Penny Wise, Pound Foolish?

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish
How many times have you seen a a well proportioned, well executed and beautifully finished piece - thatís just not quite right - because of - frugality?
For the beginner and even intermediate amateur woodworker, thereís a tendency / temptation to use as much as possible of each board. And itís understandable, given the price of wood these days and the difficulty of finding furniture grade stock. Or it could be that we buy only what weíre going to need for the current project - and not a board foot more. OK - so maybe we go with the 15% Rule - get 15% more wood than your Cut List says is required.
And when it comes to cutting the parts for a piece, itís easy to worry a lot about dimensions and efficiency - and overlook the grain of the wood. Thatís understandable because itís pretty important that parts that are supposed to be the same length are in fact the same length, and that parts that are supposed to be the same width and thickness - are. There is a reason for the maxim Measure Twice, Cut Once. In order to make parts with the same dimensions, itís best to cut ALL those parts with one machine set up, the same fence set up for rips, the same stops for cross cuts, the same angles for miters, the same setting for the marking gauge when laying out mortises, tenons, etc..
With all the things to keep track of itís so easy to fall into The Forest For The Trees trap - the grain in the WHOLE piece and how they work together being the forest, the trees being all the individual parts and the machine operations for cutting them - not just rips and cross cuts, but the cuts the joinery necessitates. There are a lot of operations and details that go into even the simplest of pieces - itís understandablenot surprising that the look and flow of the grain is often overlooked. If I can make all the parts, including the joinery - that fit together as they should - without the loss of a body part, or even some blood - well THAT my friend is a SUCCESS. If the finish is even half way decent - THAT is a MIRACLE!
And then the Post Project Critique begins - that joint should be tighter, that sapwood is distracting, why did I narrow down this part just to avoid a knot or a sap pocket when I had the wood to make a better part? The list goes on and on - but often does not include - the look of the grain for the whole piece and so I end up with a piece that doesnít flow, doesnít look quite right - that leg is quarter sawn - and this one isnít, those two boards donít go together in that door panel, . . .
And I suspect that the overlooked but critical part of the process of making the piece - the grain and the flow of the grain - didnít get the attention it deserved in order to avoid ďwasting woodĒ. Why cut off 6 or 8 inches, maybe even foot or more of a fairly good board just to get a part with nice grain that goes with what will be around it. Donít I have enough cut offs stashed around the shop Iím certain I can use - someday. ďIn a pinch, maybe I can use ALL of this cherry board.Ē might not be such a good idea - in the Big Picture.
Would you take a 26Ē x 32Ē rectangle, diagonally, out of a 4x8 sheet of birdseye maple if thatís what the piece required? How about ripping am 8Ēwide part - out of the middle of a 12Ē wide mahogany board?
Are you Penny Wise - Pound Foolish?
Add pictures here
‚úĖ
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
True. So true.
Barry.
Add pictures here
‚úĖ
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
yes... and no.
I certainly agree that when I see a well-executed project with a glaring asymmetry if grain, I find it off-putting.
When I select material for the parts of a project, I start with the most prominent pieces first. Typically, this is drawer fronts, followed by panels, then top. I try to select like components, or paired stiles from the same board.
For a side that has two panels, I will try to resaw stock for a bookmatched pair. For a single panel side, I'll bookmatch and glue up a panel to achieve the same symmetry. When choosing stock I aim for symmetry and balance, more so than "sameness". By boomatching, off-axis grain becomes pleasingly balanced.
My point is that by being really picky where is counts, and not so picky for the less prominent components, you can make 20% waste look pretty darned good.
I suspect that the most glaring grain errors come when people are just focussed on size and shape and not thinking of grain at all.
-Steve

--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com


Add pictures here
‚úĖ
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
charlieb wrote:

