Brittle Oak... Sigh.

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Blog entry by Craftsman on the lake posted 03-31-2010 09:49 PM 1220 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been remaking all of my sister’s raised panel Oak doors for her kitchen cabinets. There are about 25 of them and I’ve got them 2/3 completed over the past few months working on and off. Today I was working on three of them; long ones. Rails and stiles came out fine and I had to glue up two boards to make the center raised panels. While I was routing the edge of the raised panels two of them chipped out enough so that I can’t use them. This has happened once before about a month ago too. Seems that sometimes I get a board that is just brittle. It’s red oak and I purchase it un-planed to save money from a very good domestic and exotic wood supplier. Sometimes it’s just brittle. I have the router set at the right speed and the bit is not dull and I’m taking tiny bites. About 1/8” at a time.
My solution is to cut the chip out off and re-glue another section on the doors. I did this once for a door that this happened to awhile back. In this case it’s about 2 1/2 inches. then I’ll re-plane it and rout the new edges.
It’s a small thing but it sure puts a crimp in your plans to move ahead. If anyone has any experience with this and tips beyond hoping for Oak that doesn’t chip much let me know. Thanks.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

10 comments so far

View Kerry Drake's profile

Kerry Drake

167 posts in 3021 days

#1 posted 03-31-2010 09:59 PM

Maybe wetting the wood slightly before hand might help.

-- Kerry Drake, Loudon NH,

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3309 days

#2 posted 03-31-2010 11:43 PM

I had this happen to me only once before. I was making a cabinet with 8 raised oak panels and one of them chipped out bad. I don’t know why…I was using a new freud panel raiser bit.
Like my Dad always used to tell me “to build a great project you must be smarter than the wood”.
I guess the wood was smarter than me that day..

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3894 days

#3 posted 04-01-2010 12:15 AM

I cant explain why this works but it does work for me. It must have something to do with friction.

LV sells two types of dry lubricant(Richilieu and BB sell it too), one for steel on steel, the other for wood on steel. I spray the dry lubricant on the router/shaper bed and fence….........let it dry and ZERO chipping, without it…it always chips

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3309 days

#4 posted 04-01-2010 12:35 AM

I always use paste wax on my router table and fence to reduce friction. In fact, I use it on every tool I have and it does a great job. However, I do not know if this would solve the friction/splitting problem, sometimes it is just the wood.

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1285 posts in 3738 days

#5 posted 04-01-2010 03:31 AM

Think of the amount you are shaving at a time as you would putting wood through the planer. Do you take 1/8” off at a time with difficult woods? Try reducing the amount per pass to about 1/16” or a bit more.

I also think it is necessary to keep the fences and tops slick. The wood must slide through the processing in a very smooth manner. I use talcum powder for all of my tables.

The feed speed should be equal from start to finish. Blade speed to feed rate is important to know. It makes a big difference. Too slow and the wood burns. Too fast and the wood chips and chatters.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2791 posts in 3438 days

#6 posted 04-01-2010 03:34 AM

Well, thanks for the comments. I think I’ll try reducing the amount I take off. That could be the problem. It will sure take awhile doing it but reducing from 1/8” to about 1/16” bite at a time might help.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Mikeyf56's profile


171 posts in 3222 days

#7 posted 04-01-2010 03:51 AM

It might have something to do with the grain and feed direction. I just read an article on it in one of my magazines, and as soon as I find it I’ll try to post a link for you. Maybe that will help?

-- Powered by Smith & Wilson~~~

View Karson's profile


35121 posts in 4401 days

#8 posted 04-01-2010 06:59 AM

The only time I can remember having chipping was when the grain was moving toward the edge, There could have been some internal stress fractures in the wood also like a wind shake where there was a crack but not really visible.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View brandonsommer's profile


33 posts in 3037 days

#9 posted 04-01-2010 07:29 AM

maybe I’m missing something but I think I’ll make an attempt at this anyway, seems like when I make rail and stiles, to avoid chip out I just simply place a backer board behind my workpiece, seems to take care of the problem every time. I’m assuming of course that it’s chipping out on the ends of the pieces?

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2791 posts in 3438 days

#10 posted 04-01-2010 02:00 PM

No, I should have explained better. The chipping is actually a chunk that suddenly pops out along the side not at the end. The pieces I’m doing are long, about 5 ft. but I’m able to keep a good line on them and they run smoothly.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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