Wondering if this is considered good or bad? Working around knots

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Forum topic by JasonD posted 12-22-2010 04:40 AM 1083 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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180 posts in 2281 days

12-22-2010 04:40 AM

I know that in a perfect world we just buy boards without bad knots or buy enough to be able to work around them. For some of us, that’s not always possible.

Anyway, I’m building a bench top by laminating hand-planed boards face to face. I’ve come across a couple of knots that are really tough and were making planing a real pain. The average size of the knots is about the size of a couple of quarters side by side.

Since the knots are on the face that will be part of the glue joint and not visible, I marked out a rectangle using a marking knife and square. Then, I used a mortising chisel to cut out a mortise where I had marked the rectangle. Next, I cut a piece of the same species to fit snugly into the mortise and clamped / glued it into place to fill the void where the knot was; making sure the grain was running the same direction as the board I’m inserting it into. Once the glue is dry, I plane it level with the rest of the board and proceed to plane the entire board flat so that it can be glued up with the rest of the top.

The “repair” is on a part of the board that won’t ever be seen. I was wondering about wood movement issues, but since the species is the same and the grain is running the same way, I’d think that the “repair” piece would shrink and swell along with the board it’s being added to.

I’m just curious if this is something that would be considered okay. Are there other things I should be worried about? Or am I just over-thinking something simple?

6 replies so far

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 2430 days

#1 posted 12-22-2010 06:34 AM

Jason, I think what you’re doing is perfectly reasonable.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View JasonD's profile


180 posts in 2281 days

#2 posted 12-22-2010 07:01 AM

Thanks! I’ve only been doing woodworking for a little under a year and everything I’ve learned has been from books, this site, and a lot of trial and error.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2270 days

#3 posted 12-22-2010 07:16 AM

I think what you did is one of those things that you can always feel good about. Cool. You did it because you could.

Was it necessary? probably not, er, knot. But what the hey?

As for wood movement, no problem. Wood movement has to be accounted for if the wood is trapped in some manner. I assume this would be attached to a frame of some kind with oversize holes—it will move as one, not as individual boards.

There are lots of ways to deal with knots, and you may have carved out your signature method! Some excavate and fill them with epoxy; some install a dutchman, some fixate on getting them organized in some balanced fashion on the project overall, some buy wood sans knots.

The beautiful thing here is you used your skills to solve a perceived problem and the result is an improvement. I think you had a blue ribbon day!

-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View SnowyRiver's profile


51452 posts in 2900 days

#4 posted 12-22-2010 04:20 PM

Sounds like a good plan Jason. Its also good practice for the time that you make a patch like this and it will show.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2300 days

#5 posted 12-22-2010 04:30 PM

Jason, good for you for your effort in fixing the knot problem… Just last night I was hand planing a small board for a box lid that had a big knot in it. The knot was actually really neat looking and I thought it would add to the character of the small box… I spent damn near an hour trying to get the top perfect and it just kept getting worse. I finally walked it over to the wood stove and tossed it in…

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Domer's profile


252 posts in 2786 days

#6 posted 12-22-2010 10:56 PM

I saw a video with Sam Maloof. He said he told his customers that the knots cost extra.


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