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max board width recomended for glued up top?

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Forum topic by Mainiac Matt posted 902 days ago 2101 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mainiac Matt

3898 posts in 962 days


902 days ago

I’ll be glueing up the top for my blanket chest project soon, and am wondering what width I should limit the boards to.

The lumber is red oak and the finished size for the top is 42” x 19”. I’ll likely plane them down to 3/4”

The boards are very old and very dry…. less than 6% on my old moisture meter.

Any advice will be appreciated.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!


18 replies so far

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Mainiac Matt

3898 posts in 962 days


#1 posted 902 days ago

I should elaborate….

I don’t know if I should be concerned about cupping with boards as wide as 5” to 6” and am wondering if I should rip them into narrower strips or not.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

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HorizontalMike

6926 posts in 1548 days


#2 posted 901 days ago

I too will be tackling a blanket chest, right after current project completes.

I glued up two 7in wide 3/4in thick boards recently (jelly cupboard) and know what you mean. I have some minor cupping that I think I can pull out during assembly BUT… 8-(

I think gluing up narrower strips could help stop some of the cupping since you could alternate the grains on each strip, but I’ve only done this a couple of times. My workbench was glued up like this, but then again it was 3in thick. I am thinking of having a thicker 1in thickness on my blanket chest top, for both appearance and stability.

Keep us posted, as this too is high on my current agenda. I still have 14in boards to glue up for shelves on the current project.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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woodrookieII

211 posts in 1297 days


#3 posted 901 days ago

My last table (a coffee table) had a top that was a finished 26.5 inches wide. I used 3 boards, made sure the grains were opposite, and used a clamping system I found here on LJ to promote flatness. Then it went to the mill for a couple of passes through their HUGE drum sander.

Came out just fine and no cupping or bowing.

The finished table top was 26.5×44.25. With a top that large is was suggested to use table top fasteners to allow the wood to expand/contract to prevent splitting.

....rookieII

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tenontim

2131 posts in 2378 days


#4 posted 901 days ago

I usually limit mine to 5 or 6 inches, unless the lumber is quartersawn and the grain is consistent across the board.
If you’re using flat sawn lumber, the thinner you make the boards the flatter the top will stay.

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Dano46

73 posts in 1803 days


#5 posted 901 days ago

Maybe this is over kill, and don’t know where I came up with this figure but, I always ripped the stock to a little over 3”, make a couple of passes through the jointer, then alternate the grain. Never had any problems.

-- You can't trust a dog to guard your food.

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mmcafee09

29 posts in 906 days


#6 posted 901 days ago

I try to stay around the six inches mark, I use #20 bis and place them about six inches apart, I also use a few runners on the inside. Mine s on here if you want to see how I’m talking about.

-- The College Woodworker

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WDHLT15

1100 posts in 1110 days


#7 posted 901 days ago

I personally like 5” as a good working width. I use a breadboard edge applied with a sliding dovetail. This piece on the sides and front is 1 1/2 thick so that it forms a lip that goes over the sides and front of the chest. The key is to keep the top in the clamps until you are ready to finish it. Then, immediately attach the breadboards. They really reduce the likelihood that you will get cup. BTW, cup only can occur it there is a moisture change, so if the top is in equilibrium with the end use environment, it will not cup.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT15 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln

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Vincent Nocito

429 posts in 1998 days


#8 posted 901 days ago

It really depends on the look you are trying to achieve. If the oak is flat sawn, you get the cathedral grain look. If the pattern is very pronounced, narrow boards may make the top look like a choppy ocean. Rift sawn (straight grain) wiill appear much more uniform and narrow boards are less of a problem. Quarter sawn grain can go either way. You try to come up with a pleasing pattern.

I build a farmhouse table (42” wide) out of flat sawn 7” oak. The grain was very pleasing to the eye and there was no issue with cupping.

Number the boards with chalk or pencil and start laying them out. Take a photo (or note the board number sequence) of the different patterns you create. Then you can go back and make a final decision.

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BobM001

388 posts in 964 days


#9 posted 901 days ago

A lot depends on how much fluctuation your environment sees in humidity. In the north we get wide swings in RH between summer and winter. Like was stated quarter sawn if you’re lucky enough to get it will be more stable. The idea of an “apron” will enhance stability as well. All the methods discussed above especially with alternating the growth rings on flat sawn. Will the use of biscuits in the glue joints aid in the prevention of cupping?

-- OK, who's the wise guy that shrunk the plywood?

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woodrookieII

211 posts in 1297 days


#10 posted 901 days ago

Biscuits. My understanding is that biscuits are primarily for alignment. However, I am open to correction.

....rookieII

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HorizontalMike

6926 posts in 1548 days


#11 posted 901 days ago

Lacking a biscuit cutter, I use floating tenons. On the top of my barrister’s bookcase piece, I ran a 1/2in deep TS dado the length of each piece and used 1/4 ply as the tenon. I took a couple of passes to sneak up on the actual size/thickness of the ply. This worked out very well for me and was very easy to do. Another LJ turned me on to this, so I thought I would pass it on as well. The finished piece is 15in X 39in X 3/4in.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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TCCcabinetmaker

925 posts in 989 days


#12 posted 901 days ago

There are really two different schools of thought being touched on in this topic. Cut it down as narrow as possible and reglue, well to be honest most of the time people who do this don’t realize you are supposed to run your grain patterns in opposing directions when doing this, which doesn’t make for “seamless” joints where you can’t tell one from the other. But the A.W.I standard is that any board over 7 inches should be glued up.

The other school is about proper drying and preperation will lead to the appropriate results. And studying antiques one finds this to be truer than not.

Mike, when at all possible you want to avoid running grain in the opposite directions at the end of a piece, most likely you won’t have great humidity issues, but they can cause pieces like that to umm do unhappy things.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

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HorizontalMike

6926 posts in 1548 days


#13 posted 901 days ago

TCC,
OK, you have me confused by your response… 1st paragraph says to run grains in opposing directions and 3rd paragraph says NOT to do that. Please explain.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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TCCcabinetmaker

925 posts in 989 days


#14 posted 901 days ago

no, didn’t conflict myself

third paragraph I’m saying don’t run grain perpendicular if you can avoid it, as the end grain expands differently from edge grain.

Now, lets say you cut a board in half. The glue up school says you should flip one of the boards end for end then glue back together.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

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HorizontalMike

6926 posts in 1548 days


#15 posted 901 days ago

So,...(still struggling to understand this) I probably should have had a smile pattern on the left end and a smile pattern on the right end? Instead of the left smile and right frown patterns?

BTW, you are right about not having much/any real humidity issues in south Texas. Had only 14in of rain in all of 2011.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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