony

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