How can I keep pieces from twisting?

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Forum topic by UncleDave posted 04-25-2015 02:03 PM 843 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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36 posts in 1211 days

04-25-2015 02:03 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip question joining

I’ve made a few backgammon boards, like the one linked below.

I’ve run into a problem though, where the whole piece twists a little bit over time. I guess the best way to describe it would be to think of it like a rectangular picture frame. If you were to hold each of the short sides of the rectangle and twist, that’s what I’ve got going on here.

I’ve used dry wood and the work isn’t twisted when I first assemble it. Any advice or input on how this could be happening or what I could do to prevent it? Thank you!

7 replies so far

View firefighterontheside's profile


18351 posts in 1881 days

#1 posted 04-25-2015 02:15 PM

Are you allowing your stock to acclimate in your shop before using. I have had problems using 5/4 stock and then planing it down to 3/4 to make door frames. I’ve learned that I need to do this in stages. A piece of 5/4 may be stable, but when you plane it down it exposes new wood and releases tension in the wood and then it can warp. So now I plane it down to about 7/8” and leave it for several days and then take to final dimensions. Also I try to take even amounts off of each side.

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

View bonesbr549's profile


1557 posts in 3091 days

#2 posted 04-25-2015 02:36 PM

I think it could be a couple things. First what is your milling process? Are you bringing in the stock and milling it right away, and how do you mill it. Are you careful to take equal amounts off both sides to maintain as much equilibrium as possible. Do you take it down in steps? And finally are you using QS, Rift, or flat sawn wood. What is your substrait if any is it stable?

I like to bring stock in and let it get use to the shop a few weeks before use. Luckily I keep some stock of most woods I use. I quit getting wood for one project at a time for that reason. Now if a client wants something I don’t have will have to add some time. If movement is a concern like doors etc, I use only QS wood. A lot of times I’ll buy wide boards and find that QS is on the edges or RS.

Second, I never take it down all the way. I go from rough to simi-close (if that’s a real word).

Sticker it and I wait 1-2 days to see how it is going to react. I’ve seen some perfectly normal wood go funky on me after I opened it up by milling it. If it happens, I generally chuck it to the scrap pile, or save it back for secondary wood in other projects where that won’t matter.

If I picked up a minor twist or rocking, i’ll make it flat and watch one more time, Next pass is to take it to real close to final dimensions.

I wait one final day, and then finish. By now, I’m pretty sure it’s safe. I know it’s anal, but after trashing two big doors because of my impatience once, I learned a little time is much better on the pocket and the mind.

Only other thing I could think of is environment. Do you have major humidity swings? That can be an issue as well. I’m lucky where I’m at, not a real issue for me.

Good luck my friend. Cheers.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 1545 days

#3 posted 04-25-2015 02:56 PM

Dave, if it’s not acclimation or milling technique problems it could be how you store the boards or internal stresses from assembly.

Do you store it with one side exposed to a heat or humidity source or the sun ?

When it was assembled did components have to be forced or pressed into position ? Was it square all though the building process and now, afterward, it’s twisting ?

One other thing, and I would put this low on the list, is agents put on one side and not the other, such as finishes or glues, like the glue used to attach the field material for the points. This seems unlikely as I wouldn’t think it would cause enough stress to overcome the structure of the box.

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

346 posts in 2486 days

#4 posted 04-25-2015 03:11 PM

Good thoughts on milling and slowly approaching your final dimension. Since its a small object, maybe use something like veneer over a stable substrate for the big pieces? There is a lot of wood movement inside that intricate frame, not sure if that’s the problem but minimizing movement is always a good thing.

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1247 days

#5 posted 04-25-2015 11:06 PM

Also have you sealed all sides? I learned my lesson with 1st jewelry box, sealed and finished the ext, cover and drawers, left the int of the box bare, wracked out and broke joints before the winter was have way through.

-- I meant to do that!

View UncleDave's profile


36 posts in 1211 days

#6 posted 04-27-2015 05:30 PM

Uff-dah! That is a lot of information, and quite a few things I hadn’t thought of. Thanks for all of the input. I’ll try address most of what I saw here.

- I planed it down slowly, but didn’t let the pieces rest for days before getting them to the final size.
- I purchased the wood off the shelf from Woodcraft (curly maple, African mahogany, and curly cherry)
- I don’t know if the wood was QS, RS, or Flat Sawn
- It was square through the building process and has now twisted over time (but I might have forced in a couple pieces)
- I didn’t seal every exposed piece of grain

I will take my time with the next build and be more mindful of storage and assembly. When I buy the wood, I will try to find quarter sawn or rift sawn. I will seal everything when it’s finally assembled.

Thanks again everyone!

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1247 days

#7 posted 04-27-2015 09:27 PM

Every place you don’t protect will absorb moisture like a sponge and release it as quickly. Whatever the MC was when you finished the assembly and began sealing kept changing after the fact.

-- I meant to do that!

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