Wood Expansion in Box Tops and Bottoms

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Forum topic by TheLastDeadMouse posted 07-07-2015 12:28 PM 635 views 0 times favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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35 posts in 798 days

07-07-2015 12:28 PM

I’m designing this box as a bocce ball carrier for my brother as a best man’s gift. It’ll be made from curly maple, padauk and wenge to match the set of bottle carriers I made him last year. Overall dimensions are 10.75×20.25×6.

I’m concerned with wood movement on the tops and bottoms though. The top I’m concerned about a bit, but I’m thinking I might be able to get away with it since the padauk is quarter sawn. The bottom I know can’t be glued in solid and should float. (Un)Fortunately I have a 10” wide piece of curly maple to use for the bottom which will make the issue even worse. I still want to be sure that the bottom still feels very solid though, especially considering the weight of the bocce balls (around 18 pounds). I’d also like the bottom panel to be flush with the sides, so I know I’ll need to make the rabbit wider on the sides to allow expansion. Since this is an item that’s going to be taken outside and laid on the ground I’m worried that the groove will get filled with dirt or sand and be nearly impossible to clean.

EDIT: I nearly forgot to credit majeagle1 with the design of the box, I saw his original here (, mine is just his design with the dimensions massaged a bit.

1 reply so far

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779 posts in 2426 days

#1 posted 07-07-2015 05:54 PM

First, those carriers are fantastic! Nice work and beautiful materials.

I don’t think you’ll have any issues with the quart sawn narrow stock.

If I understand correctly you want the bottom floating in a dado (with the bottom rabbeted, guessing on the top). Be sure to make that thick enough to support the weight. While I haven’t personally planned for a specific amount of movement in any project I’ve done I have of course planned for “some” movement. You can get scientific about it by looking up the maple in a chart and using the appropriate geographical region(s) to determine the seasonal variance. The larger that spread the harder your job is, of course. I’m assuming you’re planning to glue and dowel (or pin) the center and let the edges float. That cuts each edge’s movement in half, as if you have two 5” wide boards. I don’t think you’ll have much of a problem with that width, meaning you won’t be looking at large expansion gaps. I wonder if you’re worrying about a non-problem with the dirt? If the rabbet is at the top, that’s about 1/4” from the bottom surface or so, meaning dirt would probably not jump up into the dado casually.

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