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Forum topic by Mainiac Matt posted 03-21-2012 01:23 PM 1437 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mainiac Matt

7564 posts in 2202 days

03-21-2012 01:23 PM

I’m working on a Hope Chest for/with my oldest daughter (blogging it here)

I had a red oak timber (8×8x14’) left over from the framing of our house (DIY timberframe 16 years ago) and the idea of making the chest from the same lumber that came off our land and framed our house was appealing so I had it resawn and have been prepping the stock (joining and planing) for the project.

My problem is that the lumber has so many knots, checks and splits, that I’m finding it very difficult to get boards wide and long enough (I need 8 at 4-1/2” x 42”) for the glued up top and the long rails. And though I’ve done a fair bit of framing and finish carpentry in my time, this is my first true furniture project…. so I don’t know how large of a defect is acceptable.

Aesthetically, small tight knots are not really a show stopper for us….. but something that opens up and ruins the finished chest a month after it’s done is.

Here’s some specifics…

1. After squaring up and plainin the lumber down to 7/8”, I have some residual checks/splits that show on the back side of some of my boards, but only go ~ half way through of less. Are these safe to use?

2. Or how about the swirled or angled grain (from knots that were ripped out of the board). Will they cause problems?

3. I have a few small (~1/4” dia.) crumbly black knots remaining in boards that I really need. Can I fill these with epoxy to stabilize them?

Should I rip down the few 5” wide boards that I have to remove all defects and make the glued up top out of ~3” wide boards instead?

The lumber is very dry (< the 6% min. reading on my old analog moisture meter) and is a mix of straight and face grain.

I’m beginning to wish I had not offered this lumber as an option….. I’ve got a lot of time into prepping a small stack of boards, that may not even be suitable. More than half of the lumber will wind up in the wood stove.

We’re not looking for the posh and perfect look…. Shaker/country is more our style. But I don’t want it to warp or split.

The biggest lesson learned from my DIY timber frame was “never again poor tons of labor into sub standard materials”..... I don’t want/need perfection…. but I don’t want to make the same mistake again either.

Help and advice is much appreciated.

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

23 replies so far

View Bluepine38's profile


3377 posts in 2958 days

#1 posted 03-21-2012 01:39 PM

Only you and your daughter can decide what is acceptable and what looks good on this project, anyone
else is just a spectator. Epoxy can fill in holes and defects and if you mix in various elements as several have
on this site, it can also add a special look. We can not see the wood, so you are going to have to rely on
your experience with wood to decide what can be used, if you are careful and rip your wood correctly,
you can join similar pieces and make wide surface that looks very good. If you do not feel comfortable
about the wood you have, it would probably be best to use what you can and try to buy matching wood
to finish out the chest. Hope you have fun working on this chest and that both you and your daughter
enjoy it for a long time.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Gabe C.'s profile

Gabe C.

288 posts in 2214 days

#2 posted 03-21-2012 01:42 PM

I’m not the best source of knowledge when it comes to the tendencies of different kinds of lumber to move and/or deteriorate, but after looking at the pictures you’ve posted, the lumber doesn’t look bad at all.
I think the fact that it is from the same stack you used to build your house makes it the ideal lumber to use, BECAUSE it has that connection.
I will be the first to tell you that anyone else on here can give you a more learned answer on this than myself, but I think you should keep going with the project. Nothing is perfect, especially our relationships with those we love. In my opinion, a couple of defects are representative of those imperfections, but the finished chest will be representative of your total love of your daughter.
Maybe post some closer pictures of the defects you’re concerned about, so people can get a better idea of what you’re up against.
Good luck either way!

-- If I could just get this whole "Time/Money" problem figured out...

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

7564 posts in 2202 days

#3 posted 03-21-2012 02:22 PM

Thanks for the imput so far, I’ll post up some better pics tonight.

I actually dug up some add’l lumber that was sawn into boards way back then (and not beams). It’s amazing how they dried so differently. The beams get a real stress war going on caused by the difference in radial shrink and that along the flat faces, causing deep checks. The boards have almost no checking (accept a little at the ends) but were bent and cupped. I managed to get 4 nice boards out of that stash, only to find out that the color is much lighter. The lumber from the beam is much redder. Obviously from different trees….. there’s just so maney species that fall into the category “red oak” it’s mind boggling.

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

View Michael1's profile


403 posts in 2533 days

#4 posted 03-21-2012 02:22 PM

I completely agree with Gus and Gabes comments. I have used wood like you have described in the past and was sucessfull especially if the checking only goes half way through you can have the worst side faced toward the inside where it will not be seen. If you have a knot you are worried it might come loose six months after you finish the progect, you are right in repaiting the knot with epoxy. CA glue works well for this too. For glued up panels, I would recommend making your glue up larger than required and after you see the result and how the wood responds from the glue up, then cut your panel down to size so you can make any adjustments if the wood sis anything crazy or unexpected.
For the most part I think you will be fine though as you have good moisture readings indicating the wood is dry and most likely stable. Good luck on your project.

