Wood movement when face-gluing solid stock to plywood/mdf

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Forum topic by GregD posted 05-31-2013 03:49 PM 8512 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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788 posts in 3158 days

05-31-2013 03:49 PM

I am making speaker cabinets (subwoofers at the moment) out of plywood and mdf.

I would like to face-glue 2” wide by 5/16” thick hardwood trim along the edges of the plywood sides to create a frame-and-panel look, cover the joints of the plywood sides, and allow me to run a 3/4” radius roundover over the corners without exposing the underlying plywood.

Long term am I likely to have problems with wood movement in the hardwood trim? The cabinets are too rigid for the trim to cause any warping. I suppose the trim could split or the joints might widen. It doesn’t seem too likely to me, but I’d like a heads-up if someone has some relevant experience.


-- Greg D.

12 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile (online now)


16275 posts in 4240 days

#1 posted 05-31-2013 04:11 PM

Greg, you’re outside of Houston, right? Your climate is pretty much like mine in New Orleans, and I find that wood movement in general is not as big a problem here as it seems to be in colder climates. I think because our temperature range is smaller, and humidity is consistently high, moisture content doesn’t fluctuate as much as it does in some parts of the country..

I have done things very similar to what you are describing, and never had a problem.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5908 posts in 3216 days

#2 posted 05-31-2013 05:06 PM

Greg…...It sounds like you’ve got it pretty well worked out as to how you want to do the trim….I’ve built a few speaker cabinets for a sound system years ago…..Back to your question: If it was me, I’d glue the trim on, clamp it up, and shoot a few pin nails to hold it…..18 gage should be fine….Then go back and fill in the nail holes, and you’re good to go…..Paint, stain or wahtever finish you use…...As Charlie said, we live in the South where wood movement isn’t a big factor….......

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3158 days

#3 posted 05-31-2013 06:27 PM

Charlie, Rick

Thanks. Yup, I’m in the Houston area these past twenty-something years. I didn’t think it was physically possible for any place to be more humid than Houston – then I visited New Orleans in the summer…

Traditional 6 panel doors have cross-grain mortise-and-tenon joints that are much wider than 2”. Britboxmaker’s EZ miter (trademark? patent-pending?) also ends up with cross-grain joints that could get close to 2” wide. So I figured my plan could work.

Seems kinda strange. With most projects I’m trying hard to make sure the joints look tight. On this project all the large structural joints get covered up and I just need to be careful about fitting the small joints in the trim. Maybe I’m getting a bit smarter. I’m pretty sure this idea was influence by the Woodsmith Shop TV show.

-- Greg D.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4996 posts in 2515 days

#4 posted 05-31-2013 06:42 PM

That piece is not wide enough to be concerned about movement (IMHO). I think you’re good to go, though I was curious about running a 3/4” radius roundover bit over a 5/16” thick piece of wood….not using the full radius?

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3158 days

#5 posted 05-31-2013 06:58 PM

There is trim on both sides that form the edge that gets the roundover. So the trim forms edges similar to the situation you get with a box made out of 5/16” thick stock. A 3/4” roundover will not cut through so long as the trim is at least 1/4” thick.

-- Greg D.

View LukieB's profile


966 posts in 2352 days

#6 posted 05-31-2013 07:05 PM

I agree with Fred, with pieces that small, the movement should be pretty minimal.

Fred, I think this is what he means by 3/4 radius on 5/16” stock, I had to think about it myself for a second so I drew a picture, LOL

Edit—And I see Greg responded while I was drawing, : )

-- Lucas, "Someday woodworks will be my real job, until then, there's this"

View Airspeed's profile


445 posts in 1924 days

#7 posted 05-31-2013 07:24 PM

I think you will be fine, you outa try to prevent movement in speaker cabs like these! I had to build a custom oven to bake these in before I painted them! Took forever to figure out a way to stop seams from showing through from movement in the wood, actually MDF and Masonite. Drying them out and sealing them right after was the only way I could keep them stable.


View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3158 days

#8 posted 05-31-2013 07:47 PM

LukieB – yup, that’s it.

Airspeed – awesome! Something like that would make the rest of my house look bad!

-- Greg D.

View LakeLover's profile


283 posts in 1961 days

#9 posted 05-31-2013 10:45 PM

I live in the frozen north. Today I helped our oldest daughter move.

I had a chance to look at the birch ply and solids. After 5+ years some pieces look great. some well used and could stand some refinish. But the well glued joints were tight.

I was looking at this one bedside table, then looked at again. Thought….... Did I make that?? So I asked my daughter and she said Yes. I guess I never took a pic and I should have. Spalled maple drawer fronts, and the finish on the top birch and edge banded solid, was still pristine. Even the mahogany feet were shining. Minwax poly.

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3158 days

#10 posted 05-31-2013 10:52 PM

LakeLover – thanks for that data.

-- Greg D.

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 2886 days

#11 posted 05-31-2013 11:25 PM

Airspeed those speakers are very nice. And that camper you made is out of this world

View Arookar's profile


81 posts in 2424 days

#12 posted 07-06-2013 07:15 PM

I was taught that 3” or less (across the grain) is the safe spot….too little movement to worry about in those widths.

-- The only gift is a portion of thyself. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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