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
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