Shiplap spacing

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Forum topic by BRINKMAN posted 12-18-2011 07:29 AM 6011 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 2695 days

12-18-2011 07:29 AM

I am currently building a Stickley style display case and ready to install the shiiplap back. Plans provided do not indicate any free space between each board which I think would be needed for expansion. Could not find and articles on this subject but I’m shure there are millions of them. Many of you may know the general rule for this distance between each board. Your help would be appreciated. Material is quater sawn white oak 5-6 inches in width, 8 board total.

5 replies so far

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2411 days

#1 posted 12-18-2011 10:22 AM

Disclaimer: I am not a ship lapping expert.

I seem to have seen some people just use a penny’s width. Grab a few and fit them between the boards while you are attaching them (then remove them of course). I guess that would be about 1/16” but I’m not sure.

I did this when attaching the bottom to my “Schwartzian” tool chest, and it seems to have worked fine. But of course, nobody sees the bottom of my tool chest, pehaps using dimes would make a thinner, yet still acceptable space.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View ChuckV's profile


3124 posts in 3554 days

#2 posted 12-18-2011 10:53 AM

I built some pine pieces with shiplapped backs. I used 1/16” for spacing. I have two large plastic shims that came with my router table. They helped a lot.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3024 days

#3 posted 12-18-2011 01:58 PM

This is a recommendation from a company called “Vast Lumber”
“Shiplap boards should be attached with a 2mm gap between boards, to allow for possible expansion. ”
Generally you want the wood in the building it is going to be used to acclimatize it to where it is going to be fitted. good example is installung REAL wood floors. Humidity and temperature will dictate how much movement your material is going to have. In most cases
“larger gap” is better than too tight, loose will leave a gap, to tight will buldge and look crappy.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3771 days

#4 posted 12-18-2011 02:30 PM

I have some plastic shims that I use. They’re about the thickness of shirt box cardboard. Unless you’re wood is really dry and you put the piece somewhere with high humidity, chances are, the boards are more likely to shrink than expand, over time. With a 6” board, and change of moisture content of 10%(about the max you would ever see), each of your boards would shrink or expand about .10”.

View BRINKMAN's profile


11 posts in 2695 days

#5 posted 12-19-2011 02:13 AM

Thank you for all the replies. I think I’ll go with the penny idea as a probably have at least a hundred pounds saved up.

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