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Advice on correcting warped vanity top?

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Forum topic by Mike_D_S posted 01-02-2013 02:55 AM 1076 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mike_D_S

13 posts in 961 days


01-02-2013 02:55 AM

I’m building a pair of cherry vanities for my daughters and have run into a challenge with the top of one of them. The top of the vanity is split into three sections. The two sides are fixed and glued to the frame and with drawers on each side. The center section will flip up and have a mirror inside it. The three pieces are all cut from a single glue up so the grain will be continuous.

I glued up the top mostly paying attention to the look of the grain for what i thought looked good. I realize now that I essentially did my glue up with all the bark sides up. I cut the top and glued the sides down without any real trouble. I needed to order the hardware for the center section, so I left it off to the side for about a week and now that I’m ready to mount it I see that it’s warped pretty significantly.

The pic shows what I’m facing and the warp raises the center about 1/16”.

I could just make a new center section, but I’d like to try and save this. The center section could easily be slightly thinner than the sides as I can tweak the hinge height and install bumpers in the front to level it up.

I’m looking for advice on ways to correct this. My first thoughts are to rig up a jig like a router sled with runners and run my router back and forth over the top to flatten the top. Once I had the top flattened I could sand it smooth and then hand plane the edges a bit to dress the bottom. Not very elegant, but I’m pretty sure I can make this work.

What other ways could I get this problem fixed? I’d really like to save the center section if i can.

On a side note, I made my first set of dovetail drawers today and they turned out pretty good so I’m batting 500 for the day I guess.

Thanks,
Mike

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......


9 replies so far

View oluf's profile

oluf

257 posts in 1785 days


#1 posted 01-02-2013 05:46 AM

Could you add a mirror frame to the back side that was stiff enough to pull the panel flat. Just attach the cross grain frame pieces at the center of the panel so that there can be movement with moisture.

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

View bullhead1's profile

bullhead1

228 posts in 995 days


#2 posted 01-02-2013 06:05 AM

I like oluf’s suggestion. I had problems with wide glue ups until a woodwoorking friend of mine told me once the glue dried, stain (if you are going to) and finish the whole thing (all sides) asap. This has really helped with warpage. Good luck.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2169 posts in 1597 days


#3 posted 01-02-2013 04:11 PM

What is the width across the grain?

And could you elaborate on this please: (quote) “The two sides are fixed and glued to the frame”

If I faced this problem, I’d go along with Oluf’s plan but in addition I’d use a router to waste out a center section behind the glass to, in effect, weaken the resistance to the flattening force the frame rails will exert.

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Mike_D_S's profile

Mike_D_S

13 posts in 961 days


#4 posted 01-02-2013 04:40 PM

Lee,

This picture should help to better illustrate what I’m going for. What I meant was the tops on either side of the part that flips up are glued down and don’t move. The thickness of the top is 3/4” and the flip up section is 15” wide by 17 1/2” deep.

I like Oluf’s idea as well, if I router out a recess to help release the stress and make the top more flexible, I could just mount the mirror recessed as well. That way it’s a “design feature” rather than failure recovery. I could easily go with a 3/8 or 7/16 recess. I could use a fairly thick crossgrain piece and cut a nice profile into the side that sticks out.

This whole situation just reminds me that as a new woodworker my vision is often several steps ahead of my experience.
Thanks,
Mike

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2169 posts in 1597 days


#5 posted 01-02-2013 05:06 PM

Very nice design and proportions, Mike.

And you went and blended suggestions and came up with the best solution yourself!

I don’t agree that your vision is “several steps ahead of (your) experience.” Any one of us could have encountered this and would have had to search for a fix just as you are. It’s all a part of working with our material of choice. While I am not always a ballerina, I do find that I have to be dancing on my toes from time to time. Something good always comes of it.

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

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Mike_D_S

13 posts in 961 days


#6 posted 01-02-2013 06:03 PM

Thanks for the compliment Lee. I really want these pieces to turn out right as my daughters are 16 and 14 so I’m hoping for an enduring heirloom piece that they’ll gaze fondly at when I’m pushing up the proverbial daisies.

I’m going to work on finishing out the drawers today, but once i get the top fixed up I’ll follow up here.

Mike

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View campbellgillis's profile

campbellgillis

5 posts in 760 days


#7 posted 01-09-2013 09:56 PM

I wanted to send you a message, but I haven’t posted hardly at all (avid lurker). I have been wanting to build a vanity just like the one for a friend who just got married but have had trouble putting the plans together. Did you get the plans for this somewhere or that you could point me to?

It is looking really nice, great work.

-Campbell

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

3554 posts in 1560 days


#8 posted 01-09-2013 10:12 PM

The side sections can be held flat with figure 8 tabletop fasteners. The center section can be coaxed flat with a pair of cleats from the underside. You might lose a little depth in the center section’s storage area, but at least the panel would be flat. You will be surprised what a 1” thick cleat will do for you. If you hold them to the sides of the center panel, you would still have some good storage space underneath.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Mike_D_S's profile

Mike_D_S

13 posts in 961 days


#9 posted 01-10-2013 11:56 AM

@pintodeluze – I’ve already got the top sides mounted and they’re held flat by the pocket hole mounting. It’s really just the center I was struggling with. I’ve routered out the center of the tops 3/8” deep for the mirror to sit in a recess and cut a picture frame to go around the mirror out of 3/4” crossgrain which I’m going to glue in solid in the recess to keep the top flat. Hopefully this will handle it. If this doesn’t work I’ve already decided to essentially take the center sections to a local shop and get them to plane the bottoms down until the tops are 1/4” or 3/16” thickness and then I’ll build a frame for underneath and use it like a big veneer. That way I can keep the grain continuous on the top when it’s closed but can cure the induced warp.

@Campbell,

Well, I wouldn’t call them plans exactly. The plans are basically just notes I sketched out on graph paper after my wife showed me a picture of a vanity she liked online. Basically I decided on a height, then the width and depth of the top. Allow for 1/2” hangover on the sides/front and flush in the back defines the width/depth of the frame. Plan to split the top basically 32.5/35/32.5 (this is change from the original drawing which was more of a 30/40/30 split as I didn’t like the way it laid out once I had the top glued up, the proportions felt wrong). The height of the drawers are driven by maintaining a reasonable amount of clearance for someone to sit under it so call it the “lap height” allowance.

The image below is the original drawing and while I’ve done several tweaks to the actual measurements, most of those were primarily driven by changing the split ratio of the top. The top is just a simple glue up (in hind sight I would have made sure of I was more careful selecting boards for the top to get more quarter sawn grain to reduce the warpage issue I’m having now). The frame is simple mortise and tenon with glue/screw for the basin front and sides from the back and bottom of the front with cherry dowel plugs to hide the screws. The top sides are pocket holed and glued.

I started the plan thinking to do basic lock rabbet type drawers with cherry false fronts, but aftere making a test drawer I canned that idea and went with dovetail drawers instead. I have a cheapo dovetail jig which the guy I bought my table saw from just gave me. It takes a while to set up accurately but if you’re careful it does a fairly decent job. As a first attempt I’m pretty happy with my dovetails and the contrasting pins/tails on the front make a nice look. Runners and guides for the drawers aren’t shown on the plan, but I’ll add bottomt runners on the frame to support the side of each drawer and the center guide on the bottom of each drawer to keep it centered.

Basically as i moved through the project I tweaked and adjusted as necessary to make things fit. Other than the stupid warped top which I could still fix if I wasn’t so hung up keeping the continous grain the project isn’t all that difficult.

Mike

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

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