I must admit that before working at this workshop, I didn't really like natural edge. Funny really seeing as the likes of George Nakashima and Wharton Esherick, to name only a few, are my heros. To use it, it has to be used well. Too much and you're teetering toward that horrible 'rustic' appearance. So for this project, a picture frame for a wedding present, I surprised myself that I decided to embrace that waney edge gamble. Initially I wanted to have two sides bookmatched, with some fascinating burr. Unfortunately natural edge limits you to specific types of wood. Elm is ideal because it generally has little or no sap wood. (the lighter coloured wood between the bark and old trunk of the tree.) Sap wood rots and crumbles, it can be pretty unstable, so best avoided for this situation.
We looked far and wide for a really special bit of timber that could be bookmatched, but with no luck. However, having put together the chosen piece I think bookmatched could have been borderline rustic. At the end of the day, the frame is to compliment the picture.
Some sly little jointing and chiseling had to be done to let the natural edge meet the other edge at the mitre corner. Otherwise it was straight forward with a super sharp plane and a 45 degree shooting board.
I slipped some 0 bisciuts into the corners, just in case. Tentatively clamping up each corner at a time, making sure it's all square, the mitres closed up perfectly, even the natural edge joints.
Both for asthetics and additional strength some kerf joints were added in a smart contrasting veneer. Once the frame had been smoothed out, sanded and oiled the effect worked brilliantly. I positioned the burr so it will sit just onto the pictures mount at the bottom right hand corner.