Wood Movement #1: The Power Of Wood

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Blog entry by Todd A. Clippinger posted 12-24-2007 03:50 AM 7729 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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It Can’t Be Denied-

The power of wood movement can’t be denied. It is so powerful, ancient peoples used this characteristic to quarry stones with which they built their cities.

Usually we think of wood expansion tangentially which makes a board wider. Sometimes wood will just twist.

We ran into an instance recently where a beam twisted so bad that it broke the metal bracket that is holding it in place.

Twisted Beam

Perhaps the beam would have just expanded along it’s width but it has the weight of a full sunroom structure on it. So possibly it diverted its’ energy and twisted to relieve the need for expansion. I have dealt with enough framing lumber and beams to know how bad they can twist, often dramatically enough to render them useless.

Here is an image showing the metal bracket and how it is supposed to look.

Metal Beam Bracket

And here you can see that it is broken cleanly on the welds.

Broken Metal Beam Bracket

The brackets are only 4 years old and under shelter of the room that it supports. I suppose that some may question the welds but it is clear how much the beam has twisted and the wood has won out over the metal.

This isn’t a woodworking example in the same context of most LJ projects, but it does demonstrate the power of wood movement.

Peace, Love, and Woodworking

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

15 comments so far

View rpmurphy509's profile


288 posts in 3823 days

#1 posted 12-24-2007 05:08 AM

Pretty amazing how wood can twist, warp, bend or otherwise do what we don’t expect it to.
Aside from the ‘expansion’ we plan into our projects that is.

-- Still learning everything

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4369 days

#2 posted 12-24-2007 05:14 AM

Who says you on’t have to take movement into consideration in what you make.

In some cases we believe that a tight corset will hold everything in. That may not be the case. We may have an explosion.

-- 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 JasonH's profile


136 posts in 3797 days

#3 posted 12-24-2007 05:16 AM

Wow, impressive!

So, what did you do to remediate the problem?

-- Living on the square...

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4068 days

#4 posted 12-24-2007 05:57 AM

We just welded it to follow the angle and bolted it back on. It is required to have the bracket but as you can see the beam would probably not go anywhere except under seismic circumstances. I don’t cut corners though and I would put the bracket on even if not required.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View scott shangraw's profile

scott shangraw

513 posts in 4038 days

#5 posted 12-24-2007 06:05 AM

It’s amazing how much wood can always move,It’s something you always have to keep in mind when doing furniture.I’ve seen some great pieces basically blown apart because the maker did not adress wood movement.Thanks for the reminder and example.

-- Scott NM,

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4108 days

#6 posted 12-24-2007 07:17 AM

Todd -

The strength of wood is truly amazing. Gives you a healthy respect for movement in timber no matter what the size of the project. Great craftsmanship!


View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4023 posts in 4033 days

#7 posted 12-24-2007 07:33 AM

Thanks, Todd. Nothing beats a picture to say a thousand words, and put some drama behind the example.

and Karson – the other day you spoke to a potential turner and branch-wood user about “reaction wood”. I had never heard that term, but it certainly make sense and might keep someone out of hot water if thinking about planking out a big branch.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3862 days

#8 posted 12-24-2007 08:28 AM

no offence but the bracket looks “home made”

Hopefully “Disney” didnt buy the same ones?

Thanks for the heads up!!

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

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3843 days

#9 posted 12-24-2007 11:46 AM

That is a stunning example of the power of the wood movement.

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 3849 days

#10 posted 12-24-2007 01:16 PM

great post thanks for sharing it . happy holidays to you and yours

View patrick m's profile

patrick m

197 posts in 3782 days

#11 posted 12-24-2007 02:37 PM

Awesome!!!!! WOod kIcKs A*s … For instance did you know that trees made out of wood, work as polarity magnetic gravitational devices, that help our universe stay intact. It’s true! I find metal and welding not unlike working with wood in some cases. It’s good to know how to weld and work with metals, when trying to solve problems with wood. OK , I JUST WOKE UP. ONLY ON FIEST COFFEE…. maybe the polarity theory has some flaws .


-- PJM.`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸ ><((((º> ""BY HAMMER AND HAND ALL ARTS DO STAND""1785-1974 nyc Semper Fi, Patrick M

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4268 days

#12 posted 12-24-2007 06:18 PM

That is some real power!

I don’t mean to be critical, but a properly welded joint would not have done that.

It looks like it was only tacked at the corners.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4068 days

#13 posted 12-25-2007 04:04 AM

It had a bead the full length. We could have used Simpson brackets. They are hurricane/seismic anchors. They hold things together but they are thin. We wanted a bracket that looked structural and by all means should have been. The Simpson Strong Tie would have bent, but on our bracket the welds broke. We had it welded at a local metal fabrication shop.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3843 days

#14 posted 12-26-2007 10:40 AM

Wow. I am humbled every time when I think I have “tamed” it. Its also amazing what trees will do when they grow… roots which push up roads, buildings, etc.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Grumpy's profile


23841 posts in 3820 days

#15 posted 12-29-2007 10:44 AM

Thats the power of Mother nature for you Todd.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

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