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Working with Douglas Fir (similar cost) wood for tables and benches??

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Forum topic by Tstark posted 03-09-2017 10:59 PM 2417 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Tstark

6 posts in 75 days


03-09-2017 10:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: jig question pine finishing

Hello everyone and in advance thank you for taking the time to guide me in the right direction. As this is my first post on a forum ever I thought i would give a little back round.

I have been a handy type man my entire life starting with helping my Dad remodel our home to working construction for a few years. Now that I am in my 30s I have finding that I enjoy building more and more. I have built a table for my family that is custom to the space so it can maximize seats (i have 4 kids) but I feel like I have made a few bad choices and so I am here to ask a few questions to help me with my next table.

I am using Douglas Fir 2×6 from Home Depot to make my table top. I first ripped down all the sides with a table say and then joined them with glue and Kreg Jig to make a nice solid top. I have a few problem areas I would like to fix where it seems that the 2×6 top is separating from my 2×4 boarder, just on 2 corners….

What would be the best way to fix the separation?

What is causing this to happen?

Can I use fresh wood when building something like this or do i need to let it dry out first?

Maybe because the basics of my questions are there good guides to start me off?

I have included some pictures of the over all piece and of the problem areas.

Thank you,
Tstark

-- Thank you Tstark


17 replies so far

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

893 posts in 1429 days


#1 posted 03-09-2017 11:20 PM

Douglas fir is great for framing and basic construction fences etc. It’s too wet and when it drys it shrinks so it’s not good for fine wood working.
You table is still a table right? holds drinks food people I see no problem.
Carry on.

-- Aj

View mrbob's profile

mrbob

182 posts in 200 days


#2 posted 03-09-2017 11:27 PM

I agree with the last poster, it is exterior furniture, you dont need perfection, nature of the wood.

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firefighterontheside

14994 posts in 1488 days


#3 posted 03-09-2017 11:33 PM

Wood shrinks and expands in width, but not length. The wood is separating because the pieces in the middle have shrunk as they dried, but the end pieces stayed the same length. Something had to give. I bet if you look down the long edge of the benches they are bowed in.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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Tstark

6 posts in 75 days


#4 posted 03-09-2017 11:41 PM

I would like to build a nice dinning room table for my Brothers family… What wood would you suggest i use on a budget friendly table? and how long sure i let it dry before building?

-- Thank you Tstark

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firefighterontheside

14994 posts in 1488 days


#5 posted 03-09-2017 11:45 PM

A “cheap” hardwood that can be finished to look like other more expensive woods is poplar. It needs to be somewhere around 8-12% moisture content. If you get it at a hardwood supplier it will likely be kiln dried to around 8%.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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bondogaposis

4256 posts in 1983 days


#6 posted 03-09-2017 11:55 PM

Panel of Doom, a right of passage for nearly every wood worker. Read about it here.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Tstark

6 posts in 75 days


#7 posted 03-09-2017 11:57 PM



A “cheap” hardwood that can be finished to look like other more expensive woods is poplar. It needs to be somewhere around 8-12% moisture content. If you get it at a hardwood supplier it will likely be kiln dried to around 8%.

- firefighterontheside

Thank you

-- Thank you Tstark

View AZWoody's profile

AZWoody

812 posts in 855 days


#8 posted 03-10-2017 12:07 AM

There’s nothing wrong with the type of wood, just getting it dry enough to work with.

If you like the grain and the character, then DF is fine. Look at the markings on the wood and if it says KD, then it’s been kiln dried somewhat but will still need a bit of time to dry down to be used for building furniture.

I agree with what was said earlier that Poplar is a good wood that’s usually dried enough that you only need a shorter acclimation to work with. It’s a good wood to practice on and like also said, can be stained to look like other woods.

For now, you can get a cheap moisture meter. I have used the ones by General, Harbor Freight and Lignomat and the cheap ones hold their own for learning and quick checks.

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Tstark

6 posts in 75 days


#9 posted 03-10-2017 12:12 AM



Panel of Doom, a right of passage for nearly every wood worker. Read about it here.

- bondogaposis

Thank you. Good read

-- Thank you Tstark

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Tstark

6 posts in 75 days


#10 posted 03-10-2017 12:14 AM

This one I actually use in my eat in kitchen area. For some one OCD like me… Could I use a dark color caulking that has the flex in it to seal this gap?

-- Thank you Tstark

View cicerojoe's profile

cicerojoe

63 posts in 3077 days


#11 posted 03-10-2017 12:15 AM

My lumber dealer has “rustic” lumber in cherry and Maple that is inexpensive. I guess this is the stuff that is not the highest grade (not clear), but it is good quality. But you have to go to a hardwood dealer, not a box store.

