strip width in lamination

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Forum topic by Pabs posted 02-24-2020 08:09 PM 279 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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286 posts in 4130 days

02-24-2020 08:09 PM

hey guys

I’m making a top for a piece out of poplar. I will be laminating this top from various strips.
to have a nice flat surface I plan on gluing each piece while alternating the grain direction (to avoid cupping). But was wondering how wide each strip should be for best results?
The top will be about 53 inches long and 13 wide and will be painted. is there a golden rule for that kind of stuff?


-- Pabs

4 replies so far

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2236 posts in 838 days

#1 posted 02-24-2020 10:11 PM

are you opposed to using a Medium Density Overlay (MDO) plywood ?
that would be my first choice, if it were to be painted.

-- I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things. --

View CaptainKlutz's profile


2659 posts in 2170 days

#2 posted 02-25-2020 12:53 AM

+1 for painted projects, use MDF, MDO, or BB plywood and face edges with any old hardwood on hand.

IMHO – There is no magic size that makes panels less prone to warp/twist/cup.

General panel making rules I use:

- Flat/square boards make flat panels. Twist/warp/cupped boards make nightmare panels.

- dry run all glue ups

- if you need excessive clamping pressure to close joints or keep panel straight, then fix it before adding glue.

- wood is going to move. Grain direction will influence the direction of normal wood movement. The choice to have grain direction alternating, or in one direction depends on how top is fastened, thickness, and use of battens. Most folks prefer alternating grain direction for table tops.

- Be very careful of mixing flat, rift, and quarter sawn boards as each moves in different direction. Wide boards with several grain directions can sometimes create havoc keeping things flat with large humidity swings.

Ton’s of online references on how to make flat wood panels, and table tops, such as:

as always, YMMV

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Pabs's profile


286 posts in 4130 days

#3 posted 02-25-2020 01:14 PM

REason for going solid wood is that the person requesting this wanted solid wood versus ply/mdf, etc…

-- Pabs

View Robert's profile


3657 posts in 2156 days

#4 posted 02-25-2020 01:51 PM

For any panel, the narrower the strips, the less chance of cupping. That said, gluing up a panel of 2” wide strips would not be the easiest task, right?

Stability depends on the type of grain pattern (quarter < rift < flat sawn) and acclimatization of the wood.

For 13” wide, 3 boards would be a good choice. I’ve found alternating grain not as important if the wood is stable. That said, you never know what’s going to happen (shop climate vs. home, etc).

I usually prioritize grain direction because I normally hand plane the panel to flatten, so frequently you can’t alternate end grain.

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

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