Wide Stock for a Chest of Drawers Top

Article - August 26, 2010

You have probably heard me say in the past that I love wide boards. Despite the fact that there may be an increased risk of cupping, I think its a chance worth taking for the sake of beautiful continuous grain. And I know many of you agree with me on this point. Well, this morning, I pulled out the boards I had set aside for the top of my Chest of Drawers. And wouldn’t ya know it, they were too short. Could have been over-cutting, I could have mis-read the cut list, or it could have simply been temporary insanity…. But until Powermatic comes out with their new board stretcher, it really doesn’t matter. The flippin’ boards are short! So I needed to make a quick trip to my friendly neighborhood lumber store, Spellman Hardwoods.

I specifically asked for the best stock in the place, so I knew I’d be paying through the nose on this one. But its for the top of a chest of drawers! It would be worth it. The stack I was taken to was not all that impressive. But the employee peeled a few boards away to reveal something spectacular! A 12 foot long 14″ wide piece of rough 4/4 walnut. “I’ll take it!!” At this width, my top will have only one seam. That’s good for the soul. And to make the situation even better, the cost was about $5.40/bf. Not bad for the desert!

So once I had the board home, I cut it down and started to visualize the top. Some people shy away from imperfections but I seem to be drawn to them like a Spagnuolo to pasta. And there are some odd knots and growths that are really catching my eye, so I decided to fill them with epoxy just in case I plan on including them in the final piece. I use West System epoxy with a few drops of Transtint Dark Mission Brown dye for the filler. Its essential that you tape off the underside just to make sure the epoxy doesn’t begin to seep out.

I’ll leave these boards overnight and start evaluating the situation tomorrow as I begin the flattening process. My strategy for that? Either use a hand plane to “mostly flatten” one side, then pass it through the planer. Or I can use that trick where you take the guard off the jointer, joint as much as you can, and then attach a piece of ply to the jointed area and run it through the planer. Until tomorrow my fellow wood chuckers! By the way, Lexi says HI!


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