An Oft-forgotten Step

There is much in the process from a pile of lumber to a piece of furniture.  More than just stock preparation and joinery, anyway.


Although each are integral unto themselves.

One of the most important steps to my creative process is initial parts layout.  In any piece where the grain will be visible, before any lines are scribed or joints cut, I always lay the pieces out on the bench and read the grain.  Then I arrange the parts in a way that is (i) most aesthetically pleasing and (ii) works for any unique considerations in the piece.


Like this.

From past experience, I know the vertical pieces in an assembly like this should be the most stable pieces.  This means the four straightest, tightest grain boards become the stiles of the side frames.  Once assembled, these two frames will then be joined with several cross rails, which (together with the tops of the frames) should also be as stable as possible.  Whatever is left can be the lower rails and the drawer runners.

Assuming everything is joined squarely (a big assumption, sometimes), the piece then has the best chance of resisting twisting after final assembly.  And it doesn’t hurt that the cherry in question is as dry as anything I’ve ever worked with.



  1. Too true, & a VERY good point. I often spend hours not only selecting the most suitable lumber, but also my layout. Stiles & rails are not only the most visible part of any cabinetry, but are the basis for properly-functioning drawers & doors. Excellent reminder to us all. Thank you for another great post

    Liked by 1 person

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