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Forum topic by kmiles posted 07-10-2018 03:17 AM 729 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 2321 days

07-10-2018 03:17 AM

Topic tags/keywords: help biscuit joint bow bowed maple door glue up barn door where did i go wrong

I am a novice at best. My shop is outside in a shed with no AC and is 10×12, so very primitive to say the least. A friend asked me to build a 6×6 door for their new home. They chose kiln dried ambrosia maple as their choice of wood. I had the sawyer plane and joint everything for me.

I used biscuits to join everything and pip clams top and bottom to hold it all together. When I clamped it up everything looked straight. The next day I took the clamps off and it looked great! I sanded one side and called it quits for the night. The next day I went to sand the other side and it bowed on me.

I have tried putting pipe clamps on the convex side and letting it sit for a couple days with no luck. I’ve Googled and read about wetting the concave side, laying it flat on the ground in the hot sun and facing the convex side up and it’ll pop back in to shape.

Before I do this I’m looking for advice. If you have any please share. What did I do wrong? What should I do if I can get the bow out?

Thanks in advance!

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7 replies so far

View Aj2's profile


3826 posts in 2874 days

#1 posted 07-10-2018 03:59 AM

It looks like the middle panel created the bow.
But there’s a list of reasons why a door with those dimensions will have problems.
Good for you taking on a project beyond your skill set.

-- Aj

View dca's profile


28 posts in 1102 days

#2 posted 07-10-2018 10:58 AM

If you have a moisture meter, take a reading. If not, buy or borrow one and do the same.

Maybe it’s dry, maybe it’s not – but the only way to check is with a meter. All wood, even dry, needs time to acclimate to its new surroundings. It might have been the perfect moisture content when it was inside and then when taken outside it wasn’t. Maybe that day was especially humid but the night was particularly dry, or vice versa. A moisture meter can pay for itself with a single project – like this one (I like the Lignomat one – it’s about the cheapest one that’s worth anything).

I’d wager it’s not dry enough though and after exposing the freshly planed surface moisture escaped quicker from one side than the other creating the bow as it does. Dry wood typically doesn’t bow that severely.

Doors are surprisingly hard to do well – but like Aj2 said its good you took on an advanced project, you’ll learn a lot much quicker that way. Beautiful wood by the way.

View Robert's profile


4551 posts in 2557 days

#3 posted 07-10-2018 02:28 PM

This will be a tough one.

Try it, but don’t expect much luck with the wet/dry thing.

I expect one or more boards were not completely acclimated.

My suggestion is radical but I think you will end up having to take the whole thing apart, rip the panel boards down the glue lines, and get all the lumber stickered inside your house for a month or 2, then start all over.

Weigh down the stack and with a little luck the boards may straighten out.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View bondogaposis's profile


5986 posts in 3428 days

#4 posted 07-10-2018 02:42 PM

How did you attach the panel to the frame?

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Rich's profile (online now)


6823 posts in 1666 days

#5 posted 07-10-2018 03:00 PM

I see you glued two 4/4 boards for your rails and stiles rather than using 8/4. I tried that once as a cheat for my bi-fold door because I was too lazy and cheap to go buy 8/4 lumber and had the 4/4 already in the shop. I did the glue-up and set them aside while I worked on something else. Within a couple of days they had bowed and twisted to the point that they were unusable. I wound up scrapping them and buying the right lumber. What caused it is a matter of pure speculation. Even though wood doesn’t move along its grain significantly, it still does, and it takes very little difference in movement over 6 feet to create that bow. Was that what happened? I have no idea, but it did.

I have a fair amount of experience building doors, and I have never seen a panel cause a door to bow. It just doesn’t have the strength. In fact, I’ve had panels cup on me before completing doors and after glue up, they flattened out just fine. It was extra work to get them into the groove in the stick cuts, but everything came out straight.

I understand that the wood was provided by your friend, so you had no choice but to do the face gluing. I do see a number of oddities though. First, a 6×6 foot door? Where does it go? Is it really a door, or a gate? Doors are typically 80” tall, not 72. Also, you would never build a 72” wide door, instead you’d build two 36” doors.

If it’s a gate, just get some square tubing or angle iron and mount it to the bowed pieces and that’ll pull them straight. Whether it’s a door or a gate, you are going to need an angle brace anyway to prevent sagging. Those joints will not hold up. I use 2” tenons on the rails of my doors and even then, I never build one wider than 36”. Biscuits are not going to hold.

There are a few other issues I see, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View DS's profile


3745 posts in 3497 days

#6 posted 07-10-2018 03:01 PM

Your panel construction needs to account for the fact that wood will expand and contract many times more across the width than along the length.

If the stiles crossing all your boards are glued, or otherwise rigidly attached, to the vertical boards, it will force the warping when the boards expand and contract.

This is the reason that frame and panel doors exist. The panels “Float” inside a mortise in the rails and stiles to allow the expansion and contraction to occur without warping.

If a completely bonded panel is required, then, effort must be made to have a completely balanced panel (Same forces on the front and back of the panel)

On the scale of your panel, the vertical boards could be seasonally expanding and contracting as much as +/- 1/4”.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Lazyman's profile


6971 posts in 2464 days

#7 posted 07-10-2018 03:34 PM

If you glued that panel to the frame, you have probably created a situation where fluctuations in moisture content may cause it to break or warp. You have to allow for wood movement. The tangential (generally related to width on most flat sawn boards) shrinkage factor on maple is almost 10%. While you won’t see a 10% shrinkage on dried wood, on a piece that large I wouldn’t be surprised if you get between 1/2 and 1 inch of movement total in the width of the panel while the boards it is glue to will shrink or swell very little in length. If it is glued in, something’s gotta give.

If you glued it in, I am afraid that the only fix is to cut it apart and make it again allowing for wood movement. That would probably mean trapping the panel in a groove in the frame in such a way as to allow for the movement. That may also create strength issues that you will have to deal with depending upon how are you planning to hang the door. If you joined the frame corners with biscuits as well, that is probably not going to be strong enough regardless so you probably also want to consider that in your redesign.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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