Warped (Twisted) Pine Dining Table Top - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 18 Old 04-24-2015, 08:00 PM Thread Starter
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Warped (Twisted) Pine Dining Table Top

Hi Guys,

I am currently refinishing a pine trestle dining table. The table was my grandfathers, so there is sentimental value. He had it custom made by a local woodworker.

I would estimate that the table is from the early 1970s. The top is solid pine (appears to be several "planks"). 2.5" thick.

The top has a slight to moderate warp...I guess I'd call it a whip or twist...sort of a diagonal twist..you notice it if you stand/sit at one end. I have no idea if the table always had this twist. But, it was stored in my parents' unheated garage for about 1 year, with some fairly heavy stuff on top. Since then, the table has been in my dining room, sitting unused for about 1 year, and the twist remains the same.

I should also add that the ends slide out to accept leaves (don't have the leaves), but there are what I would call "runners" forming a mild "structure" under the table top, that I would have thought would have at least somewhat helped fight warping.

I'm in the process of stripping off the shellac. Will sand...do a pre-stain conditioner, stain, and poly, etc...

I have read that it is possible that having a heavy finish on top, and not having one on the bottom can cause something like this, due to uneven moisture uptake? The table did indeed have a fairly thick shellac on top...and the underside is stained, but no shellac.

I was just hoping/wondering if anyone had any advice. I can try to get some pictures posted. Worst case, I can deal with the twist and just call it character.

thanks!!!

Alex

Last edited by PopsPine; 04-24-2015 at 08:02 PM. Reason: additional info
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post #2 of 18 Old 04-24-2015, 09:00 PM
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Alex
Can you lay a long straight edge from corner to corner and measure the amount of twist. (Distance from top of table to bottom of straight edge). This will give us a better idea of the warpedge you've described.
This is the time to correct this issue before you refinish the table.
If the top is 2 1/2" thick, you have plenty of wood to get the top flat again and still have a nice thick top.
I don't think you will want to consider refinishing this table before you fix this twisted top.
It would be really nice if you could find the missing table leaves and refinish them at the same time.
Measure the twist and let us know what you find.
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post #3 of 18 Old 04-24-2015, 09:13 PM
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Can you post a picture of the table, especially with a straight edge laid across it? Also look under the top and see if the underside of the top has ever been sealed with anything. What method are you using to strip the top? Depending on how it is bowed you can help the bow by stripping with a methylene chloride remover and rinse with water. Assuming the underside of the table is raw wood storing in the garage has caused the wood on the underside to swell up causing the warp.
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post #4 of 18 Old 04-24-2015, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, guys. I will do the corner to corner straight edge and measure the degree of warpage...and I'll get some pictures posted soon. Heading back into garage shortly to try to scrape the stripper off.

ToolMan - I think 1 leave was cracked...and the other may be lost...I will double check with the rest of the family. I believe the table is 7 or 8 feet long...so luckily it is a good size...but I agree, would be nice to have the leaves.

Steve - I'm using Citristrip. It does not contain methylene chloride. Plan to wash off w/ odorless mineral spirits (as an aside, I got this: http://www.amazon.com/Klean-Strip-Od.../dp/B002L6K51K not realizing the 'substitute' ..apparently the reviews suck and it may raise the grain? Looks like it may contain some water...but this may actually HELP my problem??) . The underside of the table is stained only...but not varinish/shellac/poly. I'm guessing the underside was able to absorb moisture, and the top was not.

Last edited by PopsPine; 04-24-2015 at 09:53 PM.
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post #5 of 18 Old 04-24-2015, 10:01 PM
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Citristrip isn't a very good remover. Maybe on pine it won't matter so much. What is needed is to get the wood on the top side of the table opened up so we can work on the moisture content issues. The table top needs water on the cup side of the warp. Once you get it flattened out you need to finish both sides of the table top to stabilize it.
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post #6 of 18 Old 04-24-2015, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
Citristrip isn't a very good remover. Maybe on pine it won't matter so much. What is needed is to get the wood on the top side of the table opened up so we can work on the moisture content issues. The table top needs water on the cup side of the warp. Once you get it flattened out you need to finish both sides of the table top to stabilize it.
The Citristrip appears to be removing whatever type of clear coat was on there...the wood is still dark, but this just appears to be the stain remaining. I plan to sand as well. Basically, if I get the top to bare wood, the moisture content should rebalance and potentially straighten the table?

