Motivated to fix reclaimed wood table. Please help! - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-23-2016, 05:11 PM Thread Starter
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Motivated to fix reclaimed wood table. Please help!

Complete woodworking novice here. Iíve always wanted to get into vintage furniture restoration, but just havenít had much of a chance.

I just gained possession of a beautiful dining table made of reclaimed wood. It was built 3-4 years ago by an apparent reputable company. It is cupped particularly on one side (center of the table dips below one side) I contacted the builder to see what theyíd recommend to fix it and they sent me a new support system (they apparently donít use the same thing for these tables anymore) and hardware to connect beneath the table top and said it may straighten out over time. Iím inexperienced, but it seems doubtful to me that this would work on its own.

The top of the tabletop is finished, but the underside is not. Could this be the culprit? The table was originally built in the Midwest and then wound up in the extra hot and humid southeast.

My general plan is to put the tabletop out in the sun for a couple hours in the grass cupped tabletop side down. Watch it very closely until it is as flat as possible. Immediately bring it in and put weight down on it while it cools to hold it flat. Leave the weight there until Iím ready to seal the underside of the table. Remove weight, seal the bottom of the table and lean it up to make sure there is airflow while it dries.

One big question I have is whether I have to strip the finish off the top before putting it out in the sun. I donít mind stripping it, and finishing the top and bottom the same, Iím just concerned I wonít be able to replicate the finishóas Iíve said Iím pretty inexperienced.

Is it completely naÔve to think this might work? Different steps you would suggest? Cautions you would add? Iím also wondering if I can store the table in my garage for this whole process. It is a little warm in there and probably pretty humid.
Iím really hoping I can salvage this table, but Iím slightly worried I will ruin it during this process.

Pictures:
http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e7...psmulyenjv.jpg bad side
http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e7...pshbywkyos.jpg
http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e7...psogfcbjtn.jpg table
http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e7...psumxukcij.jpg Current underside support
http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e7...pswhddl29t.jpg New underside support
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post #2 of 9 Old 07-23-2016, 07:35 PM
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From what you said the table wasn't made by a reputable company. Finishing the underside of a solid wood top is woodworking 101 stuff. You are also correct it is the reason for the warpage. I would not sit the table in the sun though. Often the heat of the sun is so much on a wood top it can cause it to crack. You would be better off keeping the table in a room with a de-humidifier and gently bring the moisture content down. What would help flatten it is to make two or three pieces of angle iron to screw to the underside of the top. The mounting holes would have to be elongated to allow for wood movement and the screws not torqued down too tight. If and when the top ever does flatten I would put a finish on the underside to prevent it from warping again.

Unless the finish is damaged on the top side you shouldn't have to strip it. What little it would help wouldn't be worth the trouble.

Chances are the table was made from construction grade lumber and the guy didn't dry it enough to use for furniture. The wood being still a little green and not having the underside finished the top could only warp. Wood absorbs moisture from the air so if one side is finished the other side is free to accept moisture and it causes an imbalance from one side to the other.
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-27-2016, 12:51 PM
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You should probably use some sort of brace underneath. I make tables with #2 wood on a regular basis. Gotta seal it ASAP. In this case I think you should add a brace on the bottom on both ends. This may help. Here is a pic of the ones I put on mine. I glue and screw these to the bottom.
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post #4 of 9 Old 07-27-2016, 11:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VIFmike View Post
You should probably use some sort of brace underneath. I make tables with #2 wood on a regular basis. Gotta seal it ASAP. In this case I think you should add a brace on the bottom on both ends. This may help. Here is a pic of the ones I put on mine. I glue and screw these to the bottom.
Mike , from my experience I'm really surprised you haven't seen warpage with that glued onto the bottom cross grain.....IF you haven't seen any,,, time WILL warp it as it slowly shrinks....UNLESS this is a narrow table, it might not move enough to bow.

i3rynn, DO NOT glue a brace to a table that wide!!!! It MUST float as MC changes. I would first attempt to correct with a DH to bring down the MC and it would probably correct itself. I would turn it upside down on cardboard in a room, once the MC is stabilized...hold that setting for several days, this gets the interior of the wood MC relieved also.....then seal the bottom.
Warpage is caused in this case when the RH changes largely and the unsealed side absorbs moisture quicker than the sealed side swelling the wood on one side causing the bowing.
Once the above MC is corrected and sealed you still need to add the under support of some sort (may require thicker) BUT must have the slots for movement as this will happen 24/7/365.

Have a Blessed and Prosperous day in Jesus's Awesome Love, Tim
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post #5 of 9 Old 07-28-2016, 08:20 AM
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I do see some but these are no wider than 20" and they are meant to have the reclaimed wood look. The only warpage I have seen is where one piece cups one way and the one next to it cups the other at the end. I have had a few warp U shaped a little more than is acceptable but it's only been a few of several hundred I have made. These are stained top and bottom and sealed with 3 coats of clear lacquer the same day they are sanded. You think that helps? I also though of using a steel brace at one time. I have had to replace three that have split in the grain and one that split at a glue seam. I have had to replace one that bowed or U shaped.

What about a steel angle iron brace on that wide table?

