Warped walnut rails for pane glass cabinet doors

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Forum topic by Hotshoes posted 09-13-2021 09:27 PM 400 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 609 days

09-13-2021 09:27 PM

Topic tags/keywords: warped walnut cabinet door rails

I have 4-48”x2”x1” plain sawn walnut cabinet door rails that were flat when cut but now have bowed. They were stored standing on end. The two doors will have 8 panes of glass each and will be mortise and tenon joined. The door must be flat. Can I steam and clamp them flat before joining or is it just going to bow again? My shop is super humid in coastal Texas heat and the wood has been garage stored for years, so it should be acclimated. Any ideas? Photos show warped rails and desired result. Thanks!

11 replies so far

View Aj2's profile (online now)


4040 posts in 3018 days

#1 posted 09-13-2021 10:09 PM

Look closely at the grain in those pieces.
See how the bend follows the grain that’s a clue for selecting better pieces.
I don’t know if it’s worth the time to steam bend them. I’ve never tried it
What I recommend is to sneak up to the final dimension on those long parts that are critical.
Good Luck

-- Aj

View LesB's profile


3068 posts in 4663 days

#2 posted 09-13-2021 10:28 PM

It looks like the direction of the grain is the problem. If that is as bad as it gets I think you can pull or push they back into shape when you assemble the frame work. Just make sure they are clamped straight when you cut the joinery.

What kind of joinery are you using?

-- Les B, Oregon

View DS's profile


3928 posts in 3641 days

#3 posted 09-13-2021 10:30 PM

You can adjust them some with heat, but selecting for better grain is the better option.

The wood may tend to return to it’s old ways over time If they remain unsupported in their new positions, which appears will be the case.

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

View Hotshoes's profile


6 posts in 609 days

#4 posted 09-13-2021 10:54 PM

I have come to believe that for the work I’m putting into it, I should cut new pieces with better attention to the grain rather then risk likely rewarping. I have a 3” x 6” timber I can rip…but only have a hand rip saw and my skill is not quite up to it. Hopefully, my circular saw and hand planes can cut it, so to speak. These rails and the mullions will be mortise and tenon. Thanks so much!

View CWWoodworking's profile


2123 posts in 1399 days

#5 posted 09-13-2021 11:04 PM

No need for steam. Just clamp overnight in the opposite direction a little more than the amount of bow.

I’ve done this with a few boards and haven’t had issues. But if you have extra material, cutting new pieces is easier.

View splintergroup's profile


5762 posts in 2443 days

#6 posted 09-14-2021 03:06 PM

If you do use the pieces, it often works to place the pieces so the bends are mirror images (like sides of an hourglass).

The cross pieces will pull them straight if the bends are about equal. Bends that would warp the door (perpendicular to the door) are near impossible to correct and get an even close.

For framed items I find it critical to cut a bit over sized, then let them rest in the shop for a week or more to relax, then cut again to the final dimensions, correcting any bends with a table saw straight edge jig.

View Hotshoes's profile


6 posts in 609 days

#7 posted 09-14-2021 03:52 PM

Thanks Splintergroup

View Lazyman's profile


7836 posts in 2608 days

#8 posted 09-14-2021 04:02 PM

Steam bending won’t work very well. Since they are probably kiln dried, the heat used in drying likely locked the lignin in place so it will mostly spring right back. The best option is to cut them into 2 or 3 shorter pieces and find another use where the smaller amount of warp can can be taken out with a jointer, hand plane or rip cut on the table saw.

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

View Hotshoes's profile


6 posts in 609 days

#9 posted 09-14-2021 06:41 PM

Hi Lazyman, they were barn dried, but I’ve dropped the thought of steaming per forum advice. Thanks.

View JackDuren's profile


1689 posts in 2180 days

#10 posted 09-14-2021 09:22 PM

Use the worse ones on the hinge side. If the rest aren’t bad, the Glas might pull them tight.

Clamping will only fix them for short a time..

View Rodango's profile


36 posts in 448 days

#11 posted 09-15-2021 12:07 PM

Consider resawing the boards then reverse-matching the bends (warps), and glue (laminate) the pieces, clamping straight on a strong, flat table with a flat caul above the sandwich. Because you don’t look at both sides of a door at once, or are seeing through the glass, slight mismatches in grain or pattern have less of an effect. Once the newly made boards have cured and equalized for a while, or a few days/weeks, then mill them oversize and let them rest again!

Now you can mill to final dimension, and start the joinery. If they move unacceptably after this, make bookshelves. Seriously, the resawing weakens the amount the wood can pull and by reverse matching the wood’s tendency to warp, you can get straighter boards from this.

Finally, you have the strength of the glue: resaw then joint flat, plane parallel to the jointed face and glue up. The glue doesn’t resist flex that much, some glues even less than others, but the strength comes from holding all of that surface area together. Tthen one thin board resists the other thin board’s tendency to move. If you’re makining tenons, a three layer laminate might be an advantage, as long as you match the tendency of the bows in reverse, and use a flat board as the center. :)

-- I won't even try to tell other people how to live their lives: they're not listening and I'm probly wrong.

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