Bookmatched Lumber    


In the world of high-end furniture, buyers may frequently encounter the term bookmatching.  This term comes from the fact that two boards (or pieces of veneers, as described later) which are cut sequentially from a log are opened up just as one would open a book.  The grain pattern in the two boards form a mirror image of each other.  From a design point of view, this symmetry can be exploited in a variety of ways.

In the left image shown below, you can see an ambrosia maple log from which boards are being sawn.  The board which has just been cut is standing on it's edge next to the log section.  By looking at the distinct grain patterns in this ambrosia maple, you can get a feel for the bookmatching concept.  The center photo below shows a simple example of how bookmatching can be used in a small project.  In this case, a pair of bookmatched ambrosia maple boards has been edge-glued together and used as the front section of this weather station.  Although the gauges obscure part of the grain pattern, you can see the symmetry of the dark brown streaks.  A more striking example of bookmatching is shown in the right image below.  The arms and the back slats of this chair have been bookmatched, which adds a subtle yet elegant look to the rustic styling of the Adirondack chair design.


(Click any photo for a close-up view)

The chest of drawers seen below shows a more sophisticated utilization of bookmatching within a large furniture piece.  As seen in the photo on the left, the side panel of the chest is made up of two wide bookmatched boards, which gives the panel nearly perfect visual symmetry, especially given the distinct cathedral grain patterns in the pine lumber.  The right side of the chest is bookmatched in similar fashion.   In the right hand photo, you can see that bookmatching has been further exploited in the drawer fronts.  The top two small drawers use bookmatched boards opened end-to-end.  The second and third drawer fronts also have matching grain patterns, although they have not been technically bookmatched.  Two sequential boards cut from a log have been oriented so one is rotated 180 degrees from the other.  Given the offset nature of the knot and surrounding growth rings in each panel, the arrangement yields an subtle Ying Yang appearance in the two drawer fronts.


(Click any photo for a close-up view)

Bookmatching with Veneer

Bookmatching can also be accomplished using veneers, similar to the solid lumber examples shown previously.  More sophisticated effects can be achieved with veneer since it is sliced so thin and appears highly similar across multiple sheets.  By exploiting the grain similarity through two, four, and up to sixteen sheets of veneer, the following patterns can be created:

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