Fixing twist WITHOUT sacrificing thickness?

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Forum topic by homercal posted 06-02-2018 02:51 PM 916 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 871 days

06-02-2018 02:51 PM

Hi all. I have a 48” x 14” x 1.5” slab of walnut that has a twist in it. I really like the heft of the slab and want to keep it.

How can I remove the twist while still keeping my overall thickness?

Is it possible?

17 replies so far

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2125 posts in 763 days

#1 posted 06-02-2018 03:33 PM

photos will always help in obtaining accurate feedback. (especially the end grain of each end).



-- I am a painter. That's what I do. I paint things --

View Andybb's profile


2334 posts in 1204 days

#2 posted 06-02-2018 04:07 PM

Just a stab in the dark, but is it possible to put it in a big bag with clamps and cauls and steam it like this?

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Woodknack's profile


13002 posts in 2981 days

#3 posted 06-02-2018 04:55 PM


- Andybb

That is genius.

-- Rick M,

View ArtMann's profile


1462 posts in 1417 days

#4 posted 06-02-2018 05:10 PM

The guy who is bending the gunwale will fasten the piece in place with lots of heavy screws. Most uses for slabs of the sort we are talking about here will not be held in such a way that the wood can’t return to its former shape. Steam bent wood will tend to return to its former shape with changes in humidity if not held in its desired form. That is something to think about if you try steam.

View homercal's profile


7 posts in 871 days

#5 posted 06-02-2018 06:29 PM

Here are a few pictures.

This is the slab. The level is in the direction of the low corners, those actually touching the bench.

Both high (“up”) corners are about 3/8” of the bench.

If the back corner is clamped down the opposite corner goes up to 3/4”.

View therealSteveN's profile


4588 posts in 1175 days

#6 posted 06-02-2018 06:51 PM

I agree with John, seeing it, and knowing what you would prefer to make out of it are where to start. The wood got it’s twist likely because that is how it dried, which is a combination of stressors, grain, and several other things. Also what is it’s moisture level now?

Walnut steams and bends well by nature, BUT when you are talking about 6/4 thickness it also increases chances of grain cracking, and shearing. Usually when people are bending, it is 3/4” or less in thickness, usually less. Boards that are steamed, and bent are almost always heavily anchored, nails, screws, or other means of anchor. Not to anchor it, but to use it for a table top, it will usually want to revert to the shape it was initially in.

The best answer I can give without seeing it, would be cut it thinner (resaw) and shorter (length) As soon as you shorten a board you will effectively decrease it’s twist simply because it will decrease the amplification that occurs when a small amount of twist spans a longer distance. Each cut off will be less twisted.

The best way to eliminate it, you already know, it is to saw, joint, and plane, sand, or route it flat. So getting enthused about a lot of boxes, will net you more usable wood than a chest, or table kind of piece, which needs more length.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4249 days

#7 posted 06-02-2018 07:03 PM

Screw it to a stiffer frame, like welded steel,
using elongated holes.

A frame can be made in wood of course, if
you are up to the task. Steel is just much
stiffer in sections like square tubing.

Most any other approach I can think of would
involve cutting it.

View therealSteveN's profile


4588 posts in 1175 days

#8 posted 06-02-2018 07:03 PM

Well I was typing as you were posting pics.

If that lift is going the same direction up, and is on opposite corners, my first move would be to rip the board in half lengthwise.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Aj2's profile


2645 posts in 2399 days

#9 posted 06-02-2018 11:21 PM

I think that board will always misbehave. It’s the knot thats causing the bow or cup.
Any attempts to cut near that knot will probably make things worse.
It’s still a very nice looking board with the knot you have to find the right build to use it.

-- Aj

View Ocelot's profile


2374 posts in 3239 days

#10 posted 06-04-2018 11:05 PM

Does every table have to be flat?

View ArtMann's profile


1462 posts in 1417 days

#11 posted 06-05-2018 01:35 AM

If I build it, it does.

Does every table have to be flat?

- Ocelot

View homercal's profile


7 posts in 871 days

#12 posted 06-05-2018 03:27 AM

It’s for an end table and we may to compensate for the twist via shims. Not ideal but well so the best with what we have.

View ColonelTravis's profile


1976 posts in 2495 days

#13 posted 06-05-2018 04:24 AM

I could have sworn I posted this comment the other day but coming back here it’s clear I didn’t. This came up not too long ago and a LJer had a solution that might work for you, especially if you want to keep the thickness. Here's a video showing where he makes a series of relief cuts underneath (it works if no one will ever see the underneath or if you simply don’t care) and cuts some biscuit slots on the sides to physically move the board back to straight, which is made easier with all those relief cuts. That sounds confusing, watching it will explain it better.

I don’t know if this will work in your case. That knot area might be problematic, I can’t tell from your photos. I’ve worked with a lot of slabs, never tried the relief cut method. If there is a twist I plane it out. If it’s a bad twist I don’t even bother.

Anyway, good luck.

View Fresch's profile


458 posts in 2522 days

#14 posted 06-05-2018 01:33 PM

Cut it up and add “high light” wood putting it back together.

View Fresch's profile


458 posts in 2522 days

#15 posted 06-05-2018 01:36 PM

Does every table have to be flat?

- Ocelot

Just the ones that aren’t water proof!
No, it could be fixed with a creative base design; point taken Ocelot.

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