Beyond Shape, Proportions & Size - The SHOW Face

Beyond Shape, Proportions & Size - The SHOW Face
Even the simplest piece of furniture is made up of a BUNCH of parts. Getting each part’s shape and size right AND the joinery cut correctly - at the right size and location can be a lot more difficult than you’d think. It’s SO easy to end up with two left front and two right front legs (and NO left rear or right rear legs), or a front apron or stretcher slightly, but noticably, shorter than the rear apron or stretcher. And when you’re cutting out the sockets of through or half blind dovetails, it’s REALLY easy to think you’re cutting out the socket of a tail when you’re actually cutting out the tail (MARK THE WASTE SIDE OF THE LINE!).
With all the measuring and layout, fence set ups, stops to set, rip and cross cuts to make, the joinery to cut - it’s REALLY easy to make a criticial mistake somewhere along the line. Some of the OOPSes are fixable, some mean DO OVER.
Now if you’re only concerned with making a piece of furniture that’s “this tall, this wide and this deep”, along with some details like how thick are the legs, how wide is the apron, how thick is the top - and because you’re going to PAINT IT - you don’t have to worry about the SHOW Face. And even if the wood isn’t going to be given a coat of paint, just getting making the parts correctly is the focus - noticing how the grain works or doesn’t work together may only be notable after the fact - when the piece is done and finished.
But somewhere along your woodworking journey, the color, grain and figure of the wood you use for a project will eventually become REALLY important. You’ll spend quite a bit time laying out a bunch of boards, flipping them around, turning them over, sliding them to get the best grain match, arranging and re-arranging them, searching for the best combination that’ll take your project up a notch. You may even make full scale “picture frames” for some parts and move the “frame” around on candidate pieces of stock, searching for just the right grain directiona and pattern. A pair of framing squares take on a new use - a window through which to view a drawer front or maybe a panel for a door. And when the WOOD becomes a significant part of your idea, you’ll likely escape “Get The Most Parts From The Least Amount Of Wood” and begin to forget about the Per Board Foot Price Tag.
(As an aside - if you pick up nice wood when “deals” come along, even though you have no immediate, or foreseeable use for it - when the time comes to use it - you will have long forgotten its price. If you wait long enough, inflation will make the price you paid years earlier seem cheap. At that point the quality of your work can change - significantly - for the better)
Now there is a downside to worrying about getting the best SHOW faces for parts. The effect of a machine operation on the SHOW face becomes vey significant. If there are any stop cuts or router operations required to make the parts for your piece things can get a bit complicated. How do you make the stopped rip cut so that the overcut doesn’t show on the SHOW face? When you route a specific part, will it require a Climb Cut to avoid possible (and probable) tear out?
So how many projects had you completed before the SHOW face of parts became a real issue for a piece?
How long had you been woodworking before the cost of the wood you used was forgotten?
Have you “wasted” half or more of a piece of stock in order to get the SHOW face look you wanted?
How has the importance of the SHOW face complicated how you made a piece?
charlie b
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What's with all that header info in your post ?
charlieb wrote:

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Charlie, I thought I was the only one . . . I often wonderd if other woodworkers "wasted" as much time as I do obsessing over getting just the right look. You captured the essence of my journey quite nicely.
But I'll never forget one time when I worried to much about the "show" and it bit me in butt. I was building a solid wood back about 36 X 48 for a display case. Since the back would show, I carefully arranged the boards for the best grain presentation. It was beautiful. The first winter, the back bowed around like it was part of a barrel. In my obsession over grain, I had oriented every single board with the smiles of the end grain facing the same direction. When they cupped, they all cupped the same way with really bad results.
Now I have one more thing to worry about. In addition to show, I have to worry about grain direction and stability too.
DonkeyHody "Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects." - Will Rogers
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