Seamless Curved Panel Glue-ups


Work with the grain when gluing panels, even when the grain throws you a curve.
By Mario Rodriguez
Pages: 66-69

From the December 2009 issue #180
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When I look at a piece of furniture, aside from its design and craftsmanship, I examine how the wood was used. How was it employed to enhance the design and optimize its appearance? Grain, color and species all contribute to its success. However, one aspect that is often overlooked is the harmonious arrangement of the boards that make up the piece’s larger panels. These could be the panels contained within a door frame or the piece’s top.

Consider the visual appeal of a dining table with a top made of two wide boards instead of one comprised of six or seven narrow boards. The viewer’s eye takes in the smooth flow of that expanse, uninterrupted by the jarring sight of multiple seams, abrupt changes in color, and converging grain patterns and lines. Most people would prefer a top made of fewer boards to one that resembles butcher block.

A table, or any piece of furniture, made of fewer individual pieces of wood, creates a calm, harmonious and luxurious effect, while eliminating unnecessary distractions and visual noise.

To a woodworker, wide boards can mean an additional expense because most lumberyards and suppliers charge a premium for wide material. Or maybe some trees only grow to a certain diameter. So the supply of wood is restricted to narrow boards. How might a woodworker create a harmonious wide panel or top from narrow material?

If you can arrange the seams of boards to run parallel to the grain, a joint will be easier to hide, creating the illusion of a single board. Sometimes it can be as easy as cutting a new edge. And all that’s sacrificed is a little wood. But if the grain wanders and curves, simply reorienting the edge won’t do the trick.

For this idea to work on a board with meandering grain it would require cutting tight, clean adjoining edges to a curve that follows the grain.


From the December 2009 issue #180
Buy this issue now