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Warped Slab.....

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Forum topic by TZH posted 10-23-2021 11:43 PM 644 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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TZH

637 posts in 4422 days


10-23-2021 11:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question maple planer router plane sander finishing refurbishing sanding arts and crafts rustic

This slab was gifted to me a few years back, and I’ve never tried doing anything with it in the interim because I’m pretty intimidated by it.

However, today was the day I decided it needed to be tackled (not the football kind).

So, the slab is 52 inches long and just under 1 1/2 inches thick. I think it might be maple, but am not sure. When it was given to me, it was in pretty bad shape. Someone had just hung it up on a wall as a pseudo art piece. But, before they did that, they applied some kind of varnish that had to be taken off. They also tried to fill voids with some kind of putty that still needs to be removed if this piece is to look even halfway decent.

The biggest issue, though, is that it’s warped….not really bad, but enough to notice if I were to make this into a coffee table.

So, my question to fellow Lumberjocks is if anyone has had success in straightening warped slabs like this? I’d plane it down using my router planer, but it’s too thin to do that. So, I’m hoping someone might have ideas on how to address the warp because it’s too nice to scrap. Here’s a pic of it sanded down to bare wood:

Thanks in advance.

TZH

-- Where The Spirit In Wood Lives On


22 replies so far

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

8204 posts in 2669 days


#1 posted 10-24-2021 02:35 AM

What direction is the warping? End to end, side to side or both? Bowed, cupped or twisted? When you say it is too thin to use a router planing jig, that would imply it is warped enough that flattening would leave you with too little thickness, yet you say it is not too bad?
Maybe some pictures taken on edge to show how where and how it is warped would help.

-- 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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TZH

637 posts in 4422 days


#2 posted 10-24-2021 04:12 AM

Lazyman, it’s bowed and twisted (according to the images you provided). When I say it’s not too bad, I mean it wobbles. Planing it down any more than the current thickness would, indeed, leave me with too little thickness. It’s a little less than 1 1/2 inch thick right now. I anticipate I’d need to take off at least 1/4 inch on both sides (maybe more) of the slab if I were to plane it down any farther. A one inch thickness (or a little less) isn’t something I’m comfortable with, especially for a coffee table if that’s what I end up making this into. Thanks.

TZH

-- Where The Spirit In Wood Lives On

View Rich's profile (online now)

Rich

7559 posts in 1871 days


#3 posted 10-24-2021 04:30 AM

You’ve done a nice job of cleaning it up. It’s a beautiful board.

I don’t think you’re going to be able to flatten that. Instead, either live with, or enhance the defect. It doesn’t sound like it’s so warped that coffee cups would tip over if you made it into a coffee table, so maybe just let it be what it is and have a wonky table.

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

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pottz

21285 posts in 2266 days


#4 posted 10-24-2021 04:46 AM


You ve done a nice job of cleaning it up. It s a beautiful board.

I don t think you re going to be able to flatten that. Instead, either live with, or enhance the defect. It doesn t sound like it s so warped that coffee cups would tip over if you made it into a coffee table, so maybe just let it be what it is and have a wonky table.

- Rich
=1


+1 just live with what it is.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

4129 posts in 3080 days


#5 posted 10-24-2021 05:23 AM

It’s a strange cut of tree. Looks like a bit of branch and trunk.
If its air dried it shouldn’t be too difficult to plane down the high spots. Or a hump in the middle

-- Aj

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therealSteveN

9208 posts in 1856 days


#6 posted 10-24-2021 05:28 AM

The alternative thing you can do, is cut it to smaller pieces, and those would have less issue across a smaller length/width, so less to remove to flatten.

Makes it not a table top though, but I think not every slab is supposed to be a tabletop. Could still easily be worthwhile, useable wood.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8795 posts in 1864 days


#7 posted 10-24-2021 12:29 PM

If it’s bowed, cutting it into two shorter pieces might make two very nice matching tables, and much less flattening to do on each half.