If I get it straightened, is it good enough to add the same # of coats of poly top and bottom? Since the bottom is already stained, I was planning on leaving the bottom as is...but sealing it w. the poly. Top would get new stain and poly.
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post #7 of 18 Old 04-24-2015, 10:41 PM
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When the moisture content is kept the same on both sides of a board it tends to stay flat. When one side absorbs more moisture than the other it swells up just like if you wet one side of a kitchen sponge. Having the finish removed from one side is a beginning however once wood is bowed it tends to stay bowed. For this reason it's necessary to help it by applying water to the cup side causing it to warp in the opposite direction. This is why I thought stripping it might help it. I strip furniture with a more aggressive remover that gets all the finish off the surface and what is penetrated into the pores of the wood. Then to rinse it off I use a power washer with water to clean it off. This sometimes is enough alone to flatten a top. Anyway once you get the top flat like it was when it was new put what ever finish you use on both sides of the top and it's likely to stay flat.
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post #8 of 18 Old 05-02-2015, 11:47 AM Thread Starter
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I'll get some pics up soon. I stripped/sanded it and scrubbed w. mineral spirits, and wiped the top with a little water. It seems to have straightened a tad, but still not there.

I do have another question, though. I sanded with 60# paper to remove the remaining color (stripper removed the clear well). We do want the table to retain some character (it does have a lot of cool dings and marks). Whatever stain was on there really penetrated well. There are still remnants of color in some spots...it is not pure white wood. Can we actually leave some stain on there...the new color we are using is pretty similar to the old finish. I feel like it may give a cool burnished effect, which we would actually like.
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post #9 of 18 Old 05-02-2015, 12:02 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, here are some pics.. first of the finish to see if the remnants of stain would be a problem if staining with a similar shade - MinwaxDark Walnut (and if in fact, it would produce a desireable, 'burnished' effect?) I've only gone over it with 60# far...will go up in steps to 220. Wood is also still a tad "wet" from mineral spirits.

11208951_10101585775085974_873556182_n by Mount Olympus Photography, on Flickr

11198677_10101585774996154_1392595136_n by Mount Olympus Photography, on Flickr

11195414_10101585775021104_1497681321_n by Mount Olympus Photography, on Flickr

11121533_10101585775115914_656866667_n by Mount Olympus Photography, on Flickr



And, here are pics showing the "warp". The level one is hard to get a scale on. If I lay the level diagonally across the table, it will span about 3/4 the length of the table. Holding one end flat, the other end is lifted about 1/2" to 3/4" from the surface.

11216440_10101585775155834_1631191933_n by Mount Olympus Photography, on Flickr

11198601_10101585775071004_1485140223_n by Mount Olympus Photography, on Flickr

This last photo makes the warp look more dramatic than it seems in person...but I guess photos don't lie.

Last edited by PopsPine; 05-02-2015 at 12:12 PM.
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post #10 of 18 Old 05-02-2015, 12:28 PM
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That much twist it's not likely you can overcome it. What you can try is frequently wet the underside of the top and put blocks under the low corners and put heavy weights on the high corners. Keep it up until the top is a little twisted in the opposite directions.

If you are wanting to get rid of the damage marks you will need a more aggressive means of sanding. If you could find someone with a wide belt sander that would be easiest. If not I would sand the top with a belt sander until you mostly have the marks gone and then thoroughly sand it with an orbital.
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post #11 of 18 Old 05-02-2015, 12:32 PM Thread Starter
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That much twist it's not likely you can overcome it. What you can try is frequently wet the underside of the top and put blocks under the low corners and put heavy weights on the high corners. Keep it up until the top is a little twisted in the opposite directions.

