Bowed boards for 1/2" cedar panel?

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Forum topic by ADHDan posted 03-28-2013 05:18 PM 1088 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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800 posts in 2131 days

03-28-2013 05:18 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m making a frame-and-panel cedar chest, using a bunch of scrap cedar I picked up almost for free – about 40 or so 4’ planks, 5/8” x 6”. My plan is to plane them down to 1/2” and glue them for panels – roughly 3.5’ x 2’ for the front/back, 2’ x 2’ for the sides. The planks were perfectly flat when I got them, and I don’t have a jointer, so I figured a few trips through the planer and I’d be set.

But, although the cedar was originally kiln dried, the planks were a little surface damp when I picked them up, and after stickering them for a while they dried out (in my climate-controlled underground garage), but some of the boards developed bows. Not cups or warps, but just 1/8” to 3/4” bows from the center out. (Any bows that aren’t dead center don’t matter, I can just cut off the short end and use the longer one.)

If I were to glue up the boards that have shallow bows, alternating bow directions and using over/under cauls, do you think these panels would be ok? I also have a biscuit joiner – can I put biscuits in 1/2” boards, and if so would that help?


-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

4 replies so far

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2077 days

#1 posted 03-28-2013 08:21 PM

If the majority of the boards are straight and only a few are warped, i would probably just glue it together and take the risk.

-- Joel

View MT_Stringer's profile


3172 posts in 3254 days

#2 posted 03-28-2013 08:33 PM

Do you have a jointer? That would help a lot to flatten out the boards and create 90 deg angles to the edges.
Rip a straight edge on the table saw. Sure helps get them straight and flat.

I had similar problems with some white pine. No flat boards so I ripped them into three pieces, flattened on the jointer. Glued them up into panels. then ripped the panels so I could feed them through the planer, then glued them back together. A lot of work but I wound up with flat panels.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2131 days

#3 posted 03-28-2013 08:58 PM

No jointer, so face jointing isn’t an option (I edge joint with a table saw hold-down jig), and I’d really rather not go through the hassle of making a planer sled to joint them. I’m leaning towards sandwiching the least-bowed of the bowed boards between non-bowed boards and taking the risk. I’m dealing with 1/2” cedar, so we’re talking fairly thin, flexible boards – especially over a 3.5’ long panel that will be nestled tight in a frame.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 2859 days

#4 posted 03-28-2013 09:42 PM

I’ve done what you’re asking, used cauls and alternated bows to get a flat glue up. That was a few years ago and it is still holding up fine. I suspect slight bows over a long distance in thin wood isn’t a lot of tension and should hold up just fine if stuck in a stronger straight frame.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

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