"wood does not do well outside.....well....except for trees"

Last edited by VIFmike; 07-28-2016 at 08:23 AM.
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post #6 of 9 Old 07-28-2016, 10:02 AM Thread Starter
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Mike , from my experience I'm really surprised you haven't seen warpage with that glued onto the bottom cross grain.....IF you haven't seen any,,, time WILL warp it as it slowly shrinks....UNLESS this is a narrow table, it might not move enough to bow.

i3rynn, DO NOT glue a brace to a table that wide!!!! It MUST float as MC changes. I would first attempt to correct with a DH to bring down the MC and it would probably correct itself. I would turn it upside down on cardboard in a room, once the MC is stabilized...hold that setting for several days, this gets the interior of the wood MC relieved also.....then seal the bottom.
Warpage is caused in this case when the RH changes largely and the unsealed side absorbs moisture quicker than the sealed side swelling the wood on one side causing the bowing.
Once the above MC is corrected and sealed you still need to add the under support of some sort (may require thicker) BUT must have the slots for movement as this will happen 24/7/365.
Did you see the photo I included of the new support the builder sent me? I'm curious whether this will be good enough to do the job or if I should use angle iron instead. I won't glue it, but definitely want to make sure I attach it correctly so the wood can move.

I'm going to track down a dehumidifier this weekend. That definitely seems like the safest and most natural course of action to fix the problem. I'm not sure what the finish on the top of the table is, but I'm thinking of using General Finishes Original Seal-A-Cell Clear for the unfinished part below. If you have any different finishing suggestions for me, let me know.

I really appreciate everyone's input.
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post #7 of 9 Old 07-28-2016, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VIFmike View Post
I do see some but these are no wider than 20" and they are meant to have the reclaimed wood look. The only warpage I have seen is where one piece cups one way and the one next to it cups the other at the end. I have had a few warp U shaped a little more than is acceptable but it's only been a few of several hundred I have made. These are stained top and bottom and sealed with 3 coats of clear lacquer the same day they are sanded. You think that helps? I also though of using a steel brace at one time. I have had to replace three that have split in the grain and one that split at a glue seam. I have had to replace one that bowed or U shaped.

What about a steel angle iron brace on that wide table?
Let's start with your tables first..
1) The only warpage I have seen is where one piece cups one way and the one next to it cups the other at the end.
This is most likely due to higher MC in the wood than desired when new and cut of the wood effects. IF it was flat on build then it changes, the cut of wood (more than likely edge cuts) cups more as the MC changes....MOST lumber yard wood has a higher MC for framing and a lower MC for interior such as shelving and trimwork....that's why you see the "farm tables" made with standard 2x's end up with more cupping and warpage.

2)I have had a few warp U shaped a little more than is acceptable but it's only been a few of several hundred I have made.
This is mostly caused from the glue not allowing the little movement it needed....IF you hadn't glued it 99% chance NO warpage would've accured. This is a common problem with most early career makers, I'VE done it myself...SO I try to help others not go through that issue...ALL wood MUST move!!!! Even that stuff they call MDF.... actually it's worse with humidity changes.

3) These are stained top and bottom and sealed with 3 coats of clear lacquer the same day they are sanded. You think that helps?
YES!!!! Being sealed all sides is the best!!

4)I have had to replace three that have split in the grain and one that split at a glue seam. I have had to replace one that bowed or U shaped.
This was caused from the glued cross brace not allowing movement of the top as it shrunk. The direction of the cupping will tell you what's happening with the MC at that type of glue joint....IF it cups up/away from joint means top is drying (lowering MC)...IF it bows up in the middle (higher) it's from swelling (more MC).
My advice is to stop gluing the cross brace and that issue should disappear.

5) What about a steel angle iron brace on that wide table?
These are good....and may be his/her answer to a final fix. A top @ 2" thick can span fairly far without support IF built correctly first. Slotted holes are needed. I usually either anchor tight or a single hole in the center one and snug the outer ones allowing everything to stay centered always.

From the looks of OP table it's gained MC causing the unsealed side to swell more than the sealed side causing the cup.

Have a Blessed and Prosperous day in Jesus's Awesome Love, Tim
........www.TSMFarms.com.......... John 3:16-21 ..........
Reveling God's awesome beauty while creating one of-a-kind flitches and heirlooms.
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post #8 of 9 Old 07-28-2016, 08:19 PM
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Mike, how thick are your 20" tops???? They should span with NO bracing if 1" or thicker being sealed as you do all sides.

Rynn, I'm not intending a hijack here, JUST helping others understand this common problem.
Thanks Tim

Have a Blessed and Prosperous day in Jesus's Awesome Love, Tim
........www.TSMFarms.com.......... John 3:16-21 ..........
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post #9 of 9 Old 07-29-2016, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tennessee Tim View Post
Mike, how thick are your 20" tops???? They should span with NO bracing if 1" or thicker being sealed as you do all sides.

Rynn, I'm not intending a hijack here, JUST helping others understand this common problem.
Thanks Tim
1.25" finished thickness. I will start a new thread so we don't highjack this one.

"wood does not do well outside.....well....except for trees"
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