Good-Looking Panels | Popular Woodworking Magazine

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Nothing makes furniture look worse than door panels with an unattractive grain that slides at rare angles. It pays to be picky about the direction of the grain, even if it means wasting some plywood.

After assembling the door frames without glue, slide them over the plywood sheet until they frame attractive panels. Look for symmetrical grain patterns that you can center. Avoid patterns that flow to one side.

I try to find a grain that looks like mountains or cathedral arches. These A-shaped patterns make doors and cabinets look taller and more graceful. Narrow-grained models, in which early and late growth are close together, usually look better than coarse-grained models.

Mark your beautiful panels by tracing the inside of the door frames. At least cut out the traced panels 1/2 larger on all four sides. Then cut them to fit the frames. Use the ugly plywood that remains for masks or other places where looks don’t matter.—Tim Johnson


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