Lesson Learned (Honey, I Shrunk The ...)

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Forum topic by ChuckV posted 03-12-2014 11:44 PM 1258 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3124 posts in 3552 days

03-12-2014 11:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: wood movement

I am making another Jefferson/Underhill book box like these:

This one is birch. After cutting the dovetails, I used a router to create a rabbet to accommodate the back. While using a chisel to clean up the ends of the rabbet, I made a small crack in one of the pins. It was very cold in my shop, so I brought that piece into the house to let it warm before repairing the cracked pin.

Then some other things came up and I didn’t get back to the shop for about two weeks. During this time, the repaired piece was in the house and the other three were out in the cold shop.

The next step was to glue the four pieces of the box together. Fortunately, I decided to try a dry run before doing the glue-up. The first joint that I tried to fit just didn’t go together. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, since everything fit just two weeks earlier. Then the light bulb flickered on. The piece that was in the house for a week shrunk.

My usual rule of thumb for tangential movement is 1/8” over 18”, mostly because this is easy to remember. These boards are 11” wide and the difference in width was a little over 1/16”, right in line with my estimate. Here is the difference when the opposite edges are flush:

I brought all the pieces into the house and waited. I checked them every few days. It was really interesting to watch the slow and steady progress as the three pieces that were left outside shrunk to match the one that had been inside. It took about 10 days for the widths to equalize. I got everything glued together today.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

4 replies so far

View madts's profile


1862 posts in 2364 days

#1 posted 03-12-2014 11:59 PM

Fun stuff. Glad it all worked out.

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 3939 days

#2 posted 03-13-2014 02:01 AM

It is tricks like that got you accused of witchraft and then burned at the (birch) stake!

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3673 days

#3 posted 03-13-2014 04:15 AM

nice catch!

This is why I don’t like leaving a project midway at the joinery stage, especially with joinery as tight fitting as dovetails or finger joints. good today, completely off tomorrow. nice save though!

how did you equalize remaining 3 boards? did you bring them in the house? or just waited with all boards outside?

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View ChuckV's profile


3124 posts in 3552 days

#4 posted 03-13-2014 12:10 PM

Steve -
“What makes you think she’s a witch?”
“Well, she turned me into a newt!”
“A newt?”
[meekly after a long pause]: ”... I got better.”
[Crowd shouts]: “Burn her anyway! “

Sharon - I brought them all in the house (maybe you missed my last paragraph after the photos).

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

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