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Matching wood grain with minimal waste

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Forum topic by Abn101mp posted 03-13-2017 08:47 PM 508 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Abn101mp

51 posts in 428 days


03-13-2017 08:47 PM

I am making a pair of night stands out of ash and have started to plane the boards. I am going to have to join some together to get the width I need and in doing so try to keep with the beauty of the grain and heart features of the wood. The question I have is, do I match up the center of the heart of the boards to make it look like one larger board and trim the sides or just trim one side of the board and extend it to save lumber. This is really beautiful wood but I am trying to keep the waste down.

-- Dan,Mid-Maine


12 replies so far

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Kazooman

867 posts in 1788 days


#1 posted 03-13-2017 09:17 PM

Hi Dan,

I hope the impending storm passes you by….

It is a matter of taste, but I wouldn’t like the alternating bands in the way you have the boards arrayed in the picture. It just shouts “glue-up” to me. My taste, others may vary.

On another aspect of your project, I would be concerned about the stability of some of the boards. The one on the right especially looks like it would be very prone to cupping or twisting. In addition to getting a pattern of the light and dark that is pleasing to your eye, you will need to keep an eye on the direction of the growth rings in the individual boards, alternating them whenever possible to minimize problems.

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Abn101mp

51 posts in 428 days


#2 posted 03-13-2017 09:41 PM

Thank you. It looks like we are going to get hit with 12+ inches starting tomorrow afternoon. Winter isn’t done with us yet I guess.
I didn’t really arrange the boards in a particular manner for the picture but I am glad you brought that to my attention. As far as the board to the right. Are you suggesting that boards with the heart swirling from one end towards the other end may be better cut and ripped for trim.
As for the rest, I have 5-7 more boards to plane but the saw mill I got them from didn’t stick them properly so a couple have a twist in the middle. So I am cutting them to length then planing them. I think I will finish planing, lay them all out and see how they look grain wise. Rough cut can be a little deceiving.

-- Dan,Mid-Maine

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Aj2

1175 posts in 1634 days


#3 posted 03-13-2017 09:56 PM

I try to arrange my table top grain for Harmony.So the flat sawn oval grain in the middle framed with quartersawn or rift.That always looks best beacuse it looks like the inside of a tree.

Aj

-- Aj

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Kazooman

867 posts in 1788 days


#4 posted 03-13-2017 10:21 PM

Dan,

Google something like “flat sawn quarter sawn” or “flat sawn rift sawn” to see the ways a tree can be sawn into flat lumber. Each method has its pluses and minuses. Rift sawing has a lot of waste, but the boards are the most stable. Flat sawing gives the highest yield of boards from the stock, but some of the boards are bound to have problems as they dry. The boards taken from near the edge of the log will have grain patterns that are curved when you look at the end of the piece. As the wood dries, the natural shrinkage is uneven and the piece will twist and or cup.

Your piece on the right looks like it is from the extreme outside of the log, perhaps at a point where a big limb was branching off. When I look at it the board almost cries out that it is going to move a lot.

Of course, all of this depends on how well the lumber has been dried and cared for before you got it. It could be stable, but planing to a new surface can upset the apple cart. Just be aware that this can be a potential problem.

Here’s one reference:

http://www.advantagelumber.com/sawn-lumber/

PS: We have the edge of the storm that is headed your way. Green grass for over a month and we woke up to 2” of new snow. It is snowing right now. All this after having played golf here in Michigan in a short sleeved shirt in February.

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Abn101mp

51 posts in 428 days


#5 posted 03-13-2017 10:51 PM

This lumber has been dried in my shop for over a year and before that it was dried for at least 6 months that I know of before I bought it. I suppose I should have planed it a few weeks ago to allow to dry some more. It is between 1 inch and 1 1/8 thick and I am planing it down to 3/4.
I hope this isnt going to cause a lot of problems.
I am in assumption all of it is flat sawn lumber as most of it has the same dark center grain and light edges.
Thank you very much for the link. It was very helpful.
No snow here yet. But it is coming…..

