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When face gluing planks, does grain orientation matter?

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Forum topic by Winny94 posted 10-13-2021 07:01 PM 539 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Winny94

96 posts in 1681 days


10-13-2021 07:01 PM

I am planning on face gluing some 4/4 to make 8/4 to make a table top. I know when glued edge to edge, you alternate grain orientation (smile, frown, smile, frown, etc.). Does grain orientation matter when face gluing? should the end grain make a “circle”? stacked smiles? opposing smile/frown? These 8/4 planks will eventually be edge glued into a table top if that has any bearing on the first question.


18 replies so far

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

4066 posts in 3038 days


#1 posted 10-13-2021 08:22 PM

My suggestion is yes it does matter to me . Never ever glue the inside of a tree to the outside as your example 2 shows.
I would use example one.
I would also like to suggest you ditch the smile frown nonsense. Layup the boards for the best look. Harmony pleasing to eye make the top look nice.
If you were hand planning the top like I do you would also find laying the boards with the grain orientated for a right hand cut just naturally looks great.
Good Luck

-- Aj

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jonah

2207 posts in 4538 days


#2 posted 10-14-2021 12:16 AM

Grain orientation doesn’t necessarily matter in edge-glued panels. “Smile, frown, smile, frown” is a guideline that definitely isn’t 100%. I’ve glued up many panels where all the boards were in the same orientation and they stayed flat just fine.

It definitely doesn’t matter in a face grain glue up.

Option 2 will probably look the most like one single board.

View Richard Lee's profile

Richard Lee

438 posts in 2015 days


#3 posted 10-14-2021 12:18 AM

Option 2 still risks cupping, 1 or 3 would be my choice.

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CWWoodworking

2207 posts in 1419 days


#4 posted 10-14-2021 12:21 AM

Whichever one will look the best.

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

3386 posts in 3878 days


#5 posted 10-14-2021 01:59 PM

I have done this some. I think face-glued boards are more stable than natural boards. I would prefer option 3, since it gives more grain edges and maybe something approaching quarter-sawn look in some cases.

-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

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jonah

2207 posts in 4538 days


#6 posted 10-14-2021 03:39 PM



Option 2 still risks cupping, 1 or 3 would be my choice.

- Richard Lee


Have you ever known a piece of 8/4 that’s properly dried and milled to cup? Because I haven’t.

View dbw's profile

dbw

626 posts in 2876 days


#7 posted 10-14-2021 09:52 PM

IMO #1 gets the nod. If the pieces want to cup they would be fighting against each other and the net “cup” would be zero.

-- Woodworking is like a vicious cycle. The more tools you buy the more you find to buy.

View 987Ron's profile

987Ron

2168 posts in 556 days


#8 posted 10-14-2021 10:20 PM

For no other reason than I like the looks No 1 would generally be my choice.

-- Ron

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

4066 posts in 3038 days


#9 posted 10-14-2021 11:00 PM

I would like to share something. Looking at the curved rings when the wood drys the rings will try to straighten out to become flat. It’s a good way to predict how a board will cup.
I know 99% of you guys know this. This is a tip for the new woodworker or the Op. :)
Good Luck

-- Aj

View Tony_S's profile

Tony_S

1542 posts in 4323 days


#10 posted 10-14-2021 11:53 PM


Option 2 still risks cupping, 1 or 3 would be my choice.

- Richard Lee

Have you ever known a piece of 8/4 that s properly dried and milled to cup? Because I haven t.

- jonah


Yes.
It can be purely dependent on species and width/thickness ratio as to how noticeable it is, but without a doubt, properly dried, flat sawn 8/4 can cup.
Wood moves even after it’s properly dried, no matter the species or dimensions.
Maybe you live in a fairly stable climate in regards to both ambient and relative humidity throughout the year? Some don’t.

-- “The second mouse today is the first mouse tomorrow” French philosopher La’Roy De’Mon

View CWWoodworking's profile

CWWoodworking

2207 posts in 1419 days


#11 posted 10-14-2021 11:58 PM

OP, what width? If it pretty narrow, like 3” or so, just pick the pretty side.

If it’s more like 8”, I would recommend buying 8/4 lumber. Cause at this width, grain orientation isn’t gonna matter, all will fail if it warps.

View Richard Lee's profile

Richard Lee

438 posts in 2015 days


#12 posted 10-15-2021 12:07 AM

Option 2 still risks cupping, 1 or 3 would be my choice.

- Richard Lee

Have you ever known a piece of 8/4 that s properly dried and milled to cup? Because I haven t.

- jonah

Yes Ive seen thicker that has cupped all depends on species, climate, and especially grain.
And what is your definition of cupping ? 1/64 1/32 >.005 Quarter sawn not likely but !

View CaptainKlutz's profile (online now)

CaptainKlutz

4887 posts in 2734 days


#13 posted 10-15-2021 12:19 AM

+1 Option #1 or #3 would be best for 2 board glue up.

But if you are making a long bench top, why not glue up 4-6 boards at time?
IME – With 4-6 stack of 8/4 boards, grain orientation will not matter as much as having a proper clamp jig?

Yes, suggesting a clamp Jig.
It is not hard to face clamp a stack of long boards together, and induce a curve/bow into glue up. You will get best results by using a known flat edge (jig) as alignment for the fixed side of clamps (and it spreads out clamp forces). Using a 8/4 6”w board (flat on clamps) is often enough, but a hunk of 4×4 1/4” wall steel tube or old railroad track piece works for the extremist.

Learned hard way:
Was in hurry on some 2.5” thick cutting board halves, and didn’t realize the back edge of couple clamps had fallen off the table and was not using a known straight edge. When I clamped the stack, introduced a 1/4” curve in 4 ft long panel. Didn’t find it till glue dried and edges where not straight or 90° to ends. Had to waste 1/2” of finished width making panel sides straight, plus it looked weird. Yes, #IAMAKLUTZ.

Last but not least:

Flat boards make flat panels.
or Don’t expect to glue up process to remove warp/twist/bow in your lumber.

Non-straight boards will create stress in lamination. A stressed lamination may warp, twist, bow, crack, break; and/or do all kinds of wonky things when humidity changes.

Best Luck.

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

View Foghorn's profile

Foghorn

1289 posts in 626 days


#14 posted 10-15-2021 01:01 AM

For what it’s worth, I regularly make laminated guitar neck blanks with three to 7 pieces of flatsawn material which when glued up effectively make the blank quartersawn when turned up on edge. Haven’t had any issues with cupping or any other distortion for that matter. No particular observation of in to out or whatever and strictly based on how the grain looks. Only 20 years or so of observation but so far so good.

-- Darrel

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

7943 posts in 2627 days


#15 posted 10-15-2021 03:32 AM

The key to stability is not having any juvenile wood which is generally the first 3 to 10 years of growth depending upon the species and growing conditions of the tree. Some call this the pith but the pith is technically just the very center and the juvenile wood is what actually causes the stability issues. The flatter the rings are the better. If you eliminate the juvenile wood, it probably does not matter which orientation you use from a stability perspective.

My question is how big will the table top ultimately be and is it really necessary to have a 2” thick top. If appearance is the reason, you may be able attach a thicker edge to achieve the thicker look without having to do the lamination at all. Of course the design of the base also determines how important a thick top is. If you have aprons for example, you can usually stick with a 1” thick top and a 2” top may actually not look right.

-- 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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