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Forum topic by SammyT posted 02-04-2018 02:24 AM 3021 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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SammyT

23 posts in 823 days


02-04-2018 02:24 AM

Topic tags/keywords: cabin furniture cold weather hot weather wood lumber warp shrink

Hi, I’m up in Alaska and I’m going to be building a dining table (possibly with a leaf) and somewhat easily moveable. The issue I foresee is that, this cabin will be vacant and unheated all winter, which can get super cold. I can see the table/wood getting warped and/or shrink/expand as the seasons change.

Are there any recommendations one what kind of lumber I should be using or maybe going with a thicker cut of wood? Mind you that pine, birch, and cotton wood are usually the only local woods we have around here. Everything else is insanely expensive. Trying to also, not spend an arm and a leg. But, I’m willing to go with a harder wood if that’ll help in this scenario. Thanks in advance.


8 replies so far

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

4032 posts in 2257 days


#1 posted 02-04-2018 03:06 AM

Of the woods you mention, birch is the most stable. Thickness doesn’t matter too much…watch the grain orientation. If you can have it custom sawn, then get it quarter sawn or rift sawn. This will produce boards that will be quite stable when properly dry for your area. Solid wood of any sort does NOT do well going from -50° F to 60° F in a matter of hours, but if you build it to accommodate the inevitable movement, it will at least hang together.

Design the joinery to be mechanical so glue failures are not lurking. This makes a large panel like a table top kinda challenging, but doable. One technique I use effectively for outdoor furniture is called generically board and batten construction. The edges of maybe three wide boards are long tongue and deep groove but not glued. On the underside a stopped french dovetail (a sliding dovetail groove) is machined in 3 or 4 places across the grain and into the top of a batten and then the top is assembled, sliding the parts onto the loose double dovetail. The battens become mechanically part of the top to keep it flat. Attach legs to aprons with pegged tenons. You could used tusked tenons for stretchers. Secure the top to the aprons with Z fasteners to accommodate movement yet be strong enough to pick the rest of the table up.

DanK

Edit: if the cabin is rustic, go with a big 2” live edge slab (quartersawn with pith) and four 4” branches tenoned through the top and wedged. Done.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL http://www.kragerwoodworking.weebly.com One should always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible.

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

4204 posts in 2332 days


#2 posted 02-04-2018 07:02 AM

http://www.wood-database.com/alaska-paper-birch/

This article states Alaskan paper birch can be hard to glue.

https://www.commerce.alaska.gov/web/ded/DEV/ForestProducts/PaperBirch.aspx

Craig’s List under materials may have something for your table building.

https://anchorage.craigslist.org/mat/d/alaska-birch-live-edge-slabs/6451056217.html

Disclaimer: In all the years I’ve lived in Alaska I never use Alaskan birch. I have seen some cabinets made of Alaskan birch and they had some warped doors. No way to know why. Could be how it was handled or dried.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View jonah's profile

jonah

1721 posts in 3322 days


#3 posted 02-04-2018 01:29 PM

If the wood is properly dried, the temperature swings won’t really matter. It’s the extreme lack of humidity that will do damage. Dan had some nice joinery tips. I don’t think a normally assembled tabletop will fail, but I have never lived anywhere with those extreme humidity swings. I’d think the relative humidity of winter in Alaska is comparable to the high desert in the western US. Be sure to plan for serious seasonal movement and you’ll be fine.

View mahdee's profile

mahdee

3888 posts in 1790 days


#4 posted 02-04-2018 03:26 PM

Agree with others. I lived up there a few years and the problem is going to be the lack of humidity during winter months. Just have to allow for movements. Maybe use drop leaf instead of expandable table.

-- earthartandfoods.com

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

4204 posts in 2332 days


#5 posted 02-04-2018 07:29 PM

Relative Humidity in Alaska

https://www.currentresults.com/Weather/Alaska/humidity-annual.php

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View SammyT's profile

SammyT

23 posts in 823 days


#6 posted 02-04-2018 08:12 PM

Thank you everyone for your time and comments. I’ll take the board and batten technique into consideration once the person decides on a design also the moisture content of the wood as well.

AlaskaGuy, I’m currently working on a project with birch slabs but, never worked with birch cuts so I have no idea about the glue up as well. I haven’t seen any rough lumber for birch either, just slabs. So, maybe that’s saying something. Thank you for those articles and next time I’m looking for slabs I’ll hit that couple/company up. So, thank you for that as well.

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

4204 posts in 2332 days


#7 posted 02-04-2018 09:03 PM


Thank you everyone for your time and comments. I ll take the board and batten technique into consideration once the person decides on a design also the moisture content of the wood as well.

AlaskaGuy, I m currently working on a project with birch slabs but, never worked with birch cuts so I have no idea about the glue up as well. I haven t seen any rough lumber for birch either, just slabs. So, maybe that s saying something. Thank you for those articles and next time I m looking for slabs I ll hit that couple/company up. So, thank you for that as well.

- SammyT


I’m pretty sure there is a saw mill just north of Wasilla the mills birch of various sizes and they make some paneling and flooring too. If I can find out exactly who that is I’ll PM you.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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SammyT

23 posts in 823 days


#8 posted 02-05-2018 01:39 AM

Thanks!

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