-- Michael Mills, North Carolina,

View crank49's profile


4028 posts in 2844 days

#5 posted 03-21-2012 02:37 PM

The lumber pictures posted in your project look fine to me, but as everyone else has said, only you and your daughter can say what looks acceptable. I think the knots and swirls add character to the piece. And, CA or epoxy can take care of the checks and “crumbly” knots

View RussellAP's profile


3103 posts in 2160 days

#6 posted 03-21-2012 02:47 PM

You could measure it out to include a cedar liner made of 1×6 planks. If you glue them to the oak, the knots are more likely to stay put and the chest will smell like cedar which will help preserve anything she puts in there which almost always end up being things she want’s to keep for a lifetime. Be sure to take a few pictures of you guys working together and put them in the interior lid so she can look back and remember.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

7564 posts in 2202 days

#7 posted 03-21-2012 03:18 PM

take a few pictures of you guys working together and put them in the interior lid so she can look back and remember

That’s a great idea…. Now I have a use for the 16 oz bottle of “mod podge” my wife used on her latest craft project.

include a cedar liner made of 1×6 planks

The NYWS plan we’re using as our guide has a Cedar bottom…. not sure that would work on the flat top…

Well after a quick Google search and Wikipedia read, I now know what CA glue is…. Simple minds like me will still call it Krazy Glue or Super Glue :^) I never knew this stuff was suitable for use with wood (I usually use it to fix broken toys). It’s so thin and viscous, I bet I could get it down into a split prior to clamping up my glued up panel. Sound like a good idea?

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

View jdmaher's profile


417 posts in 2453 days

#8 posted 03-21-2012 03:26 PM

I, too, think the lumber looks really good. To me, a few knots add a lot of character. I think its gonna look great!

Any knots you’re worried about, epoxy. Money-side checks you might want to epoxy, too. This material prep work IS worth it, since the history of the material is priceless.

Good to think about color matching, but the pics don’t look all that dis-similiar. If the salvaged boards are noticeably a different color, how about resawing them and using them as the panels?

If it were me, I’d definitely keep going!

BTW, its wonderful to keep your daughter involved in the project. You just might be giving her the gift of an avocation she’ll cherish her whole life – just as much as she cherishes the beautiful Hope Chest that encompasses your shared experience. Just remember, before you start any tool – make sure you know where all 20 fingers are!!!

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View brtech's profile


1012 posts in 2796 days

#9 posted 03-21-2012 03:29 PM

CA works, and you can get gel CA that doesn’t run as much as the thin stuff (which is like water).

I do think epoxy is probably a better bet for this project, but CA will do the job.

I also agree that filling your voids with epoxy (or CA) will make the wood very useable for your chest.

Also, you could consider using dutchmen. I see a lot of furniture that proudly shows wood defects filled with dutchmen, especially across a board boundary. Again a matter of taste, but it’s a good solution mechanically.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

7564 posts in 2202 days

#10 posted 03-22-2012 12:04 AM

picture time…. here’s some knots

This one doesn’t go through

This one is at the edge (round black part is ~1/4” dia)

this one is ~ 1” dia, goes through and is cracked on this side

here’s a crack (shake?) at edge

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

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

7564 posts in 2202 days

#11 posted 03-22-2012 12:06 AM

and here’s a split that doesn’t go through…..

back side… (split is immediately behind the knot)

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

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

7564 posts in 2202 days

#12 posted 03-22-2012 12:08 AM

and here’s a split that does go through…

back side….

This is a nice 5 1/2” board, but I’ll have to rip it down to 3 3/4” if I cut out the split….

any advice on whether to use or not use in my glued up top?

any advice on how to mend / stabilize?

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

View chrisstef's profile


17108 posts in 2880 days

#13 posted 03-22-2012 12:20 AM

You could use durchmen / bowtiew to keep those cracks tightened up. I really like the look of the lumber you’re using, i wouldnt have any problem using those boards. To me i like a piece of furniture to tell a story rather than be purely asthetic and your lumber has got a great begining.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

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Mainiac Matt

7564 posts in 2202 days

#14 posted 03-22-2012 12:34 AM

I like the dutchman idea a lot….

I’m just not sure my skill level is advanced enough for any kind of inlay work.

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

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2563 days

#15 posted 03-22-2012 01:48 AM

Tightbond makes an “Instant Bond” CA glue that comes in several different viscosities. I use the thick to fill cracks and small knots like you show. The gel seems too thick to flow down into cracks. Be sure to put some tape on the back side of the defects before applying the glue or it will just run out the back side. Don’t ask how I learned this!.Good luck and I like the wood. It has character.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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