All Replies on Question: Board glue up - Wide or Narrow boards?

  • Advertise with us
View Milo's profile

Question: Board glue up - Wide or Narrow boards?

by Milo
posted 07-03-2012 01:37 AM

21 replies so far

View bruc101's profile


1200 posts in 3571 days

#1 posted 07-03-2012 02:27 AM

I agree with using the narrower boards. We’ve been lucky over the years using wide boards, especially on wood countertops but, a lot of the stability is in the joinery and how they’re finished. I’m not a box builder, but an admirer of the ones I see on LJ,so I would think wide boards would be ok on them.

-- Bruce Free Plans

View bullhead1's profile


228 posts in 2278 days

#2 posted 07-03-2012 02:57 AM

Wide/narrow dosen’t make a difference to me. I put clean edges on the boards I want to use with a glue line rip blade. I then lay them out, switch them every way until they look good, apply tite bond, clamp them tight and go to bed!

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2218 days

#3 posted 07-03-2012 03:03 AM

Asthetically, most times the fewer joints you have the better as matching grain patterns is usually a challenge. Also, you want the boards to all plane the same way. Having some design feature in a piece that keeps wide surfaces from cupping means that you don’t have to do Norm’s method, which it seems to me is going to make the piece look like it came from IKEA.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View waho6o9's profile


8211 posts in 2606 days

#4 posted 07-03-2012 03:18 AM

alternate the end grain patterns like the one with the sharpie markings.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3509 days

#5 posted 07-03-2012 03:32 AM

I would use boards around 5 to 6 or 7 inches wide. They all dont have to be the same width, but the grain should match as close as possible. Also the alternate end grain is the best way to do it to prevent cupping.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Joe Lyddon's profile (online now)

Joe Lyddon

10125 posts in 4081 days

#6 posted 07-03-2012 03:50 AM

I might add to all of the preceding GOOD suggestions…

You may have better success if you glue no more that TWO boards at a time…
... by doing so, the sliding around problem may be averted…
Lets say you have a top laid out to be 5 boards, 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5.
... glue 1 & 2 together making sure they are together good…
... glue 3 & 4 together…
... glue 5 onto the 3-4 group… and finally,
... glue the 1-2 group to the 3-4-5 group…
... you get the idea… It’s easier to control 2 boards at a time instead of 5 at the same time.

Sections can be thickness planed prior to the final glue up… if required… to touch it up.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View jacob34's profile


465 posts in 2293 days

#7 posted 07-03-2012 04:21 AM

I had never thought about this question but as I have not glued up a lot of boards I am interested in how this plays out. My vote would be for wider boards but I would assume the purpose or project would have something to affect the size of the boards glued up.

-- so a bear and a rabbit are sitting on a log

View Don W's profile

Don W

18756 posts in 2597 days

#8 posted 07-03-2012 10:18 AM

gluing narrower board is a bit more stable, but I think the wider boards look better. Either works if done properly.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 2531 days

#9 posted 07-03-2012 10:21 AM

Who6o9 has provided a very good answer – it is in pictures!

The theory is that if any cupping occurs, narrow boards will cup less than wide boards, so narrow boards should be better. Wide or narrow though, you should alternating the grain as shown.

I’ve seen some cabinets done with pine that is nearly 5” wide and no problems (yet). So it comes down how much you expect cupping to be a problem against the asthetics and better grain patterns of wider planks.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 3348 days

#10 posted 07-03-2012 11:13 AM

Just FYI, the reason I ask if I got my hands on some nice poplar, and some of the boards are WIDE, some over 12 inches. The plan is to use to make a blanket chest.

Thank you all for the feedback!

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2277 days

#11 posted 07-03-2012 12:10 PM

I asked the same question here once after my father and grandfather scolded me for using wide boards. Apparently ripping and gluing is still the preferred method. I also REALLY like Joe’s suggestion. I have been doing that a lot lately and it makes glue ups so much easier. His last sentence is the reason I do it. I have enough clamps to glue all pairs at the same time. I then send them through the planer if need be to clean them up. I only have a 12.5” planer, so there is no way I could send a whole table top through. After they are all planed, I make the finial glue up


View Don W's profile

Don W

18756 posts in 2597 days

#12 posted 07-03-2012 12:39 PM

If poplar is dry, I wouldn’t cut it down for a blanket chest. poplar is pretty stable once dry and I’ve glued 14” poplar together without any issues.

