bowed table top

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Blog entry by brucebaird1 posted 12-18-2013 03:06 PM 1324 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am making a small (36”x32”) art table for a young grandchild. I bought kiln and air dried oak and used biscuit joinery to make the table top. It was dead flat after joining and glue up and remained dead flat until yesterday when I brushed a coat of primer in preparation of painting a gloss acrylic finish. This morning I put 2 coats of the gloss paint on the top and tonight when I was going to put the finish coat on I noticed that the top has bowed significantly (1/2 to 3/4 inch) in center. I have not connected the top to the legs and rails and I plan to use attachments to allow for movement. 2 questions:
1) What have I done wrong? I have made a number of tables, several much larger than this one, without this problem.
2) What, if anything, can I do to get this top back close to dead flat?

3 comments so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


5739 posts in 2930 days

#1 posted 12-18-2013 06:59 PM

Well sometimes this just happens. If it was dead flat to begin with, that tells me your jointing and clamping techniques are sound.
Air dried lumber can be anywhere from 10-15% moisture content, whereas kiln dried is usually 6-8%. The more moisture the wood contains, the more it will shrink and move once you bring it indoors.

Coating both the top and bottom of tabletops can help the wood lose moisture more evenly.

Also, using quartersawn lumber when possible will yield a flatter, more stable top.

At this point, I wouldn’t re-mill it. Just clamp it to the table base and see if it will flatten out. If it does, just attach it with some figure 8 fasteners and you should be okay. A 1/2” bow is a pretty decent amount, but you will be surprised how it flattens out with the figure 8 fasteners.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View matts_dad's profile


61 posts in 2776 days

#2 posted 12-18-2013 07:23 PM

— Neat trick! — making a wooden snow saucer.

The only luck Iv’e had trying to straighten out panels which have warped after being glued up is to put them cupped side down on the cement cellar floor. After a couple of days the cupped side would absorb enough moisture to expand and straighten out somewhat. Then I would quickly move the panel away from the floor, seal all sides and cross my fingers.

You might want to try to get some relief this way before going on to the figure 8 fasteners.

— Happy sledding! —

-- Barry

View casual1carpenter's profile


354 posts in 2593 days

#3 posted 12-18-2013 08:10 PM

bruce, did you coat both the top and bottom of the table top evenly / both the same?

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