Tracking Boards for Bookmatching

Ways to keep track of bookmatched board pairs from sawing through drying and planing. April 19, 2006

Was milling some quarter sawn white oak for a gent today who made me smile as I watched him bookmatch two highly figured boards for the first time. He picked the boards up, carried them to the stack where they were buried with all the other bookmatches. That's the last he'll see of those two boards together. Got me to thinkin' would them boards make it if they were edge joined and glued up green, then run through the kiln cycle?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor K:
This is a great question. As I mill and get into nice boards, I like to keep them together. (I regularly use a crayon to mark an "M" on the end of the nicely paired boards.) As they land over in the stackyard to dry, get dead stacked, graded and head to market, things get pretty mixed up. I would be more attentive if there were a premium on the matched boards. There does not seem to be any extra money in them. Who recognizes the aesthetic value of this material and will they pay? Is bookmatch just random luck that a trained artistic eye can capitalize on? They sure are a nice way to turn 12 inch nice pieces into a 24 inch plus spectacular piece.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Gluing green hardwoods like oak together is virtually impossible. The stresses in drying will fracture the joint. Most adhesives today do not work on green wood. Green wood also does not have any chemical receptors available for gluing. Some people have experimented with gluing softwoods. They usually dry the surface quickly and then glue before moisture moves in from within the wood. I have seen sawmills cut a log and then put the log back together in the same way it was sawn (minus sawdust). These logs are then banded to keep them together and shipped to Europe.

From contributor B:
I have a red and a black lumber crayon that I mark the bookmarked boards with - A/A, B/B, C/C, etc. After the first board, each board will have two different letters depending on which board it will be matched to. I will figure that out later when they are dried and ready to process. I will be removing the letters in jointing and planning, so will have to mark on the ends then. For now, I just make a quick big letter on the face of the board as I stack it on the trailer off the mill.

From contributor G:
Horizon Wood Products in PN saws through and through, dries, and sells by the log. All of their boards are matched and come with a little tag giving the log number and slice number. They get a premium for that. I prefer to buy 8/4 and resaw to 4/4 for bookmatching.