Making wood panels - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 06:00 AM Thread Starter
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Question Making wood panels

Hi all.
I've posted this question elswhere but never realy got any responses. Anyway, this is my first post, I've been doing woodworking not that long time, but I like to learn new techniques and I'm making stuff just for me, I don't intend to go into Business with this.

I don't have a big budget so I glue my own panels from narrow boards. I make them for small tables and other things I would need it for.
And right now I'm in the middle of making a kitchen tabletop panel, but I'm not sure how to do it.

So... I've been looking at a lot of videos, saw numerous techniques, looked at all the tables I sat by, yet still I'm not sure what's the basic rule and what is better, or more "righter".

So, my main rules for now are:

- joint! (table saw or jointer)

- spread glue evenly

- clamp perpendicular and use boards wraped in something, clamping them on top and bottom troughout the board, to make the panel flat

- clamps should be on either side (up and down) of the board

- plain and sand and other fine finishes


Now, I might be missing something but I have a at least 2 questions on my mind:

Is it better to make shorter and more boards or longer and fewer? (that is is it better to set boards width or length wise)

Is it better to keep them as wide as you can or is it better to cut them to uniform smaller size (like aprox. 50mm?)

I made a panel with 55mm long pieces and glued them together (I admit I did a sloppy job, not jointing them correctly and clamping it badly) and it now warps as a MF. The wood was also not on the dry side... OK, I made almost every mistake possible :)

Anyway, if being practical about the discussion would help to get more advice: I'm thinking of doing a small kitchen table that will have a top of 1200mm x 800mm aprox.

Maybe there are no black and white answers, so please just share you expreiences and thoughts. Thank you!
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post #2 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 06:04 AM
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Buy veneered chip board. Available in all sizes.
Or, veneered MDF to avoid any movement problems. An oak table I admired had some curved edging come away. It was chipboard.
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post #3 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 07:10 AM Thread Starter
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I appreciate the advice, but I'm using wood I have lying arround, and some wood I got from my neighbour, hardwood boards wide 90mm and such.
I don't want to spend much on this project, and I want a solid wood table.
Also in general I would like to learn as best as I can to make wideboards.
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post #4 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 07:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnep View Post
Buy veneered chip board. Available in all sizes.
Or, veneered MDF to avoid any movement problems. An oak table I admired had some curved edging come away. It was chipboard.
johnep

Why?


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post #5 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 08:03 AM
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I don't think the width of the board matters as much as being dry, moisture content. I've seen lots of tables made with varying board widths, that is up to the individual looking at it I think. Seems like most of what I make involves panel glue ups. I use mostly rough cut sawmill lumber that has been air dried for at least a year, and most of my panels are about 19mm ( 3/4 of an inch) thick My joined edges are ok and seldom perfect. Sounds to me that you are glueing them up properly. I wouldn't clamp them together to the point that your clamps cause them to bow.

Having the wood dry is a must. The environment where you are doing the work, and the environment where your finished product will be can greatly effect how much the wood moves. It's humid in my area, but fortunately with central heat and air in my home most of what I have made (which isn't much to brag about) doesn't appear to split or crack apart.

Sit tight there are some real experts that will chime in on this, they are always glad to help.

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post #6 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 08:23 AM
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Lumber should be run through a jointer to make a good gluing. The rough texture of a sawn edge can hold the joint apart enough to shorten the life of the joint. The boards should be made straight enough there is no gaps between when dry fitted. When you have gaps in the joint it causes you to put more pressure on the clamps to close the gap. This pressure in turn is the amount of pressure the wood will be pulling on the joint to come apart from now on.

When clamping a panel if the joints fit well only a snug amount of pressure is necessary. Just enough you can hammer the boards level with each other. Too much pressure can push so much glue out of the joint it will weaken the joint.

It's not particularly necessary to spread the glue to 100% of the edge of the wood. If there is sufficient amount of glue it will spread itself out when clamped. As far as clamping use pipe or bar clamps with two on the bottom and one on top up to about 36" length. For a table top it would probably be better to use three on the bottom and two on top.

The length of the boards would depend on the parts needed from the panels. I generally cut wood about 3/4" longer than the finished part and then square and cut to length after the panel has been glued up. The width of the panel is only limited to the size of your clamps. When I make panels for cabinet doors I will often glue up a panel wide enough to make three or four door panels out of the glue up. It saves time if you glue as much as you can because of the wait time for the glue to dry.
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post #7 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 09:32 AM
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Making all the mistakes ....

