Decorative Wood Panels & Panelling for Furniture
Broad surfaces of case furniture such as bookcases and cabinets are panelled partially as a means of decoration but principally for constructive reasons. If the surface were made from a solid board it would soon crack and warp as the wood became dryer. It might be built up and veneered as has been described for table tops, and this is occasionally done, but as panelling gives a change of plane with a chance for light and shade it is more commonly used.
The wood panels are, however, veneered and cross-veneered on both sides of a core whenever perfect workmanship is wanted.
Making Wood Panels
Wood panels are surrounded by a frame which may be grooved to receive them, but a better way is to rebate the frame and hold the wooden panels in by wood mouldings. Three ways of doing this are shown in the diagram below. In the joiner's method either a groove is worked in the styles of the surrounding frame to hold the panels, and then the moulding is placed in the angle against the panel; or, a rebate is cut in which both panel and moulding are set.
In either case, if the moulding is nailed in, the nail will probably be driven directly in the panel or else diagonally through both the edge of the panel and rail. In the first instance any shrinkage of the panel causes a crack to appear between the frame and the moulding.
To avoid this a rebate can be cut in the moulding, when it is large enough to permit, so it will lap over on the frame a little and hide the joint.
But here although (see illustration) the nail holds the moulding close against the frame, it also catches the edge of the panel and prevents it moving. The result is that cracks appear in the panel itself.
It does not improve matters much if the moulding is glued in for the glue almost always binds both moulding and panel to the frame so that a rupture will occur somewhere.
The cabinet-maker avoids these difficulties. First, he cuts a rebate in the frame on the finish side. In this the moulding is glued solidly so it becomes a part of the frame itself. When the glue is dry the varnished panel is set in from the back and held in place by plain mouldings nailed to the frame. This leaves the panel loose and free to move should shrinkage take place. The object in varnishing the panel before setting it is that if any movement does occur it will not be seen by the exposure of a line of unfinished wood.
Flush panels are so named because their surface is level with the surrounding frame. They are set in a rebate from the back and secured by a nailed moulding. In most cases a bead is run all round the edge of the panel so as to hide the joint between it and the frame. Such panels are used for the back of cases and in places where no decorative effect is wanted.
Panels may have the edges beveled or rebated below their surface, so as to produce a sort of border around the panel itself. Such panels are sometimes spoken of as raised panels to distinguish them from a flat, even surface.
Decorative Features of Panels
The surface of a panel is made of more carefully selected wood than that used for mouldings, and rails, with the intention of having a handsome grain. Veneers are chosen that have been cut from a portion of a log furnishing strong markings, or "figures," when polished, and these are sometimes cut in smaller pieces either half or quarter the size of the panel, and placed together so the lines of the grain will form a pattern or a "picture". At other times a design is inlaid on the panel, or it is carved. The simplest form of carved panel is that with the surface moulded to resemble, more or less, the folds of drapery, and called linen, or parchment panels.
By arranging the mouldings around flat panels so as to produce forms with a broken outline the stiff rectangular panel is avoided. Three varieties are shown on Plate in the picture.
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