Darn that curly/tension wood..PART ONE

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Forum topic by cathyb posted 06-03-2018 06:51 AM 862 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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843 posts in 4014 days

06-03-2018 06:51 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tip milling koa

Let me first say to all my friends on Lumberjocks, I have certainly missed you!
Life as a realtor is a challenging job. Every day in the past four and half years, I have looked for a niche to tie together my love of woodworking with real estate. I do get a thrill out of using my furniture to stag my listings, but it’s not enough to keep my hands busy. This year I am determined to split my time between woodworking and helping people buy and sell homes. I really miss the peace of mind and stimulation (which may be an oxymoron) involved in creating art. Enough about my slow road home, but I would not be true to my inner soul if I stopped working with wood!

Today, I decided to tackle an awful job which started last fall. I bought some curly koa, which was beautiful but as ornery as prized bucking bull. The piece I cut back then, immediately released some inner tension and started to twist. I put it back on the shelf until today. From years of working with wood, I know that if I can get it thin enough, I can make that wood do anything I want. The trick of course, is to get at least on side flat long enough to run it through my resaw bandsaw.

Before you even go there, make absolutely certain you have another piece of wood, it could be of the same species or one of a different color, which will look like inlay when you have finished. This piece of wood must be milled to slightly wider than your wild wood, make sure it is absolutely flat on both sides and the same length. Do this the day ahead and before you resaw your ornery board, be ready to glue them together to create a stable piece of wood with beautiful grain, now under control.

Let’s get back to my ornery wood: Get one side flat, to do this, run one side on the jointer and then use double stick tape to attach the flat side to piece of absolutely flat piece plywood about the same size and run this through the drum sander until both sides are flat.

Keep in mind this board really wants to go crazy again and it will as soon as you cut it on the bands saw. NO PROBLEM! My boards are 7/8” thick. I set my bandsaw to rip to a 3/8” thickness. I only make one pass. They will not be the same thickness, I don’t care. Once they are glued to my stable piece of wood, I will sand them to the appropriate thickness.

Get them off the bandsaw and, unless they are still too thick to control, glue them immediately to the stable inner board. Use as many clamps as you have, spacing every two inches, to create a massive amount a pressure to squeeze these boards into compliance. Then relax! For koa, I always use epoxy as my adhesive. It is expensive, but perfect for an oily wood. I used the slow set for part B, because I don’t hurry this process. The next morning, I remove the clamps, run both sides through my drum sander. Once you have taken control of those boards, you will have a beautiful piece of wood for any project.

This is part one. Tomorrow morning, I have select the wood for the middle layer of this three ply. I might use walnut, because it is inexpensive and quite stable. For part two, I will include photos of this process. Then we can make a interesting piece to share. Cheers….

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

8 replies so far

View shipwright's profile


8554 posts in 3568 days

#1 posted 06-03-2018 02:59 PM

Welcome back Cathy!!

Sounds like you have the process well in hand but as someone who works with veneer a lot, I think I would be tempted to set the bandsaw a little thinner. If you cut it at 1/16” for instance you wouldn’t have to get it glued up until you wanted to use it …. and you would get more pretty wood.
... but I know you think more in terms of solid wood and the thicker “pretty wood” skins will give you better options in that regard. Anyway I would never question your motives or practices. In fact I will be filing this strategy away for the time when I need to use it.
BTW, you just gotta make a press.

Thanks …... and did I say Welcome Back!

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View cathyb's profile


843 posts in 4014 days

#2 posted 06-03-2018 05:15 PM

Thank you Paul. I would like to try to get the koa of thick as possible. Until I get to the bandsaw, I don’t know how thick they will be, 3/8” would be a dream. It might end up as 3/16”, we’ll see.

It sure is pretty and worth the extra effort.

Have a great day!

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View Druid's profile


2205 posts in 3565 days

#3 posted 06-03-2018 08:21 PM

Interesting technique Cathy. I’m joining Paul’s idea of keeping a copy of your method on file.
Good to hear from you, and thanks for sharing.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View cathyb's profile


843 posts in 4014 days

#4 posted 06-03-2018 10:41 PM

Hi John,

I hope you are doing well. This fall I plan to visit Vancouver, British Columbia for real estate event. If you are around, I’d love to visit your shop.

So for the curly koa, I bought the walnut today. This afternoon I have to show some properties, but tomorrow morning, I plan to get my walnut milled and ready for gluing. Tuesday those koa boards will meet their match. I have had issues with unstable wood in the past. Since I love laminate work, I just get them to a more manageable thickness and laminate them to a stable piece of wood to provide a piece I can work with, which will not become problematic during the build or for the client.

It is a bit labor intensive, but worth the effort. Once I have the wood all glued up and clean this week, I will determine the best piece for the work. I want something not too heavy, so I can use it for staging. Maybe an entry way table or an interesting blanket chest. If this wood were more workable, I would have done a bent laminate for a bench or chair.

Enjoy your latest project and have a great weekend!


-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View Boxguy's profile


2876 posts in 3037 days

#5 posted 06-04-2018 05:12 AM

Cathy, welcome home. It is good to have you back. Leave it to you to start with a terrific challenge and go from there. I am eagerly awaiting the pictures and the finished product. I hope you are safe and well away from harm. Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

View cathyb's profile


843 posts in 4014 days

#6 posted 06-04-2018 07:14 AM

Hi Al,

I worked on my boards for a little while today. It will probably take most of the day tomorrow to get every piece flat and ready for the bandsaw. By tomorrow evening, I want to have the first of four laminates completed. By week’s end, I will finally have a set of four boards about 54” long and 5” wide. From there I have to decide how to best use them in a piece. I have three additional boards from the same tree, which are about 10” wide and 56” long. Of course, to use those, I will probably have to do more laminations, but at least I will have a good idea of how successful this might be. This is one of those slow as you go maneuvers. Once you finish something that was a real challenge, it really is a wahoo!! moment.

I look forward to your next post.



-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View DocSavage45's profile


8956 posts in 3612 days

#7 posted 06-04-2018 08:25 PM

Hey Cathy,

I couldn’t believe I saw CathyB in my email.

Good to see your creative self inspiring us other guys! I’m on the verge of using a process which is similar to yours. Haven’t got a press bag but I’ve considered Paul’s’ press concept. But using thicker pieces.

Putting together my own version of a two stage 3 hp dust collection system for my shop as the smaller units I had aren’t doing the job as I step up to heavier shop tools.

Glad you’re back! look forward to your posting.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View cathyb's profile


843 posts in 4014 days

#8 posted 06-04-2018 11:55 PM

Hi Doc,

It’s good to hear from you as well.

Today, I finally decided what will become of this section of a tree, which had such a tortured life to become filled with tension and stress. It will be a sofa table. I begin the gluing process today and this will go into tomorrow. This is just for the legs!! The top piece and shelf will have a similar treatment. I am quite excited to see the final result.
I probably won’t have my final piece until a week or two, depending on the finishing schedule.

Best regards,


-- cathyb, Hawaii,

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