If you are wanting to get rid of the damage marks you will need a more aggressive means of sanding. If you could find someone with a wide belt sander that would be easiest. If not I would sand the top with a belt sander until you mostly have the marks gone and then thoroughly sand it with an orbital.
Thanks, Steve.I guess I had it wrong, I was dampening the top of the table, and not the underside,

As far as the finish...I definitely want to keep the damage marks...I like them. I guess the question is, can I stain over the top as is considering I'm using a dark stain? I think it may blend nicely and give a cool, aged effect? (Of course I will sand up to 220 grit, use tack cloth, and a pre-stain conditioner)

Last edited by PopsPine; 05-02-2015 at 12:35 PM.
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post #12 of 18 Old 05-02-2015, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by PopsPine View Post
Thanks, Steve.I guess I had it wrong, I was dampening the top of the table, and not the underside,

As far as the finish...I definitely want to keep the damage marks...I like them. I guess the question is, can I stain over the top as is considering I'm using a dark stain? I think it may blend nicely and give a cool, aged effect? (Of course I will sand up to 220 grit, use tack cloth, and a pre-stain conditioner)
Anytime you use water to flatten wood you wet the concave side of the board. That is because the moisture content of the wood on the crown side is higher than the other side.

Sure you can leave the damage marks and finish over it. I've built new tables and beat them up with a chain to simulate such marks.

Personally I don't like tack clothes. Any I've ever used left some gummy residue on the wood which got in the finish. The pre-stain conditioner is a good idea on pine especially with a dark stain.
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post #13 of 18 Old 05-02-2015, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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Anytime you use water to flatten wood you wet the concave side of the board. That is because the moisture content of the wood on the crown side is higher than the other side.

Sure you can leave the damage marks and finish over it. I've built new tables and beat them up with a chain to simulate such marks.

Personally I don't like tack clothes. Any I've ever used left some gummy residue on the wood which got in the finish. The pre-stain conditioner is a good idea on pine especially with a dark stain.
So based on my photos, you said you'd wet the bottom. I guess I had it backwards...because the top was covered in a thick varnish, I assumed the bottom must have absorbed more moisture and that I'd now need to wet the top. I guess because it is a diagonal twist, its hard to say which side is convex and which is concave. I can see though in the photo I posted, the top looks like the convex side.

Thanks for the tip regarding the Tack cloths!
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post #14 of 18 Old 05-02-2015, 10:32 PM
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Judging for the surface damage I was calling this the top side. Anyway what ever side this is you need to wet the opposite side.
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post #15 of 18 Old 05-02-2015, 10:54 PM Thread Starter
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Judging for the surface damage I was calling this the top side. Anyway what ever side this is you need to wet the opposite side.
Got it, will do. That is indeed the top side. I'll wet the bottom and try what you described w. some weights. I won't expect any miracles though, as you said this much of a twist can be difficult to overcome, but hopefully it helps somewhat.

Worst case, I guess it goes with the whole character thing. The top seems solid and I see no indication of any splitting or cracking anywhere, luckily.
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post #16 of 18 Old 05-02-2015, 11:45 PM
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I think you can get the twist out however I think it will come back. Only thing you can do is try.
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post #17 of 18 Old 05-03-2015, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
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I think you can get the twist out however I think it will come back. Only thing you can do is try.

One thing I noticed - because it is a "twist", if I lay the level diagonal in one direction, it is convex on top....if I lay it across the other 2 corners, it is concave. So, now I think it's a bit more confusing which side to put the water on. I had already put some water on the bottom when I realized this. So, put some on top too. I have weights on the opposite diagonal high corners.

Do you still think the water should go only on bottom?

Also - I simple got a cup and brushed water on with an old paint brush. Keep this up? And, how often?


I really really appreciate all of your advice and help on this!!!

Last edited by PopsPine; 05-03-2015 at 04:25 PM. Reason: typo
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post #18 of 18 Old 05-03-2015, 10:41 PM
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I would only put water on the bottom. By putting it on both sides you are not helping anything. Warp is normally caused by the moisture content of the board being more on one side than the other.

Rather than a paint brush I would keep a bucket of water and a rag and just mop it on. The more often you wet it the better however you can't make a career of it. Just do all you can.
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