Quote:
I made a panel with 55mm long (wide) pieces and glued them together (I admit I did a sloppy job, not jointing them correctly and clamping it badly) and it now warps as a MF. The wood was also not on the dry side... OK, I made almost every mistake possible :)

1200mm = 48"
800mm = 31.5"
55 mm = 2.1"



Start with the wood you find lying around. Chances are it will be either cupped, curved, twisted or bowed. Ya can't use it that way. You must use wood that has been seasoned for 1 year per inch thickness in an environment that is below 12% relative humidity, normally that would be inside.


After the wood is acclimated and dry, checked with a moisture meter, you can begin to straighten and flatten your boards, checking them for splits and cracks and loose knots first. Mark out the lengths with chalk on those boards and remove the "bad" portions. Now you can begin. The boards must have one flat surface and one flat edge to safely lay on the table saw and against the fence. The only/best way to flatten a board is with a jointer that is wide enough to surface the entire width in one pass. You can use a router with a sled or a thickness planer with a sled, that why I said "best" way.


After you have one flat surface, you can straighten one edge using the jointer OR a tablesaw with a sled, OR a router with a straight edge guide. Use what ever you have that works best for you. Long boards are difficult to straighten on a jointer with short tables. Most 6" jointers are less than 60" long overall. You can joint a 60" board on that, but you will need some practice.


Once you have one flat surface and one straight edge, it's safe to use the table saw to make the opposing edge parallel and straight, but you will need some skill to get it just right.



After the edges are parallel, you can use a thickness planer to make both surfaes flat and parallel. The jointer has flattened the bottom, now the thickness planer with make the board a uniform thickness by removing material off the the top.



Now all the boards are flat, with straight edges and of uniform thickness. You can sort them for grain direction, and match and mate them side by side for the best look. mark one side with chalk so when you clamp them, the best side shows. Lay down your bottom clamps facing up, typically 3 or more. Coat the edges of the boards with a uniform amount of glue, not too much or too little, you will know with some practice. A roller applicator with help spread out the glue evenly. Then mate the boards together on top of your clamps. When you have them all in position, put the upper clamps on and just "snug" the center one first, making sure the ends are even.You may need to use clamps to hold the ends even as you clamp out from the center. You should cover your black iron pipes with painters tape before starting. This will make it easier to remove any glue drops AND will prevent the pipes from leaving black stains on the wood.



Do not use excessive clamping pressure, first snug then just hand tight. Wipe off the excess glue with a wet rag immediately OR wait until the glue just sets up and scrape it off with a sharp blade. Scraping will not leave a glue stain on the boards, but wiping may if you don't get them really cleaned off. You may have to hand plane the top if there are obvious offsets in the surface. That is a whole 'nother subject for another reply.......



That should do it for you, at least that's the way I do it as in this thread:
https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f2/d...1-4-ply-55717/





You tube videos showing the process:



The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 03-23-2019 at 10:21 AM.
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post #8 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Is it better to keep them as wide as you can or is it better to cut them to uniform smaller size (like aprox. 50mm?)
Panels made with narrow boards are less prone to warping assuming the orientation of the growth rings is alternated.

Quote:
and it now warps as a MF. The wood was also not on the dry side...
That may have been the only significant cause. As was mentioned by someone else above, it's best if the wood is already at it's final average moisture content. Still, if the room has large fluctuations in humidity and the wood species has a large difference in radial versus tangential shrinkage, it is not possible to make a stable panel without using alternated narrow boards.
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post #9 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 12:35 PM
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Here in the UK, we chopped down our Oak trees to build the navy to win an Empire.
Oaks generally have a preservation order on them. Virtually all wood in UK is imported as the forests which covered 95% of UK post ice age were chopped down to clear land for farming. Oaks were especially high demand to build those Oak framed houses tourists love so much. The Navy finished them off. Building Nelsons Victory took 6,000 Oak trees.
I bought just a strip 1/2" by 6' and it cost $10. My Oak floor is engineered 14/3. 3mm Oak veneer on 14mm pine or similar.
Our doors are Oak veneer on a rigid foam interior and come from China. They cost $150 each. So, Oak mainly used as a veneer.
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post #10 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 04:50 PM
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Making a table top is a difficult project to get right, unfortunately it is often one of the first project undertaken, so take your time and study up on the proper way to do it.

