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Choosing sides

Sometimes the hardest part of a project is the first step: Picking which side of a piece of stock to be the one everybody sees.

Most of the time choosing the presentation side of a piece of is straightforward – one side simply looks better than the other. But every once in a while, you come up with a piece of wood that’s just as beautiful on one side as it is the other, but maybe in a different way. That’s the case with this awesome slab I bought for a table project a couple days ago.

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Just so you know, in the image above I’ve wet down the surfaces to show the awesome figure. I also marked it to show how it will need to be shortened – those dotted lines will shift left or right, but that’s the approximate length I need. Both surfaces have exactly the same amount of curly figuring, albeit in different locations, and the same coloration.

If I go with the top orientation, I’ve got some knots (which I’ll fill with tinted epoxy), some nice dark lines and a good bit of spalting. This surface was nearer the outer portion of tree so the edges will slope down, making for slightly less table surface.

If I go with the bottom orientation, I’ve got more (and bigger) knots that are much more visible, but no lines or spalting. This surface was nearer the inside of the tree, so the edges slope upward, giving a bit more table surface.

But, as Ella Fitzgerald said years ago, it’s gotta be this or that, so I have to pick one. Unfortunately, my project is temporarily stalled because I simply can’t decide which face of that slab to make the presentation side. There’s one thing I’m sure of, though: No matter which side I ultimately choose, this is going to make a stunning table.

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