Radiator Cover questions

I've finished a cheap-pine prototype of a radiator cover, Craftsman-style design, and I'm ready to sink the cash into better wood for the final project. However, I have a couple of questions.
The big one is the heat and cold, and how much wear and tear it'll put on the finished product. Obviously, I'd like to avoid having the wood exert itself so much that it splits. But, I'd like to use some nice wood for the project (either mahoghany, cherry, or quartersawn oak). Are any of these preferred for their stability in such projects?
Also, I'd like to get some advice for a finish-- something that'll protect the wood, or stretch and shrink with the heat and cold, or whatever.
(Part of the project will be a sheet-metal backing that will run under the top of the cover.)
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I did the same thing many years ago out of cheap pine and stain. They are still there with no problems. This is FHW baseboard heating.
-Jim
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jtpr wrote:

Mine's a big hot-water radiator, twenty-seven inches high.
After I posted my note, I had a thought that might save me a lot of worry. I'll build the sides with quartersawn oak. BUT, I'll buy a nice green marble top for the thing. That way, I get a nice color contrast with the green marble and the red/yellow wood, and the heat won't split the top.
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From the 'dirty tricks' department --
Build it 'over height' by several inches. Then run a piece of sheet metal (lightweight aluminum is good) from the front edge of the "bottom of the top" over and down _behind_ the radiator. Functions as a 'deflector' to encourage the warmed air out into the room. For extra points, put 'batt' insulation on top of the sheet-metal. More of the heat goes immediately into the room, rather heating the enclosure (which then heats the room).
A metal 'reflector' behind the radiator also helps.
As does insulating the sides of the beastie.
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Brian,
One thing that you can do to minimize the heat transfer to the wood is line the inside top, back, and sides of the cover with rigid insulation. I used the 1/2 inch thick insulation with the foil backing (facing the radiator) on the last steam radiator cover that I made. I fastened the insulation with Liquid Nails. The cover is made of 3/4 inch red oak for the top. The sides are mortise and tenon 3/4 inch red oak frames w/ 1/4" oak plywood panels. The front is a frame of 3/4" red oak w/ 3/4" x 3/4" red oak vertical slats spaced about an inch apart in an oak frame. The inside part of the front has a piece of open weave black fabric stapled in place to screen the fins of the radiator from view. The back is a pice of 1/4" ply that goes from the top to about half the height of the radiator.
This cover looks nice and transfers heat well. The sides and top are cool to the touch and none of the joints have opened up due to the heat in two years of use in a 100 year old Massachsetts home. It has held up much better than a pine cover that I made many years ago that has no insulation in it. Hmmm, maybe I can retro fit that with insulation - new weekend project. :)
I can send you a photo of the cover if you'd like. I know it is frowned on to include images here but I have no access to a.w.b.p.
Brian Siano wrote:

--
Tom Emberley


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You can put the picture on pBase or somewhere and include a link....
-Jim
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