-- John from the Cherry Valley Studio in NY http://www.cvalleystudio.com

View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

14994 posts in 1488 days


#12 posted 03-10-2017 01:17 AM



This one I actually use in my eat in kitchen area. For some one OCD like me… Could I use a dark color caulking that has the flex in it to seal this gap?

- Tstark

Like Bondo said, everyone has done it. I did….and I used some caulk to fill the gaps on my table.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Ted78's profile

Ted78

291 posts in 1631 days


#13 posted 03-10-2017 01:57 AM

I second (third?) that there isn’t really a problem. Still looks like a beautiful table to me. As was said before wood expands and shrinks as humidity and seasons change but it moves quite a lot across the grain and hardly at all along the grain. The movement is more pronounced in softer woods, though softer woods are also more forgiving in that they will squeeze and unsqueeze a bit more before cracking or tearing things apart.. The way to avoid this in the future is to keep this in mind when you are designing pieces. Remember the wider a piece of wood is across the grain the father is will move (that’s why the benches look fine ,but a gap is appearing in the table.) so make sure it has somewhere to go. You can minimize this in interior pieces by finishing all sides of a piece and keeping temp and humidity levels about the same in the house all year, but with outdoor furniture it’s going a move quite a bit. It’s why picnic tables and decks etc, have gaps between each board. I like to think of wood like it’s a bunch of plastic drinking straws as that make up the board. It might seem silly but it becomes apparent why rip saws and crosscut saws are different, and why gluing end grain doesn’t work very well, and why wood splits apart so easily along the grain, and it’s stable in one direction but not the other direction.

-- Ted

View WDHLT15's profile

WDHLT15

1634 posts in 2108 days


#14 posted 03-13-2017 12:04 PM

Construction lumber from the lumber stores is only dried to 19% moisture content. On most of the boards you might see a stamp “KD19”, this means kiln dried to 19%. Wood for indoor furniture should be below 10%. So, your wood was not dry enough for indoor use, and there was a good bit more shrinkage as your table dried in place. Second, you created a cross grain situation with the border. The table and the end border have the long grain perpendicular to each other, and each is shrinking in the opposite direction, creating the gap that is opening up.

There are ways to attach the breadboard ends and still allow the wide top to to move with changes in humidity without opening up gaps at the joint. Google, “How to attach a breadboard end” and there is a lot of info on the technique, even some tutorial videos.

There is no way to “fix” what you have now except to take the end breadboards off and re-attach them using the techniques that will allow movement of the top through the seasonal changes in humidity that wood goes through.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln. hamsleyhardwood.com

View TObenhuber's profile

TObenhuber

149 posts in 1224 days


#15 posted 03-13-2017 06:51 PM


Construction lumber from the lumber stores is only dried to 19% moisture content. On most of the boards you might see a stamp “KD19”, this means kiln dried to 19%. Wood for indoor furniture should be below 10%. So, your wood was not dry enough for indoor use, and there was a good bit more shrinkage as your table dried in place. Second, you created a cross grain situation with the border. The table and the end border have the long grain perpendicular to each other, and each is shrinking in the opposite direction, creating the gap that is opening up.

There are ways to attach the breadboard ends and still allow the wide top to to move with changes in humidity without opening up gaps at the joint. Google, “How to attach a breadboard end” and there is a lot of info on the technique, even some tutorial videos.

There is no way to “fix” what you have now except to take the end breadboards off and re-attach them using the techniques that will allow movement of the top through the seasonal changes in humidity that wood goes through.

- WDHLT15

Agreed. I use all of these cheap construction grade lumbers all the time. I’ve found patience is the key. Get a cheap moisture meter, bring it to the hardware store, poke the pins into the treated lumber, a whooping 50%-70%+. The Pine and DF will be between 10%-20%. Then try it on a piece of wood that has been inside your house for a while and you will find it to be around 5%-10%. I have a few 2X’s in my house that are easy to get to and they are usually around 7%-8% here in Virginia.

What is most important is matching this percentage to the percentage of the environment you planning on placing the final product. For the exterior projects, check the moisture content of your wooden deck or railing. Most likely you will never notice a couple moisture meter pin holes if you do it some where you don’t normally look. If the deck is around 10% then wait for your lumber to get to 10%. If you are impatient like me, you can probably slide with a 5%ish difference.

I got this one for under $30.
General Tools MMD4E Moisture Meter, Pin Type, Digital LCD

Just remember movement will happen, no preventing it. Your pieces will change from the day you build it. Some of the character is what happens over time. Beautiful table BTW!!! Keep up the GREAT work!!!

-- Travis, Virginia, www.facebook.com/CreativeWoodworksHybla

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