Flatten twisted wood without planing???

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Forum topic by Chris posted 02-10-2016 08:02 PM 488 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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68 posts in 790 days

02-10-2016 08:02 PM

I have a handful of 100+year old fir from an old barn that was being torn down. I want to create a table top of out the planks, but a few pieces of the wood have a decent twist in it. Not huge twist – but enough to make it NOT flat and hard to glue up.

I do not want to plane it down as with a bit of light sanding, I can keep the “patina” as well as some interesting character distress to the surface.

I was thinking about taking a circular saw and cutting some lines 3/4 of the way though the wood on the back side to allow the wood to fan out a bit and then fix it flat by routing in some butterflies – but have no idea if this would actually work. Wondering if anyone has a magic solution to this? Any and all ideas would be much appreciated!


-- designer by education, wood working hack by choice

6 replies so far

View HokieKen's profile


1519 posts in 557 days

#1 posted 02-10-2016 09:50 PM

Depends on how thick the wood is. If it’s 3/4, you might be able to coax it fairly flat with some relief cuts but I doubt if butterflies will keep it that way. Would probably require some structure underneath to pull the twist out. Flattening a cup is one thing, straightening twist is much harder. If it’s 8/4 your probably out of luck. You might be able to rip it into thinner strips and glue it back up flipping every other strip to alternate grain direction but then your grain pattern won’t be consistent.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View pintodeluxe's profile


4824 posts in 2231 days

#2 posted 02-11-2016 12:15 AM

You could screw the planks to cleats with slotted screw holes. That may pull the boards flat.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View NDakota's profile


68 posts in 964 days

#3 posted 02-11-2016 12:34 AM

I build with barnwood all the time and I think Hokie is correct. If its a top can’t you plane the bottom, unseen, side and get some twist out? If you have some extra plane some, I bet you’ll be surprised how nice it looks without dirt and grime! I very seldom build any furniture without planing it usually has color you cant find anywhere

View rwe2156's profile


2111 posts in 899 days

#4 posted 02-11-2016 04:04 PM

I recently watched this video that might be useful.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Chris 's profile


68 posts in 790 days

#5 posted 02-11-2016 05:21 PM

ok – I am going to try to plane one of my really bad pieces and see how it turns out. I did do a side by side comparison with a cut piece and one just sanded and like the look of the sanded much better – but I just used some crappy dye I had laying around.

Will let you all know how it turns out. Thank you for all the advice, and I did see that video :)


-- designer by education, wood working hack by choice

View LiveEdge's profile


476 posts in 1038 days

#6 posted 02-11-2016 05:22 PM

In a similar manner to ripping a cupped board and regluing, could you consider chopping the twisted boards into shorter pieces and then mixing and matching as you glue up? Chopping a twisted board in half will remove at least half the twist. You won’t have full length boards for the table, but it might actually look nice with barnwood.

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