Selecting lumber for an invisible glued-up panel
In this master class episode, Tom McLaughlin demonstrates how he selects lumber and mills it to prepare for an almost invisible slip-matched panel joint.
Sponsored by Lee Valley/Veritas
Welcome to this week’s edition of “Ben bragging about his job!”
I’ve always been intimidated at the lumberyard and in turn, I always rush through my lumber selection. Many times, that means I instinctually buy the prettiest boards that I can find. Granted, this is better than instinctually buying the ugliest boards, but in my time working at Fine Woodworking I have learned that many times the prettiest board isn’t the best board for a piece of furniture. In the days before Covid, all of the woodworkers at the office would pile into a van and go to the lumberyard together as one big (kinda dorky) woodworking gang. Once we muscled our way into the lumber sheds, we’d help each other dig through stacks of hardwood pointing out grain elements or defects to each other along the way. It was a communal effort and for me an enormous education. I learned a huge amount those first few years reading a board with the likes of Mike Pekovich, Matt Kenney, and Anissa Kapsales.
All of us at Fine Woodworking know how lucky we are to be surrounded by a wealth of woodworking talent, and in turn, we try to communicate as much of that knowledge as possible to you–our incredible readers and viewers. That’s why I am so happy that we asked Tom McLaughlin to start this project earlier in the journey than most videos; well before any sawdust had been made. In this video Tom tell us what he is looking for in a board and what throws up a red flag when inspecting a board. Then he takes us through the milling process and the decisions he makes before gluing up a wide panel. For this design, the form of the piece is the element Tom wants to show off, so he doesn’t want the grain of the top to overwhelm the piece. In the end Tom decides on a slip-matched top and pulls off an almost invisible glueline.