I'm getting ready to build a couple of hutches out of pine. I'm going
to be having to glue up panels for the sides. Is there a general
formula for how large your boards for glueing up can be? For
instance, let's say the panel is to be 18" wide. Is it acceptable to
use two 9" wide boards? 3-6" boards? etc.... Given the pine will
show (ie. no painting), I want to minimize grain changes etc and
gluing up two boards might be more beneficial for that. I've done a
number of glue-ups like this before, but I always used plans that have
told me how wide my boards should be for the panel. These do not.
Thanks very much for any help!!!!!
Take your jointer and planer width limitations into account.
Usually the boards fall within the width of your jointer, and the initial
glueup of panels fall within the limitation of you planer.
IOW, if I was going to do it in my shop, I'd keep the board width less than
six inches, and glue up two panels, each less than 13 inches wide, into a
larger panel, slightly wider than your final width.
I find I get a much nicer and flatter panel glue up by doing it in two
stages, instead of one ... this is just my preference and, as always, the
proverbial YMMV applies.
In the industrial cabinet-making world, it is suggested not to join boards
that are more than 3" wide for stability reasons. I don't go that small.
Usually, the boards I join are around 4" to 7" if they are flat sawn boards.
If the boards are quartersawn, their stability allows even wider boards.
However, there is no hard and fast rule. If the boards have good figure,
then you may want to use a wide board for the panel. You will have to live
with the seasonal changes. Hopefully, they are well behaved boards so
little movement is seen. Since you are limited by you jointer (unless you
neander it), you may have to rip a wide board to less than jointer width,
mill it and reglue. But remember, it is still considered one board since
you haven't changed the grain direction. If you do use wide boards, try to
use ones that have the grain oriented more or less transverse to the face
When you buy 4" lumber, you are generally buying the first board off the
log. This is the one most affected by heart/sapwood differences in moisture
while drying, and even when dry and planed, has a great degree of annual
ring curvature relative to its width. It's the curvature that makes the
difference in staying flat. If the board has little curvature across its
width either because the growth rings are vertical or horizontal, it will
stay flat. Of course, the horizontal one will still have a greater
Wide boards are only more expensive at the retail level. Until then a BF is
a BF. Thicker stock, because of the different drying schedule, becomes more
expensive at the wholesale level.
Thanks folks for the insight. As for jointer/planar width, I'm using
handplanes to join the edges and smooth so there is really no
limitation to the size. I'll take the consensus that somewhere
between 3-5" is appropriate. I've had marked changes in boards given
my extremes in humidity levels (New Mexico).
I think the important thing to understand is, when you edge joint
them and glue them together they effectively become one big board for
lateral movement purposes. One 20" board is going to expand and
contract across the grain just as much (or as little) as 5 4" boards
glued to make one 20" panel. The trick is that you're a lot more
likely to get warping and cupping out of a 20" board than from a glued
up panel. Similarly, a 20" panel made from two 10" boards is more
likely to end up not flat in some way than a 20" panel made from 20 1"
In some designs, this doesn't matter, if there's something holding
both ends so it can't twist. For example, a headboard is usually
stuck in a very long mortise. Similarly, breadboard edges on a table
prevent warping. So can floating panel construction.
When you consider how wide to make the boards, you also need to
consider exactly how the boards will be restrained from warping. If
there's no constraint - a non-breadboard-edge table, for example,
you'll want narrower boards. If the wood is constrained from moving
out of flat, you may be able to go with wider boards, which will look
Regardless of whether you go with narrow stock or wide to source your
panel, you still need to remember to account for seasonal expansion
and contraction across the whole panel width, however.
The "rule of thumb" is 1/8" for every foot of width. A big factor is
the seasonal change of humidity in your area; another big one is
difference between working humidity and finished humidity. If you
make the furniture in an outdoor shop in August in Savannah, GA, and use
it inside in the same place, you're probably looking at a 95%
humidity environment where you worked it versus a 20% humidity
environment it'll live in. As that humidity leaves the piece, you may
end up with wood that is a significantly different size than it was
when you made it.
I don't have info available on what species expand more than others,
but I can tell you this:
Quartersawn is much better than flatsawn for all stability.
According to my _Woodworker's Guide to Wood_, these are the "Checking
and Warping Tendencies in Hardwoods:"
Birch, European or Yellow
Elm, European or rock
Thanks That was what I was looking for. What is the length delta?
I doubt anyone's house is that tight. I have a weksler running all the time and
my humidity cruises in the low 60s with the AC on when the outside ambient is
85-99 (SW Fla)
I have the cypress in the house now so it will be stabilized when I glue it up.
I've got enough clamps to get by I think. Won't be able to glue
everything up at once but that's ok.
I've now run into the Aesthetics issue. I'm working with knotty pine
and need to make these panels from that. I've got 1x10 boards to
work with. Where I'm having trouble is this. I need a 12" panel for
instance. Ok, figure on cutting three boards around 4 1/4 wide or
so. No problem. Cept I can't find a single board that will allow me
to do this without cutting through a large knot. Obviously I don't
want to be gluing this into a panel (prefer to have whole knots at
least on the bulk of the panel). Is it acceptable to say go for 2
3" boards and a 7" board? If I mix and match my widths I think I can
make it work. I'll prolly end up using more wood than necessary as
it'll throw my cutting diagram all to hell but at $0.79/BF, I could
justify buying a couple extra boards.
I have limited experience with panel construction to date, please bear that
in mind when you consider my advice.
If you are concerned about having a 3", then 7", then 3" board - you are
only a rip cut away from making them a lot closer. You could cut the 7"
board and rejoint it to make it closer to the others. The different width
would not be as obvious as the narrower pieces would "disappear" into the
Thanks. Unfortunately, with knotty pine, I'm trying to avoid cutting
the knots and then jointing. What I'd end up with is half a knot
then pure grain and that wouldn't look so good. I think I'm just
gonna try building the panels based on where the knots are and hope
I don't get warping. I might install a couple of cleats on the back
of the panels to help prevent it. Thanks for the help.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Brett A. Thomas) wrote in message
Actually, in the very first line of my original post, I said these
panels were for a couple of hutches I'm building. Basically sides.
The knots in the knotty pine are solid but I don't want to edge join a
clear board with one that has a knot cut in half at the edge.
Strength and such aside, it's an aesthetic thing. Looks cheap. So
I'm trying to rip my boards without splitting knots so when I glue up,
all I have is grain to grain at the joints with no half knots. Make
I would say glue up the minimum number of boards, the object being that the
sides seem to be one single board . The less boards you use the less grain
matching needs to be done .
Usually try and match edge grain to edge grain, the grain at the edges
usually is straightest and therefore easiest to match.
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