Seasonal Wood Movement

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Forum topic by Beeguy posted 12-31-2010 04:54 PM 2413 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Beeguy's profile


178 posts in 3056 days

12-31-2010 04:54 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question pine

I have two questions. Is there a way to predict how much movement occur? I built a large cupboard last summer. It was based on an early 19th Century piece that we saw in a museum. The door was flush mounted with the hinges on the outside. (See my projects for a picture).
I left just enough gap so the door would not bind. Now in the winter the gap has opened around the door. It is made of white pine. I know I can hide this but it would change the design. How do you compensate for this. I could/should have made it a little wider since I was working when the wood was probably at its widest movement, but there would still be a gap during the “dry season”.

Second question: I have a wall finished in solid wood (pine). I made the mistake of attaching three together to get into one area. This was a tight fit in summer but each winter a gap opens up in just one spot. The pine is painted so matching is not a problem. Can any of you think of something that I can slip into this opening to make it less noticable in winter but not cause compression problems in the summer?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

-- Ron, Kutztown, PA "The reward is in the journey."

5 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16229 posts in 3638 days

#1 posted 12-31-2010 05:01 PM

The link below is to a pretty comprehensive wood movement chart. Good luck trying to apply this info to your projects, though. My personal method is called “guess and pray”. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5300 posts in 3132 days

#2 posted 12-31-2010 06:56 PM

Marc Spagnolo (I hope I’ve spelled his name correctly) related a method he uses in his shop, where he keeps a sample of wood in his shop and measures it over various time frames to get an idea how this wood swells and shrinks with the seasons. It is a long procedure but I think that would be a pretty good method of determining how much allowance you’d need to make in your joinery. A more complete (and correct :-) version of Mark’s approach can probably be found on his Wood Whisperer website (a site well worth exploring in itself).

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3068 days

#3 posted 12-31-2010 07:09 PM

Just a little tidbit – if you are trying to cover an area with wood, the best way to do it is to cut the parts beveled so that even as the ‘front’ piece shrinks a bit, you’ll still see the piece behind it so it won’t be so noticeable.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2270 days

#4 posted 12-31-2010 11:29 PM

General rule of thumb for me, and I’m interested in exceptions: The softer woods move much more than harder ones.

I mean softer literally, not categorically. Poplar and pine are the most restless in my experience

-- " 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 Beeguy's profile


178 posts in 3056 days

#5 posted 01-01-2011 01:03 AM

Thanks for the replies and suggestions. You know a few years ago I was going to make a board to measure movement over time. First as always I tend to put things off and then forget. And I remember thinking it would be a few years before I had results. Well guess what, that was a few years ago. My New Year’s resoultion is to make a few of these with different types of wood. It is either that or go on a diet.

-- Ron, Kutztown, PA "The reward is in the journey."

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