Wood movement

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Forum topic by Mark posted 05-26-2013 03:28 PM 839 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Mark's profile


964 posts in 2148 days

05-26-2013 03:28 PM

I see a fair number of comments about wood movement. It’s ok to glue up a table top, but not a bread board end. It’s ok to glue stills and rails to table legs (end table) but the top and shelves should be free floating. I assume this has some thing to do with the grain orientation of the individual pieces, but I’m not sure. Would some body please explain the theory. Thank you.

-- Mark

5 replies so far

View TheDane's profile


5534 posts in 3836 days

#1 posted 05-26-2013 03:35 PM

Yes … wood expands/contracts across the grain, not in the direction of the grain. That’s why you can edge glue boards for a table top, for example. If you glue a bread board across the grain, you will have problems. That’s why most bread boards are pinned (using oblong holes in the top) to provide for some movement.

Wood moves, and you cannot stop it.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2660 days

#2 posted 05-26-2013 04:18 PM

As far as I know, everything expands and contracts. Even steel.
For instance, CA-72, The USS Pittsburgh, a Cruiser built during WWII as designed was 704’ long. After launching at Brooklyn Naval yard and it’s maiden trip to the Mediterranean and on to the south Pacific, was measured at 706’ during it’s time in dry dock to have 104’ of it’s bow reattached after it was broken off during a typhoon.
All expansion because of the warmer conditions of the water and the atmosphere.

What Gerry says is absolutely true.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View a1Jim's profile


117272 posts in 3750 days

#3 posted 05-26-2013 04:41 PM

Here’s some good information on wood movement.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Mark's profile


964 posts in 2148 days

#4 posted 05-26-2013 05:34 PM

Thanks for the input gents. Very informative article Jim. Thank you.

-- Mark

View firefighterontheside's profile


19237 posts in 2030 days

#5 posted 05-26-2013 05:35 PM

Wood expands and contracts across the grain, but not so much along the grain. When doing a large glue up such as a table top the movement is amplified. When a large piece expands if one side is held fast then the opposite side moves and the larger the piece the farther that side moves. With rails and stiles, it’s usually only small pieces so the effect of movement isn’t that great and you don’t really have to consider it.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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