I am making some bookshelves, and have 1" red oak planks in varying
widths from 6" on up to about 11". To make my shelves at 11 1/16"
thick, I have been ripping my planks down to a maximum width of about
3.5", and joining 4 pieces together.
I had heard that to avoid splitting or cracking of wood, it was best
to rip down to this width and then join back up.
My question is whether this is good advice. Do I really need to rip
all my wood down like this, or can I join two 6" pieces if I want to?
Properly dried wood and properly "fitted" to your project you can go much
wider. I have a dresser that I built in 1980 that has a solid Oak top made
from 2 pieces of wood. 20" deep.
You can join 2, 6" pieces together.
Take wider stock and rip to narrower (can't recall right now
how wide but memory says 2 1/2"-3" wide) and end for end
every other rip and re-glue. The thinking on this escapes
me this early in the AM but I remember it having more to do
with cupping, twisting and bowing of wider stock.
Metz was a long time writer for Wood & Wood Products
magazine and well respected in the field. As best as I can
remember Metz was not a hand gun owner but did advocate
He advocated no more than 3" wide to help keep panels flat. Personally, I
go up to 6-7" wide, but keep an eye on grain orientation in individual
boards and adjacent boards. However, the figure of the wood has the final
Wide boards, improperly restrained or finished are more likely to cup or
split. Note, that as far as splitting goes, glueups improperly restrained
become wide boards.
Improperly restrained flat-sawn wide boards finished only on one side are
more likely to cup than quartersawn or random-grained glueups. Glueups
finished on one side only will still cup. In damp enough circumstances, so
Don't even start on the reverse the smile versus consistent smile
If your boards are seated in dados and the grain runs the same direction as
the sides they're seated in, it probably doesn't make a bit of difference.
Cut the wood to maximize usage and finish both sides equally.
I suppose I could be more specific.
The shelves will be 11 1/16" deep by 21" wide. (There will be an array
of 6 shelves high by 4 shelves wide, with equally deep 3/4" risers
between each column of shelves.) I had intended to finish both top and
bottom equally with stain and polyeurethane. To fasten shelves to my
bookshelf risers, I was going to use two dowels on each side, rather
than inserting into dado cuts.
I am using #20 plate joiner biscuits in my glue up operations, about
every 5 inches or so.
Thanks for the replies so far -- I welcome any further advice on this
Future stability will often depend upon how the wood was sawn from the log,
but in most instances 6" widths would not be a problem at all if the wood is
properly dried. Depending upon the grain, random widths will often look
better in wide glueups ... less like a bowling alley or hardwood floor.
Experiment and let your taste be your guide.
I like your analogy to a bowling alley! Perhaps he should
leave the spots off when he builds his bookshelf. oh yeah,
and omit the foul line. :)
"The first 12 ft of all wooden lanes is made of maple, the
next 46 feet is made of pine and the pin deck is made of
maple" - Ruth Midgley, The Rule Book.
you might be right about the pine allowing for curve balls.
Once I learned to throw a hook, I was "hooked". :)
"It measures 60 ft (plus or minus 1/2 inch) from the foul
line to the center of the number 1 pin spot. The total
length of the lane is 62 feet 10 and 3/16 inches." - Sylvia
Worth, Rules of the Game
Actually, it has nothing to do with the wood. Pine is used for
economy's sake, and it is typically SYP. The approach and the first
15' of lane are maple to deal with the lofting of the bowling balls and
the resulting impact made on the wood.
Today, many centers with wooden lanes breathe new life into the lanes by
replacing the pin decks with adjustable height phenolic decks, and they
use high pressure glue injection machines to bond the approach and head
area boards together for less wear and tear.
Today's poly finishes on the lane produce an even surface that lane
dressing (commonly known as "oil") is applied to. Believe me, I've seen
many lane conditions where it wouldn't matter if you had sandpaper on
the lanes - the ball wouldn't hook.
In the old days, lacquer and shellac were used as finishes, and they
would wear out in the ball track area. Since everyone used some sort of
rubber ball, the typical wear area was between the first and second
arrows on the left and right side. Once the wear was pronounced, all
you had to do in most cases was to drop the ball in that area and watch
Today, ball technology and lane dressings can conjure up some magic.
Even an average bowler can make today's equipment hook 10-15 boards,
regardless of talent or conditioner pattern. Unfortunately, like most
things, a high tech ball goes for $150-200. And if you bowl tournaments
or multiple leagues, it's not uncommon to carry 3-6 different bowling
balls. Thank God they invented rolling bags!
firstname.lastname@example.org (heyscott) wrote in message
What's your timber like ? What are you most worried about, movement as
shrinkage, or as warping ?
If your timber is from a small log (or near the centre), then there's
an appreciable amount of curvature inside the board (just look at the
end). It's quite possible that 4" boards from a narrow coppiced log
will be much less stable against cupping than an 8" board from a wide
log. Is this quarter sawn or flat sawn ? If it's quarter sawn then
you can pretty much ignore warping in anything under 12" - although
you still need to worry about linear shrinkage.
You may even find that a 12" board with the pith central is _more_
stable as two 6" boards than as three 4" boards. For the centres of
large flat-sawn boards, the cupping is much worse in the middle than
towards the sides. Either losing the middle strip, or at least getting
it to the side of a ripped strip, is better cupping-wise than leaving
it plonk in the centre of your most visible board.
If it's "typical" well-dried timber from a decent sized log, then 6"
wouldn't worry me. I'll happily go to about 8" for built-in furniture
without any real concerns. For small case pieces, or things with
tight-fitting doors, then I'd regard 6" as tops. Of course, YMMV and
it all depends on the board you have.
If you care about this stuff, and you want to learn to be able to
predict it (which is a task to learn, but it's not rocket science)
then get yourself either (or both) Hoadley's book "Understanding Wood"
or the US Forest Products handbook (downloadable, or Lee Valley sell a
nice printed version)
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