Video Tips Plans Tips from Woodsmith Kreg Community
Elegant Bench
High-quality wood projects factor in tight-fitting joints, smoothly sanded surfaces, and the importance of a durable finish. In an attempt to focus on these aspects, it’s easy to overlook the fact that a perfect-looking project often starts with boards that have matching color and grain. In this edition of Kreg Plus, we’ll focus on this important factor and share tips for getting the best results.

Know What You Need

Wood Grain
Creating a quality project starts at the lumberyard, which is why it’s a smart idea to come prepared. Making a parts list can be helpful when it comes to identifying what type of wood grain you need for the major parts of your project.

If wood grain isn’t considered, the final look of your project is bound to seem “off.” Both straight grain and cathedral grain can be useful in projects. They key is knowing what you need before you buy your pieces.

Why Grain Selection Matters

Wood Grain Here’s an easy way to see the difference careful grain selection makes. The panel on the left uses straight-grained pieces for the rails and stiles, which helps make the door look straight and balanced. A panel with cathedral grain (bookmatched in this case) adds personality. The random grain in the right-hand panel lacks symmetry that would give a better appearance.

Pick Boards Close in Color

You’ll also want to find boards that are as close as possible in color to get a consistent look. It’s a smart idea to buy at least 10% to 15% extra material. Having extra stock makes it easier to match parts properly and make test pieces.

If you want a sneak peak of your material’s finished color, a handy trick is to apply a little water on the surface of the lumber. This will give you a reasonably good idea of what it will look like when a clear finish is applied. Double-check with store staff before you wet material you haven’t yet purchased.

Back in the Shop

Once you get your lumber home, lay out the pieces for an initial sorting of color and grain. A pair of sawhorses makes the perfect platform. If your project requires gluing up boards to make a wide surface, such as a tabletop, be sure to look over your boards closely to ensure they’ll look good side by side. Sorting

Mark As You Go

Take the time to examine each board carefully, marking any defects as you go. It’s a good idea to mark out the major or most-visible parts of your projects with chalk. If you find a piece is missing, go back to the lumberyard while the same batch of boards is there. If you wait a few weeks, you may miss the opportunity to find your perfectly-matching piece. Mark Defects

A Look at Legs

Legs can be tricky since all four faces are visible. If you need to make legs out of thicker stock, look for a grain that runs at about a 45-degree angle. Then it will present a similar pattern on all four surfaces, like the leg in the photo. Legs

A New Routine for Project Success

After following this process a few times, you’re sure to notice an improvement in your finished projects. And you’ll never let grain problems happen again!

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