Designing a Sushi Tray - wood movement problems?

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Forum topic by jayman7 posted 11-16-2011 02:21 AM 2284 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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218 posts in 2929 days

11-16-2011 02:21 AM

Topic tags/keywords: sushi

I’m planning on making a couple of simple maple sushi trays, the ones that’s just a single board with two runners on the bottom.

I’m concerned about the two runners going perpendicular to the main board. Will there be any expansion problems if I just glued it on? The main board will expand and contract but the runners will prevent that. Will it crack? Or will the board and runners be small enough that it wont be an issue? I’m thinking about a 9” x 6” board.

Thanks for any insights!

4 replies so far

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 3348 days

#1 posted 11-16-2011 02:50 AM

Very likely there will be but it depends on several things.

If the wood is in equilibrium with the relative humidity and the RH remains constant there will be no problem (No expansion/contraction will occur but not too likely).
If the RH does not remain constant (very likely) the wood will expand or contract maybe 10 to 100 times as much different between the main board and the runner (Maple should be anout 20 times).
The expansion/contraction will be slower but not eliminated if a finish is applied.
If the top board is quarter sawn the difference in expansion/contraction will be less.
Different wood species expand/contract at different rates.

So use quarter sawn Greenheart wood with several heavy coats of moisture impervious finish and minimize the RH variation.

Or don’t glue the runner but use some kind of ‘slip’ joint.

View CaptainSkully's profile


1408 posts in 2982 days

#2 posted 11-16-2011 07:21 PM

The expansion will be a very small percentage of the width. For my 40” wide table, the wood moves 1/4” on each side, which could cause problems with the joinery (hence the precautions you take with a breadboard end). For a tray that’s 6” wide, it’ll be very small. I’d screw the runners on and plug the holes. The screw will allow the expansion you need. Glue will probably crack, especially since this tray will be washed, introducing moisture.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4408 posts in 3384 days

#3 posted 11-16-2011 09:14 PM

Just allow the movement by drilling the screw holes a bit oversized in the cleats. Don’t clinch the screws thightly.
DON’T PUT THE TRAYS IN A DISHWASHER. That would be instant destruction of the joinery.


View Byron's profile


92 posts in 1804 days

#4 posted 11-20-2011 09:46 AM

The general rule I go by is 3 1/2 to 4 inches for a edge glued surface. I try to always stay below the 3.5 mark but anything larger will blow apart, maybe not right away, but if you want it to last definitely let them “float”. A solution to this is to use a dovetailed slot and just leave a little bit of room in the grove on either edge. Then glue the top piece around the dovetail, but by far not the easiest way, Id suggest screws or other floating hardware, or reconsidering the design.

Another thing is to only glue part of the bottom strips so the rest can move, and you could always reenforce this area with a joint of some kind, even some dowels. If you do this at the center the outsides would barely move.

And the top part of the tray would be more then strong enough if the glue surfaces are true

-- Byron Conn, Woodworking/Furniture Design at Rochester Institute of Technology,

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