Another option is putting battens on the back of it, and then flattening them, so you’re only removing material from one side of the slab to flatten that. Then you may have enough thickness.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

8204 posts in 2669 days


#8 posted 10-24-2021 01:15 PM

Another option may be to flatten just one side and adjust the base and legs so that it sits level. Taking 1/4” off of just one side will leave you more thickness. In your planing jig, you would want to shim it so that you remove the least amount of stock. Before you start, you can decide if that would remove too much. If yes, they use a hand plane to remove the worst high spots and live with the imperfection on the rest as Rich suggested. After the first side is done, you can turn it over and assess if doing the other side too will result in removing too much thickness. Take a little off each side might make adjusting the base a little easier too.

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

View controlfreak's profile

controlfreak

3050 posts in 883 days


#9 posted 10-24-2021 01:37 PM

I think you should flatten before you hit it with sanding. Sanding will remove thickness from all areas evenly. Planning will selectively remove only the high spots and clean them up in the process. The question of the day is will removing the high spots on both sides or just the show side be to much? Attempting to run this through a planner will quickly do little more than create sawdust. Looking at that board again, you are going to need some winding sticks and a really sharp plane iron to dance around all that grain. I also think some legs that could come up at an angle through the top and get wedged with a contrasting wood might look interesting. That would take the flatting of the bottom to a minimum and get the leg length as a way to make the now flat top level. Good luck!

View TZH's profile

TZH

637 posts in 4422 days


#10 posted 10-24-2021 01:52 PM

Wow!! Thanks, everyone. Some really good advice and food for thought for sure!!

TZH

-- Where The Spirit In Wood Lives On

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

9096 posts in 3859 days


#11 posted 10-24-2021 02:09 PM

Maybe use some winding sticks and see if you can flatten it out.
From Lee Valley:

View swirt's profile

swirt

6798 posts in 4254 days


#12 posted 10-25-2021 03:23 AM

A couple thoughts, that knowing the kind of stuff you make, I am sure I am preaching to the choir here.
1 Flat parallel planes are over-rated. For a table you only need the top to be flat. The underside of the table does not need to be flat, unless your base requires it.
2. Depending on the wood, don’t be afraid to go thin. I have an oak coffee table I made that started from a slab with a lof of twist. While most of it is 6/4” One part of it tapers down to just a little over 1/8” Plenty of strength and has stayed flat.
3 Sliding dovetail battens may have enough strength to remove minor twist. This is really hard to test and guarantee results. It really depends how far your slab is from flat.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View MakeThings's profile

MakeThings

85 posts in 856 days


#13 posted 10-25-2021 06:52 AM

The sacrilege of adding putty to that beautiful wood!

I think you could have your cake and eat it too. Find a local glass place and see if they could cut glass that fits the shape of the table. Then create tiers that hold the glass up in places where the wood is lower. I know that sounds complicated, and it is, but I think it would be an interesting to see someone allow the shape to be what it is instead of planing it down into a thin board that might decide to keep warping in time anyway.

I’m interested in seeing what you come up with!

-- Most of my public projects: https://www.youtube.com/makethings

View controlfreak's profile

controlfreak

3050 posts in 883 days


#14 posted 10-25-2021 09:22 AM

Lee valley winding sticks, I hope you can wait till march to get them and I doubt they can make that date either.

View TZH's profile

TZH

637 posts in 4422 days


#15 posted 10-25-2021 12:48 PM

I have a couple of old carpenter levels I’ll take a look at to see if they might function as winding sticks. I’ll also try to take a couple more pics to show the bowing and the twist.

I considered battens, and may still attempt them somehow. I watched a video showing how to recess metal battens that appear to me to be about as rigid as they can possible be. My issue on this piece is I’m not sure how I’d configure the battens, lengthwise or crosswise, to be most effective.

We do have a local glass cutter if I choose to go the route of a glass tabletop. If I go that route, I’ve even thought about using metal standoffs, although folks I’ve talked to urge caution because drilling holes in glass and making the holes so they don’t chip (metal on glass) might be problematic.

Like I said at the outset, bowing and twisting aren’t too bad, really, but it’s enough to get my anal self thinking there’s gotta be a way to do this.

TZH

-- Where The Spirit In Wood Lives On

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