What to do when the wood is too thin to joint?

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Forum topic by runswithscissors posted 03-22-2013 06:56 AM 1456 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3128 posts in 3031 days

03-22-2013 06:56 AM

I was faced with this question during my louvered door project (see my blog). The material (oak from pre-existing solid wood doors) was already at barely over 3/4”, and I didn’t want to go thinner than about .745”. That meant that a warped board (which can create real problems in a framed door) couldn’t be jointed without losing too much thickness. So I resorted to a method I have tried before with some success. I first sighted down the length to see where the bend was most problematic. I then clamped the wood in the vise, and heated it up with my propane powered paint stripper (has an infra red burner). I heated an area about 18” long, concentrating on the center of the bend. Since wood is quite a good insulator, the thickness of the wood meant the heat would penetrate very slowly. Probably took 10 minutes to get it hot enough without scorching. When I went to straighten it out, I over bent it, since I knew there would be springback. And it worked, saving a piece of oak that otherwise I would have been unable to use.

I’m telling about this because it might be a solution for someone else in a similar dilemma. Oh, a heat gun will work for this too, but you have to be careful about scorching the wood.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

4 replies so far

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4750 days

#1 posted 03-22-2013 12:16 PM

I’ve used my wood steamer with similar results. Just bending it the other way.

View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 3681 days

#2 posted 03-22-2013 11:07 PM

In my part of the country you can wrap the wood in black plastic and put it in the sunshine to heat. Clamp it onto a flat surface then let it cool. Of course if you carry your wood in an open pickup in the extreme heat it will go the other way. This only works in the summer but it is good for part of the guys. No scorching or burning and costs little. This will usually work on cabinet doors that have twisted after installation.

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 3078 days

#3 posted 03-22-2013 11:36 PM

Good info..but I would like to know the nature of the grain where the initial “crick” was. Just to kinda visualize it. Just interested in that for some reason. Did you heat the whole bend on both sides? or just concentrate on one side… if one side, which. I have use moisture methods before and am a little curious ‘bout this dry heat method.

-- Who is John Galt?

View runswithscissors's profile


3128 posts in 3031 days

#4 posted 03-23-2013 01:58 AM

I heat the side toward which I want to bend—the convex side. I don’t believe there is any need to heat the other side, though I do like to heat it for long enough that the warmth is starting to come through.

I bought a piece of oak crown molding at a local millworks that was shaped like a ski. Got a good price on it because nobody else wanted it. About 10 minutes of heating was enough to straighten it out and make it usable. Every piece is different, and needs different approach. Experimentation is called for.

Look back at the thread “Joining bent lamination,” about 7 days ago. My response to the inquiry was to show a piece of 1/4” X 1 1/4” that I bent with dry heat into a 3” radius with the arms at 45 deg. angle. My point in doing that was simply to show it is possible.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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