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How do I flatten a cupped drawer bottom?

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Forum topic by Wazy posted 867 days ago 1186 views 1 time favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Wazy

68 posts in 868 days


867 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question oak cedar

I have a drawer bottom made out of a single solid piece of wood (possibly white cedar). It is original and the oak desk is quite old so I want to keep it. This bottom, which is about 1/4 ” thick looks like it was hand cut as there are no signs of a circular saw motion. The cupping is so severe at one end that the bottom doesn’t reach the groves where it is supposed to reside. I do not have a steam facility so I was wondering if I soaked the wood in water for a few days and then put it in a press with the idea of gradually cranking the press down over time until flat and then letting it dry. I’m concerned about cracking but does anyone one have any other ideas?


11 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112014 posts in 2208 days


#1 posted 867 days ago

Hi
you could try the wetting it down and putting weight on it ,but if you do I would put stickers under it so air can get on all sides. I’m wondering if you checked the moisture content of the oak before you milled it? When you have severe cupping having wood that is not dry can be one of the causes.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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Wazy

68 posts in 868 days


#2 posted 867 days ago

I have no idea as to what the moisture content was at milling as this was done years ago by person or company unknown. I’m simply trying to keep everything original. I appreciate your comment, especially noting the requirement of unrestricted airflow.

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a1Jim

112014 posts in 2208 days


#3 posted 867 days ago

Sorry I missed the point that it was an old piece of furniture. Another problem is in some old pieces they didn’t allow for wood movement so when the wood expands it ether cups or cracks what’s holding it. Is this drawer bottom removable or already out of the drawer,if so the hot water and weight idea may do the trick. Sometimes it takes more than once to get it flat. If that doesn’t work cut the bottom in half or thirds with the grain and glue it back together. Be careful sawing bowed wood on the table saw,if possible use a band saw.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3409 posts in 2591 days


#4 posted 867 days ago

I would not “soak” the panel. Wet it on the concave side and press gently for a day or two. See what happens. Repeat, repeat.
I that doesn’t work, ya might wanna rip, resize (add a filler strip), then reglue to flatten.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View V31JoePalooka's profile

V31JoePalooka

3 posts in 867 days


#5 posted 867 days ago

If both top and bottom are finished equally, when you do get it flat, reverse the top and bottom, the cupping up as I presume the cupping went down before. This sometimes caused someone placing damp objects, material in a drawer. Sometimes, even from the drawer below. As is often the case, drawer bottoms are seldom finished with even varnish. Finishing them does not prevent moisture incurion or escape(drying), but it slows the rate of either and help prevent your problem. If you have a vaporizer for breathing, cold relief, you might try that, making a tent of plastic or even a card board box. Good luck.

-- V31JoePalooka, Wood worker, Electronics technician, Mechanic, Amateur Radio operator and novice machinist

View Andy123's profile

Andy123

226 posts in 1105 days


#6 posted 865 days ago

Is it finished on the inside on not the bottom. If so that might be your problem. To flatten it, I have no idea.

-- The mistakes I make in woodworking are not mistakes they just give my projects character- Me

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2950 posts in 917 days


#7 posted 865 days ago

If it’s the drawer that is in the middle of the desk, it’s wider than the other drawer bottoms. It likely warped due to having too many heavy things in it. You could take it out and clamp it with some straight wood across the warp and put it in the oven at about 200 degree’s with a pan of water to raise the humidity for about 4 hours. It won’t be completely straight but if you reinstall it upside down and add some weight it should straighten out. I’m afraid that if you wet the board itself it might do all sorts of evil things that will render it useless. Or you could simply take it out and glue a couple 3/4×3/4 inch hardwood pieces to it and clamp it till dry then reinstall, this is assuming you have room for the 3/4 inch when you slide the drawer back in. The oven thing is your best bet. If it isn’t working kick the temp up a bit, but don’t go higher than about 260 degrees. be sure to let it cool with the clamps on.

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

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RussellAP

2950 posts in 917 days


#8 posted 865 days ago

Also if the cupping is severe, you might want to use the oven idea but don’t tighten the clamps all the way, work it in stages of being in the oven for 4 hours each until it’s back to normal. Be sure to keep the water in the oven all that time it won’t boil like it would on a hot stove, but it does vaporize quite quickly so keep an eye on it.

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

View Wazy's profile

Wazy

68 posts in 868 days


#9 posted 862 days ago

Thanks to all of you for your comments. The results were successful. Here’s what I ended up doing. I soaked the concave side of the wood (logic being that it needed to stretch), then I put it in a large vise and began to give 1/2 turns at a time keeping the concave side wet. Once I got it flat, I let it dry for a couple of days in the vice. Perfect.

Thanks a million for helping out and thanks to Lumberjocks for being available.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

2794 posts in 1874 days


#10 posted 861 days ago

Thanks Wazy for reporting your results. A lot of times, people don’t get back to let the rest of know what worked or didn’t work.

View V31JoePalooka's profile

V31JoePalooka

3 posts in 867 days


#11 posted 861 days ago

I, as Mr. Ron, thank you for giving us your successful method and the results, Wazy. This is going in my book of tricks and methods for future reference.

-- V31JoePalooka, Wood worker, Electronics technician, Mechanic, Amateur Radio operator and novice machinist

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