To me, cutting and gluing narrow boards give the piece a box store look. If its going to be painted, it doesn’t matter, you’ll never see it.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2315 days

#13 posted 07-03-2012 12:46 PM

OK, here’s one for ya…
In the pictures shown, we’re looking at plain sawn boards with arcs of growth rings. What if you use quarter sawn where the growth rings are more perpendicular to the face? Would those be less prone to cupping? More stable? Less stable? How about expansion/contraction?

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

978 posts in 2264 days

#14 posted 07-03-2012 01:12 PM

I too am building a “test” blanket chest from poplar. The boards are 10” wide down to 6”. I used clamping cauls and the all came out great. I had to take them into the house to prevent warping due to the high humidity in FL.
My garage is a steam bath at times.
I have worked out a WB dye using General Finishes that makes the test pieces look like cherry.

-- Jerry

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 3348 days

#15 posted 07-04-2012 01:00 AM

Gerald, so your saying that you glued up 10” and 6” boards?

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View Newage Neanderthal's profile

Newage Neanderthal

190 posts in 2579 days

#16 posted 07-04-2012 01:41 AM

I understand that the thin strip idea seems to make since in theory, I also understand that my comments might piss some people off. Just that disclaimer, not trying to offend, just to my Marine Corps mentality of being rather blunt and to the point. There is no reason at all to cut down a wide board. Go get the widest, mostly likely to cup piece of wood you can find (think home center 1X12 pine), plane it flat and dovetail it into a box. Then put it through every kind of humidity swing you can and see if you can find any cupping. When properly joined the wood simply can’t cup, that’s why frame and panel doors, bread board ends, back batons, etc where designed. We have a lot of museums around where I live, and I have noticed that all of the old pieces were made with single board sides, I’m talking 24” plus wide pieces, sure they live in a museum now, but they didn’t start out there. They were in DC, Williamsburg, philly, etc in the days before climate control. No cupping. If you get cupping once the piece is joined, you either designed it wrong or built it wrong, no slicing boards into strips will help that.

-- . @NANeanderthal on twitter

View a1Jim's profile


117128 posts in 3606 days

#17 posted 07-04-2012 01:59 AM

I think thinner boards are better when your considering wood movement ,glue lines help eliminate cupping . Many times I’ll rip wider boards and glue them back together just to prevent cupping. I know good old Norm suggested to alternate the direction of the wood as waho609 has suggested in his first illustration but I’ve found that it’s not necessary when using boards that are smaller in width or boards that have been ripped and glued back together to maintain the wood grain pattern.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 3348 days

#18 posted 07-04-2012 02:43 AM

Well, if Jim recommends it too… ;)

Thanks gang, this has been a REALLY interesting conversation.

I believe that, just for times sake, I am going with wide boards. This IS an experimental project after all, and I am expecting to work out the kinks on this box. When I build the 2nd through 5th, I’ll be using my cherry wood, so I want to get it right the first time. Also, that wood is going to force me to glue up small boards into wide boards, so why not see what happens the other way this time, eh?

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View waho6o9's profile


8211 posts in 2606 days

#19 posted 07-04-2012 03:02 AM

Good luck Milo, you should do fine in your glue ups. And, you’re smart to do a practice box
before you use expensive lumber.

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2413 days

#20 posted 07-04-2012 09:33 AM

If you are worried about cuping of a glued-up panel, there are joinery options for the under-mounting that will help: Simplest is Battens with oversized screw holes…Stronges is probably a sliding dovetail.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

978 posts in 2264 days

#21 posted 07-04-2012 03:27 PM

Yes. I had different sized lumber. I also had to use a couple of 2-3’’ boards. All of the panels are flat and the joints are all but invisable. I jointed them with my Millers-Falls #18. I could not have done any of this had I not read a lot in WW books, visiting WW forums, asking advise and practice, practice.
I feel it is better to seek advise from great wood workers than muddle through things until one figures it out/

-- Jerry

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics