When I stain bookmatched oak veneer panels, every other panel comes out darker. Why, and what can I do about it?
Carol Reed: It is a matter of light reflection and where you are standing. Move, and the panels could appear to have changed places.
Michael Dresdner: What you are seeing is caused by runout, which means the wood was cut diagonally across the grain, which ends up at a slight angle going either toward you or away from you. Depending on your viewing position, you are viewing either more or less end grain because of that. On one face you are looking down into the grain, which looks darker. On the bookmatched face you are looking at less, if any, end grain, making it look lighter. You will see the same flip-flop effect by walking around a piece of stained figured maple. Guitarmakers go out of their way to use top wood that has no runout. They do that by using split rather than cut wood, since split wood goes along the grain and thus has no runout. As for what you can do about veneered panels with runout, the answer is almost nothing since it will show up, albeit subtly, even in unstained finished wood. Sometimes, only choosing the wood correctly will give you the look you want.