Wood bow dilema

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Forum topic by SAV posted 11-27-2015 12:27 PM 739 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 920 days

11-27-2015 12:27 PM

Good day, I have 4 pieces of red oak thats 20 years old from a customer that wants a table top done. 2 of the pieces I can use but the other 2 on the ends in the pics are bowed. He wants to keep the wood as thick as possible and I have already planned off a 1/2” trying to get them flat but I am not having any luck. My question is: Does anyone have any tips on getting these boards flat, or is it a lost cause? Should I just order 2 new boards that are already squared up?

5 replies so far

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2514 days

#1 posted 11-27-2015 12:43 PM

Wellll, unfortunately there are options, but they all include some sort of compromise that you would have to probably run by the customer.

1. First off, stop planing. If you are using an electric planer you are just pushing it through, and it will nicely follow the bow while making the boards thinner.

2. You could run them through a jointer if they are not any wider than your current jointer, or if you have access to one. Mine is six inches, and although it hates it when I run a 5.9” board through it, slow and easy I can get bowed wood up to that width planed flat. Does make it thinner.

3. Your next option would be hand planing, which would take time, and you must have a good hand plane, but taking off the bow is totally possible with a hand plane. Many very talented and knowledgeable people on this site would recommend this as the number one option. For me, my back would never put up with planing off four boards of that size.

All these will make it thinner, of course since you will be planing off the up bow in the center on one side, and the end bows on the other side.

4. A last option that I thought of, that might stabilize it enough to work would be to rip them into strips. So, let’s say the boards are 6” wide, I would rip them down into 2” wide strips, and then reglue them up with the middle strip reversed. It will allow you to clamp a little of the bow out, and then let it dry. This will stabilize it somewhat with reversed grain now on each glued up board, and then plane them down until the bowed ends and center disappear.

That’s all I got! I know there are some other answers.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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5 posts in 920 days

#2 posted 11-27-2015 12:51 PM

Thanks for the tips Paul!
My jointer is also only 6” and the boards are over 7” so I am kind of stuck on options 3 and 4. Think I will just try to talk him into getting 2 new boards.
Thanks again man

View dhazelton's profile


2767 posts in 2296 days

#3 posted 11-27-2015 12:53 PM

You could do a glue up with the two bowed boards in the center and shim the ends up so the bow is high in the center and the ends are as close to even with the straight boards as you can get. Then run the whole thing though a big drum sander. On the top and ends it would look good then. If no access to a drum sander then maybe a belt sander to get the high spots down and hand plane the whole thing.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2689 days

#4 posted 11-28-2015 01:01 AM

FYI I have jointed a lot of 7” boards on a 6” jointer. But your boards are already getting pretty thin.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View SAV's profile


5 posts in 920 days

#5 posted 11-28-2015 01:04 AM

Thank you guys for the ideas. Appreciate it.

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