Couple hints:

Sometimes when gluing up a large panel it helps to do it in steps, glue up sets of two boards, then glue the two board sets together, this gives you one joint at a time to be concerned with.

Using cawls will help to get the boards an even height.
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post #11 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
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These replies are all great, and I thank you all for chiming in.
I'm trying to get the things done right, and this will help me a lot. I too believe, as some of you have mentioned, that my main problem in the past was that wood was not dired enough/properly.

Fortunately, this is not a big table so maybe there will be a bit more room for my errors. We'll see, I'll try my best.

I must add that I've been thinking also about cutting boards to about 50mm width, but then again, if I don't have much of wood I have to take into account the blade kerf which will transform some wood into dust.

Also.. Would it be better for the boards to be longer (fewer) or shorter (more boards):

___________ or IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII
___________

Last edited by woodklo; 03-23-2019 at 06:11 PM.
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post #12 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 07:23 PM
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Many ways to do it well...

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodklo View Post
...I must add that I've been thinking also about cutting boards to about 50mm width, but then again, if I don't have much of wood I have to take into account the blade kerf which will transform some wood into dust...Also.. Would it be better for the boards to be longer (fewer) or shorter (more boards)
Hi Woodklo,

It looks like your giving this a lot of thought...which is a really good thing.

I'm not sure many of your questions have just "one answer" per se...As FrankC has offered as a suggestion, tables are a challenge in general and come in many styles, forms and for different functions.

My advise is more about "thinking" than what many "think" you should be doing...

My first observations are based on your first post:

Jointing: It can be done by hand, by table saw or a jointer. Attention to detail and accuracy per the needs of building up a large slab of wood is the only real goal. Each tool (be it hand or power) has its "needs"...Learn them and you will be successful...

Glue: Again, neatness and attention to detail will serve you well. All that is needed is enough to cover the wood. You don't want a "starved joint" yet neither do you need glue running all over the place. At the apex of this aspect of the craft there should be a very fine line of glue or beading of glue that is very easy to clean up after it has dried, or with a damp cloth before it does...

Clamping: Just enough pressure to hold the assembly together in the correct orientation and no more. As to method, there are many and each is applicable to the type of assembly system one wishes to use and/or works well for them. So no, the clamps don't "have to be" double oriented but the can be...it all depends...

Finishing: I'm a traditionalist, you might like "modern plastics" and it can be sanded or it can be planed alone...or...it can be textured with other edged tools depending on the look you wish to have...

Wood: It is what you make of it..."bad wood"...can be worked up to be "better wood" and each species has its own characteristics. As to "dryness" that will depend on your understanding of the wood and the methods of working it you wish to employ...aka traditional or modern...

WOOD DOES NOT HAVE TO ALWAYS BE DRY!!!! That misunderstanding comes from the modern ignorance of the craft as we know it today. Wood is, can and was (!!!) often worked only green for millenia...or...green by today's understanding of what can be employed within a project. I personally work in "green wood" almost exclusively and I am not alone in the tradtional aspects of the craftspeople that do this type of work or know how. What should be understood well is that wood moves. Knowing how much and in what directions is critical to a designs and assembly method parameters, just like what ways the panel you create has its wood oriented during placing the pieces, are the plain or rift in grain pattern, are you going with a "wave" "bow" or "crown" in the final panel as all can be used...yet that depends again on joinery methods and design...Some have advantages over others, and also some have preference to style as well...For example I never use the "wave" pattern for glue ups and like to have only "rift" grain or if "plain sawn" I want the bark side of the tree facing up only...but that me...

I would also offer that your local library may have some really good books on all this if you enjoy learning that way as well...

If you care for me to expand on anything just let me know?

Good Luck,

j

Last edited by 35015; 03-23-2019 at 07:31 PM.
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post #13 of 13 Old 03-23-2019, 11:11 PM
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I like the concept of a big glue-up of many boards.
Cabinet maker friend told me to do 1 joint at a time = join two boards then join two of those units and so on.


I can buy 1x12 shelving which is a glue-up of 6 skinny sticks. Planed and sanded.
Lots of knots and wood grain colors, really interesting stuff to look at.

Old and lazy now, I'd buy a few pieces of that and glue up the table top.


Drill one set of linking dowel peg holes.
Use a bunch of center point markers to locate the matching holes.
Dowel pegs, glue and clamps, come back tomorrow.


I have a jar full of these, even to do glue-ups for wood carving. Lee Valley 66J45.01

Last edited by Brian T; 03-23-2019 at 11:15 PM.
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