Joinery That Held Together for Thousands of Years
A / C
I grew up in the tropics, the place formerly known as the
Panama Canal Zone (sounds sort of like the artist formerly
known as Prince), where the temperature ranged from
maybe 78 degrees up to perhaps 94 degrees. The humidity
stayed in the 90 to 100 percent range because the Isthmus
is only 50 miles wide with a lot of water on both sides
(we only had two seasons, Dry Season and Rainy Seasno.
.Dry Season usually was on a Thursday).
I grew up with solid wood, (teak, mahogany, rosewood,
cedar etc.) often carved, furniture from India and China
- all done with traditional joinery, and some quite
complicated and all done with hand tools. Even the delicate
stuff hung together well UNTIL air conditioning became
available. Within 2 years the joinery started opening up
on the more delicate stuff and a drop lid desk with drawers
had the lid warp and split, stretches get loose, drawers get
loose etc. The range of change in relative humidity and the
resulting change in % MC was just too great for the joinery,
given that it was probably made with a %MC of 14 - 18 and
in an A/C environment was probably down to 4%.
For some reason, some of the Chinese furniture, the ones
with triple mitered corners, frame and panel with mitered
frames held up despite the AC.
So, I'm guessing that it's not wood expansion that I need
to accomodate, but rather wood shrinkage - at least for
"house furniture" (as opposed to "just shop furniture").
Guess I'll shoot for Spit Tight rather than Snug or
CTSBTF (Cut To Size, Beat To Fit).
Oh, BTW - if you're going to use half blind dovetails
for a wall hanging tool cabinet, DO NOT put the pins
on the sides and the tails on the top and bottom -
especially not the bottom! Nails, even finishing nails,
detract from the dovetails - just a little bit.