After the boards are explored a bit, it is time to make 10,000 decisions.
Is this a good board for the top? Is this board too warped to be used? What about this defect, will it show? Can I find 3 boards with matching grain for the drawer fronts? I thought I had more boards than this? Should I go back and buy more? (The answer to that is almost always yes.)
If it sounds like I obsess over this part, it is because I do. The look of the boards in the final project will “make or break” your outcome. All visible pieces need to look intentional. To me, that means making the panels look either like a single board or look book-matched. I really prefer the look of a single board. Also, the drawers all need to match. Even though they are only 28inches long, I am going to take them from 60in long boards so the grain will flow across the whole piece. These details will make the project look much better than a mixture of grains, colors, and figure scrambled together. You could build a cabinet with perfect proportions, perfect joinery, and perfect functionality, but if the wood grain is distracting (not matching) you will hate looking at it. Trust me.
Off that soapbox – back to the lumber.
I hope that in the first picture you can see how I labeled the boards with chalk. DF=drawer front. You may also notice that 1 board is labeled “top”, and the sides of 2 more are labeled “top”. What is the deal? Well, the one board was about 6inches too narrow for the top, so I needed to glue more to it. I did not have any 6inch wide board that matched the piece I had chosen for the top. After much pondering, I finally noticed that I have 2 boards reserved for drawer fronts that were at least 3 inches too wide. Bingo. I ripped 3 inches off of each board and will put them on each side of the “top” board. The nice things about this is those edge pieces should make the top look like one solid board rather than 3 separate pieces. We shall see.
Oh, you may also notice that the “top” board was ripped in half. Unfortunately it had a small split in the center that was impossible to hide. The top is not structural, but I really didn’t want to look at that crack for the rest of my life.