Using boards without milling them

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Forum topic by BalsaWood posted 06-01-2018 06:15 AM 800 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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172 posts in 1770 days

06-01-2018 06:15 AM

I have some nice figured maple boards I am planning to use for the sides of a bookcase. Problem is they are both twisted and one corner sticks up about a 1/4 inch. I plan to use dados but was wondering how well would the dados hold if I did not mill the boards flat? Normally I would mill them but I would prefer not to lose any thickness.

8 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4259 days

#1 posted 06-01-2018 07:08 AM

Dados and glue, maybe not. In pine it would
probably work out but maple is stiffer. You
may be able to clamp the twisted parts into
alignment. Put screws in from the outside
of the dados and you’d be fine I think.

It’s not the the case would explode, but the
dado joints might open up over time. They’re
all end grain to long grain and that’s not ideal
for glue strength.

View Tommy Evans's profile

Tommy Evans

150 posts in 2786 days

#2 posted 06-01-2018 12:57 PM

I “think” it would be ok as long as the bottom of the dadoes are all in the same plane. It would take a bit of fiddling to get things right. Imagine the sides laid out and shimmed like on a planer sled. Do that maybe in combination with a router setup used to flatten a slab, but only used to run the dado. Hand tools only would be a way to go, also.

A lot of work, but some design situations or character of the wood may necessitate it.

All bets are off if the sides continue to twist.

peace, T

View bondogaposis's profile


5613 posts in 2963 days

#3 posted 06-01-2018 01:48 PM

There is a lot of potential for a twisted cabinet here. Any chance you could make the sides frame and panel and use the figured wood for panels? That way you could take the twist out.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View avsmusic1's profile


564 posts in 1297 days

#4 posted 06-01-2018 01:58 PM

Just thinking out load here for a moment – how thick is the stock? I know you said you didn’t want to lose thickness but if you had some to spare wouldn’t it (a) reduce the twist that needed to be clamped out, and (b) make the boards easier to bend for the remaining twist? Would a miter lock bit joint work better than a dado?

View BobAnderton's profile


309 posts in 3402 days

#5 posted 06-01-2018 10:06 PM

I think this could work just because of the structure of a bookshelf will force things into square. The shelves all being the same length will force the two sides to be parallel to each other and the fact that the shelves are cut square will force the sides to not twist or cup. The bookshelf back will address bow if you’ve got any of that going on. It’s never a great practise to ask glue to resist tension that the wood applies long term, so the suggestion to help the glue with fasteners is well reasoned. Nicer than screws driven in from the outside of the case might be nails driven in at an angle from the underside of the shelf into the side. Go old school and get yourself a gimlet to make pilot holes for the nails. Free shipping this week from Lee Valley.

Actually, reading the other replies, I second Bondo’s suggestion to make frame and panel sides. Sweet.

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1511 days

#6 posted 06-02-2018 01:38 AM

A lot depends on how long the sides are. The shorter they are the more affect the warp will have.
Also how hard is it to flatten?
Clamp one end to a table and force the other end down flat and see how much pressure it takes. Use your judgement from there.
As Bob says, the more shelves you have the easier it will be to hold flat.

That said, I don’t think I would be too worried, but not being there to see it and feel it, it’s a little hard to say.

View Woodknack's profile


13027 posts in 2992 days

#7 posted 06-02-2018 04:39 AM

Twisted lumber is the worst lumber. Like they said, if it’s not too bad you might be able to force it but it will always be under stress and wanting to twist that cabinet. Best use for twisted lumber is cutting it into smaller pieces but even then sometimes it just keeps twisting.

-- Rick M,

View BalsaWood's profile


172 posts in 1770 days

#8 posted 06-02-2018 05:48 AM

The stock is 3/4 inch thick. Problem is that even if do some milling it, I’m afraid of tearout. What if I secure the very top of it with dowels and the bottom with a sliding dovetail? I will also have a plywood backboard glued to all the sides using rabbets.

Frame and panel also sounds like an option.

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