-- Dan,Mid-Maine

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JBrow

1273 posts in 756 days


#6 posted 03-14-2017 12:49 AM

Abn101mp,

One method for getting a descent match of two or more boards that will be glued to form a wide panel is to cut all the boards that will form the panel from the same board (or adjacent boards if from a flitch). When possible this may be the best method for good color and grain matching. Otherwise, to my eye, arranging boards according to color first and then grain pattern produces a nicer looking panel. If a board’s color in the center of a glued panel is off enough from the adjacent boards, it really stands out.

I like to first select and set aside the boards for the glue-up for the most prominent panels first then move on to find boards for less important panels. Holding off on the glue-ups until all the boards for all the glue-up have been selected allow for some final re-arranging, which I find I usually do.

Dampening the candidate boards for a glue-up after arranged for gluing with unadulterated mineral spirits can highlight clashing variations of grain and color before it is too late. If you wet the proposed and arranged boards for your glue-up, I suspect it will be very apparent whether it is best to rip off the sap wood, leave the sap wood, or leave some accent sap wood with a lot of heartwood.

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Abn101mp

51 posts in 428 days


#7 posted 03-15-2017 01:17 PM

So I have started joining boards. Here is my first one. Tell me what you think.

-- Dan,Mid-Maine

View Kazooman's profile

Kazooman

867 posts in 1788 days


#8 posted 03-15-2017 11:07 PM

Sorry to be so late in responding, I just saw your post.

I like the look of the grain pattern and for my eye I am pleased that you chose to not have a lighter section running down the middle of the piece.

I still have my concerns about the stability of the final panel. It looks like the two pieces are joined with their natural grain curves in the same direction. Any tendency to curve with changes in moisture content will be additive, not compensating.

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Abn101mp

51 posts in 428 days


#9 posted 03-15-2017 11:24 PM

Well thanks for the input. I was hoping it was close to acceptable.
You are correct. The natural grain curves are going in the same direction. And I completely understand your point. Not making excuses, but honestly, this was the side most cooperative as far as matching the grain and if I were to alternate sides the color would not have matched nearly as close.
That being said. I took advice from another individual and used 2 pieces from the same board. Since this picture I have joined all the other pieces for one of the night stands and there are drying.
I am in hopes your concern as far as curving will be minor given the fact they are only 28 inches long and I have decided to do do Dado’s for the shelving.
There is no doubt you have a good point.

-- Dan,Mid-Maine

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Aj2

1175 posts in 1634 days


#10 posted 03-16-2017 12:01 AM

Looks good to me I always arrange for the best look.

-- Aj

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Abn101mp

51 posts in 428 days


#11 posted 03-16-2017 12:18 AM

Question:
I am making these friends for a friend’s daughter and her fiance. She had requested them to be stained walnut to match the bedroom furniture she has.
Do you think walnut will hide alot of this nice grain or should I try to convince her into a light stain like Puritan pine or even just polyurethane.

-- Dan,Mid-Maine

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JBrow

1273 posts in 756 days


#12 posted 03-16-2017 12:19 AM

Abn101mp,

The boards are well matched by color and wood grain and as long as you like the way panel looks good, it is a go. I found it difficult to find the glue seam in the photo.

Any cupping issues later on can be minimized if all six surfaces of the top are sanded and finished exactly the same. However, I like to apply finish to the end grain until the finish is no longer pulled into the wood. I have observed that tops seem to cup very slight after a while even with these precautions. However it has always been extremely slight (and probably seasonal though I cannot say for sure); I have to specifically look for the cup to see it. I suppose that the upper surface of the top loses a little more moisture, even after finish is applied to all surfaces, than the lower surface because the upper surface has a bit more exposure to sunlight (direct or indirect) and air movement than the lower surface.

I think it would be a good idea to sticker the panels until finish can be applied, otherwise some cupping of the unfinished panels could occur. Stickering will allow air to flow freely along all surfaces of the panels and help keep them flat.

While I doubt this added step is necessary for your interior table tops, I have gone one step further to tame cupping on red oak table tops that are used outdoors on a covered patio. It has been extra effective in keeping the tops flat. I used a core box bit in the router and routed a set of grooves on the underside of the top that were parallel to the wood grain at depth of about ¼ of the thickness of the top spaced about two inches apart. These “kerf” cuts seem to dissipate forces that can otherwise lead to cupping.

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