Bowed lumber in panel glue up

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Forum topic by JustLikeJames posted 04-09-2014 10:30 PM 1077 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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173 posts in 1585 days

04-09-2014 10:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: growth rings bow edge glue edge gluing panel

I’m gluing up a wide panel from s4s lumber. The boards bow along the length some. They all bow about the same when the growth rings are the same direction. If glued up that way, I think I can suck it flat when I install it on a flat table base. Would I be better off to alternate the growth rings and the bows? Maybe the opposite bowing forces would keep it flatter?

OK, I’m sure I’ll get answers from both camps, but maybe there will be enough consensus to put my mind at ease. In any case, Thanks.

4 replies so far

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5702 posts in 2836 days

#1 posted 04-09-2014 10:55 PM

It comes with the territory using flatsawn lumber. Even more so with S4S lumber that sat in a lumberyard. Alternating the rings is supposed to help, but honestly I think most people simply show the best face of each board. If the top is 1” thick or less, it will flatten down to the base.

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

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173 posts in 1585 days

#2 posted 04-09-2014 11:26 PM

I’m still interested in your thoughts, but I just read the following in one of my books (and I’m summarizing):
This doesn’t address the boards bowing aspect of my situation but may be helpful to someone doing a search someday.

Don’t alternate the growth rings.
Alternating them leads to “washboarding” rather than a continuous arc that you can control when fastening.
The growth rings should point down, like smiles. That leaves the inside face of the tree showing, which is normally the better looking face.

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14940 posts in 2713 days

#3 posted 04-10-2014 12:50 AM

I’m in the “let the best side show regardless of ring orientation” camp.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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173 posts in 1585 days

#4 posted 04-10-2014 01:41 AM

Thanks everyone. Best looking side up seems to be the consensus.

As it turns out, when I laid out my boards, the best faces were to the outside of the tree, opposite of what my book suggested. I guess it’s not an absolute.

This top is 1.25” thick, but is 7’ long and will be fastened to a steel base so I’m pretty sure I can still flatten the gradual bow. I just have to make sure I still allow for the wood movement.


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