Matching Wood for Tabletops


Earlier this summer I finished a small table. The top, which I like a lot, was more luck than skill. All I had to do was not mess up the wood. Making a tabletop with pieces from the same board makes things easier. For one, the color is going to match. With straight(ish) grain it’s easier to get a nice pattern, too.

The only downside to this ribbon figure is that the stripes run in opposite directions. Controlling tear out took some work. Eventually a 12 degree back bevel and hand scraper did the trick nicely. And cross-grain planing only.

I hit up the lumberyard again recently looking for similar straight grained boards for a coffee table.

I failed to keep the simple objective of “straight grain” in my head as I moved board after board in the heat. Which is how I ended up with several striking boards that definitely do not have straight grain and are proving to be a real bear to piece together in a way that does cause a neural fit on looking at them together.



After laying them side by side and dealing with cruel reality that they do not match color-wise, grain-wise, or good sense-wise I ditched the idea.

However, I couldn’t let go of the idea of using the two nearly bookmatched boards as the center of the table

I then played with every conceivable matching permutation  with the other boards I have. Well over an hour of laying boards out and snapping pics so that I could go and look at them again. And again.

Finally, I settled on the combination below. It was the one that, strange as it may sound, made me feel at ease. That may just be the sense that I won’t hate it once it’s glued up.