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Forum topic by AKWoody posted 12-05-2012 06:51 AM 1254 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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56 posts in 3763 days

12-05-2012 06:51 AM

So I am finally building my first real cabinetmakers bench. I have a bunch of kiln dried soft maple the has been in my shop for 6 months acclimating and I finally have the time to get it done.

Currently in Alaska it’s hovering around zero degrees F and the relative humidty is at 49 percent. What that means is the air here is a dry as dry gets. My shop is at about 65 degrees.

Anyway, I ran a test fearing the worse possible outcome. I jointed and planed two 9 foot long pieces of lumber and they came out as beautiful as can be. 48 hours later they are still parallel and square but have a nice warp.

My current solution is to only mill what I will glue up that day and sandwich the warped boards when I glue up the top, does anyone have a better idea or experience working in extreme dry conditions?

Thanks in advance.

7 replies so far

View Dave G's profile

Dave G

335 posts in 2649 days

#1 posted 12-05-2012 10:09 AM

No matter how dry the climate is you have to limit how much material you remove then let the board re-acclimatize before continuing to remove. I try to limit to 20-25% reduction. This has the added advantage of actually leaving you some stock to re-joint.

Fortunately the kind of warp you describe is easier to tolerate than something out of square. Depending on what it’s used for I often ignore it and get good results. I would consider myself lucky on that particular board but they won’t all happen that way.

-- Dave, New England - “We are made to persist. that's how we find out who we are.” ― Tobias Wolff

View HorizontalMike's profile


7804 posts in 3515 days

#2 posted 12-05-2012 04:04 PM

What Dave says. I am a slow working hobbiest and that has helped me “wait” on rough cut boards to settle before planing to final size. It has helped me out a lot to wait and the warping is now minimalized in my work. My 2-cents…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2789 days

#3 posted 12-05-2012 07:00 PM

Sounds to me like the boards you have have more stress in them than a guy would want for a good bench top. If so, I would use timber that is more stable as you will always have swings in humidity over time and that is best accommodated by using as stable a board as you can get.

Also, if you let the boards fully acclimatize in your shop, you should be able to plane off as much as you like without exposing timber that will then react because it is not as dry. Could take a few years of air drying if the boards are very thick. (say 1” – 2” or more)

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Scsmith42's profile


125 posts in 3278 days

#4 posted 12-10-2012 07:54 PM

Woody, before I can offer good advice I need a little more info.

First, when you jointed and planed the boards, did you face joint first and the plane an equal amount off of the opposite face, then alternate faces until you reached the desired thickness?

Second, did you stack and sticker your boards after joint/planing, to allow both sides of the board to acclimate after surfacing?



-- Scott, North Carolina,

View Don W's profile

Don W

19419 posts in 3168 days

#5 posted 12-10-2012 08:36 PM

And a couple more questions to go with Scott’s. Were the boards stickered for the 6 months they were in your shop and were they sitting on a concrete floor?

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View AKWoody's profile


56 posts in 3763 days

#6 posted 12-11-2012 09:47 PM

Scsmith42, thanks for the reply. I did joint one face, then planed off a minimal amount to maintain maximum thickness. I ripped about 2 or 3 inches off of each board but planed/jointed no more than a 1/4 inch off the thickness. I did stack the boards after planing but did not sticker.

Don W, I did have the lumber stacked and stickered while sitting in my shop. They were near the concrete floor which does get cold in AK but not on it.

I went ahead and milled the other five boards I needed for the first half of the bench a couple days ago and glued up the first slab on the same day I milled. I tried to offset the bowing and keep the good boards on the outside. The rough slab was ugly! I did a little work with a fore plane and sent the slab through the planer. To my suprise the slab is perfect, and I mean dead on holy crap once in a lifetime cannot detect an error perfect. Needless to say I am very happy.

I am still curious as to this batch of wood warped so badly. Is it possible I got a “bad batch” of stressed lumber that would bow no matter how I treated it? I did get a pretty darn good deal…..... Off to get milling slab number two, hopefully my luck holds.

View a1Jim's profile


117901 posts in 4178 days

#7 posted 12-12-2012 12:10 AM

The reason stickering is important is equal air flow around the wood ,as an example if you take a piece of bread and put it flat on your counter top the top of the bread will be much dryer than the side that’s face down. When the same thing is done to wood the top drys faster than the area faced down on the bench. This causes warping. As far as your concrete floor ,Concrete holds a lot of moisture and if wood is stacked on a concrete floor or even a foot above it the wood on the bottom is taking on moisture where the wood on the top is drying out faster especially in a heated space.
You guessed it more warping. Then there are the other causes of bowing and twisting ,including intertention,and the wood not being dry enough to be stable.


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