Sure!
There's always a need for glue blocks, back parts, braces, drawer guides & slides, pulls, stops, dust cover frames, internal stretchers, bottom parts... <G>
I didn't always, though. I did exactly your described beginner and intermediate technique.
Add pictures here
‚úĖ
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Stephen's resawn to get bookmatched pairs method of getting the best out of an asymetric grained board is a great idea - if you start with stock thick enough - which most of us don't - AND have a band saw and know how to use it. And he's right - a single ugly guy is just ugly. But a pair of identical twin ugly guys - well they're cute.
Interesting how important symetry is to our built in sense of what looks good and what doesn't. Something to add to "design consider- ations".
His prioritization of where the grain really matters and where it isn't as important is obvios - if you think about it - which we're not able to do early on in woodworking - every bit of what we start with has to be used somewhere in the piece.
And Barry is right - cut what you need for THIS piece. The rest WILL get used - in time (assuming you don't get too oral anal retentive and run out of places to put it - and all it's cousins)
SO - Keep The Grain In Mind.
charlie b
Add pictures here
‚úĖ
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I dunno, Charlie, what do you think of this bit of grain? It became much more prominent after finishing. The photo marked "drawer grain". http://tomeshew.spaces.live.com/ I _could_ redo it, if necessary. Tom
Add pictures here
‚úĖ
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
tom wrote:

YANK! ( the sound of my chain being pulled)
OK - I looked closely at the picture in question - in PhotoShop and there seems to be the slightest indication of two rip cuts - but they would have to have been done with a thin kerf blade. And the bottom of the drawer seems to have been planed down just a little unevenly.
An azabeki could have been used for the rip cuts - but the cross cuts would be tricky - being to short.
Nice job, and once the grain is popped it'll be an even nicer job.
Oh, and cutting the part above the piece with the drawer in it from the same board was a nice touch, as are the bookmatched cathedral grain on each side of the rear of the corner cabinet. NICE!
So how'd YOU do it?
charlie b
Add pictures here
‚úĖ
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Actually the part above the piece with the drawer is not from the same board, but just a happy accident that the grain appears to flow from each to each. You're half right about the drawer being uneven, still a little fitting to be done (it was put together yesterday), but that can wait. How did I do what, cut out the drawer front? And how would you suggest that I "pop" the grain? Tom
Add pictures here
‚úĖ
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
tom wrote:

I suspect that it wasn't just an accident - you didn't just stumble on two pairs of bookmatched cathedral grain - by accident. Even if it was an accident, take the compliment - and don't volunteer any additional info.
Re: popping the grain.
Normally the answer would be oil, thinned tung oil, watco "teak oil" or even thinned BLO (boiled linseed oil). But to the left of the drawer you've got some grain that looks very proned to "splotching" because it's coming straight up into the face of the board just like the grain on the cut off end of a board. Using the grain as soda straws analogy, oil, stains etc. won't go into the sides of the straws, just between them. But oil, stains etc. will get sucked into the ends of the straws - and become much darker than on the side grain / side of the soda straws. You don't want that. Sand that area to a couple of grits finer than you do the rest of the board. Then a "spit coat" or two of dewaxed shellac, (half pound or one pound cut - eg half pound or pound of ground shellac flakes to a gallon of alcohol) the more colorless the better - maybe super blonde or platina- will seal off the ends of the "straws" with a clear "cap". Very light sanding between coats and again after the last application - it doesn't penetrate very far and you don't want to sand off the "cap". When the oil is applied - flow it on, flood it even. it will darken everything a little but will kick up the contrast between the light and dark grain, making the grain "pop". Let it sit for a while to have time to soak in, then wipe off the excess - and keep wiping 'til a white paper towel stays white. Apply a second coat the next day if need be.
Wait the suggested drying and curing time - plus a couple of days - before a light sanding and then the final finish application.
But be careful, cherry is noted for its tendency to splotch. Exper- iment on cut offs or someplace it won't show on the finished piece.
charlie b
Add pictures here
‚úĖ
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I've done both. At times it is tough to make that cut, but in your heart, you know when it is the right thing to do. The pain last for only a moment, but the beauty endures for generations.
Add pictures here
‚úĖ
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.