Woodworking Talk banner
1 - 20 of 62 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just posted in the New Members section and tried to explain that, while Ive always done rough work, I havent done very much fine detail work. So, I recently started my first project, a chess board table.

First of course is the chess board. I had some apple and maple woods, split along time ago from trees that were taken down and have been sitting it the garage for 20 years. I know the dark color is usually a walnut or mahogany but the amber of the apple is certainly enough contrast.

I cut my strips of each, 12" long, 2.25 wide, 3/8 thick. I know the 12" isnt long enough to provide all the spaces but I cut 6 strips of each color.

So a number of concerns. My plan was simply to glue the 3/8 chessboard onto a a piece of 3/4 plywood or mdf and that would be the table top. But then I started surfing the net and read horror story after horror story from people that made chess boards and they warped terribly. And not just chess boards, everything.

It completely paralyzed me. Im now convinced that whatever I make, be it a chess board or a picture frame, Im going to bring it inside and wake up the next morning with a warped, cupped, twisted mess.

Do I need to do anything special to guard against this? Is it a legit concern if using old dried wood? I do work in the garage which tends to be more humid than my house, I suppose (at least in the summer), to the extant that matters.

A little more detail, the strips I cut are about 3/8. The maple is all actually 1/2 the apple is 3/8. And without a thickness planer not sure how I could get them all the same except to glue them flush and then run them on the jointer or use a hand plane.

My original plan was to not worry about it too much. Just glue them flush and then epoxy the "bad" side to the plywood which would fill the gaps. Or would it matter if there were gaps under the pieces that are 3/8?

In any case, that is when I started surfing and came across all the warping horror stories.

Any thoughts from the more experienced?
 

· Registered
Joined
·
29,448 Posts
Sometimes wood will warp no matter what you do. About all you can do is get a moisture content meter and check the wood before you use it. Then warpage is often caused by an imbalance in the moisture content from one side to the other. You can easily cause this by laying a board on a work bench where air can only get to one side of the wood. The safest way is to put something under it like dowels so air can get to both sides.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
But once it is built, some surfaces will be open to the air and some wont be. For example, if the pieces were glued/epoxied to a piece of plywood/mdf, the top is open and the bottom is not.

The part I cant get past is, how is every item in my house not warped? Chairs, jewelry boxes, dressers, cabinets, everything?
 

· where's my table saw?
Joined
·
32,644 Posts
But once it is built, some surfaces will be open to the air and some wont be. For example, if the pieces were glued/epoxied to a piece of plywood/mdf, the top is open and the bottom is not.

The part I cant get past is, how is every item in my house not warped? Chairs, jewelry boxes, dressers, cabinets, everything?
Those pieces have been assembled when dry enough and are now in a conditioned environment where the changes in moisture content are very gradual or time, even months. Sometimes you will experience a separation on glued up surfaces like table tops, "just because" wood has a mind of it's own despite all precautions.
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
4,781 Posts
First off, I’ve never made a chessboard, but I know something about wood, so here‘s my thinking 😁

I have enough experience to know if you use veneer up to 1/8 thick wood plus a balance veneer of equal thickness, you (very likely) won’t have a problem. I also know the thinner the substrate, the more likely you will have a problem.

I also know the following:

  • wood can only cup perpendicular to the grain direction
  • since you’re dealing with small squares, those forces are greatly reduced
  • walnut and maple are very stable
  • your wood is well seasoned
  • alternating grain direction creates more stability, as does alternating ring up/down if you want to be anal
  • a substantial solid wood border will counteract any warp forces.

So with all what I’ve said in mind, personally I wouldn’t hesitate to proceed, using 3/4 ply the board would be fairly thick @ 1 1/8”. If that thickness is more than you can handle, use 1/2“ ply, but I wouldn’t be as confident, mainly b/c thinner ply isn’t as stable, and itself could be the cause of a warp.

If you want the most stable result, use veneer. 😁
 

· Registered
Joined
·
29,448 Posts
But once it is built, some surfaces will be open to the air and some wont be. For example, if the pieces were glued/epoxied to a piece of plywood/mdf, the top is open and the bottom is not.

The part I cant get past is, how is every item in my house not warped? Chairs, jewelry boxes, dressers, cabinets, everything?
You shouldn't be gluing solid wood to plywood or mdf. Solid wood expands and contracts and the plywood and mdf expands and contracts very little. If the solid wood shrinks a great deal being glued to another surface the solid wood will split because it's being held in place. When ever you build anything out of solid wood you should allow for the wood to move. It's like the panels in cabinet doors. The panels are inserted in the frame without glue to allow them to shrink over time. Sometimes you see old cabinets where the panels next to the edge have a strip about 1/4" next to the edge unfinished. It's because over time the wood panel had shrunk 1/4" and you see the edge that once was in the frame.

When a piece of furniture is built the finish on it seals the wood making it a lot more stable. It's why we recommend when you build something like a table top you finish both sides to equalize the moisture content.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the great replies. I can finally make some sense out of the issue. I know it probably sounds silly, but all the horror stories made me wonder how anything can be built without warping. Knew there had to be ways to mitigate it but never found a good source of things in one spot.
Wood is seasoned, I have to check the grain, they were split firewood style and I ripped from there so not sure if qs or plain, or some angle in between. But the grains do run the same direction. I could alternate but then, instead of the method of gluing all strips and then cross cutting, I would need to cut 64 individual squares which seems like a recipe for too many slight size differences.

The only question is gluing to the ply/mdf. Two good answers above: 1) pieces are stable with little chance of movement so glue to the substrate and 2) allow for expansion as in a cabinet door.

Regarding method #1 or #2, would you ignore the gaps due to the height differences of the pieces? Or glue them flush and fill the gaps in the back with epoxy so that too is flush (and then final glue to substrate or use panel style)? Or just use as-is?
 

· Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So with all what I’ve said in mind, personally I wouldn’t hesitate to proceed, using 3/4 ply the board would be fairly thick @ 1 1/8”. If that thickness is more than you can handle, use 1/2“ ply, but I wouldn’t be as confident, mainly b/c thinner ply isn’t as stable, and itself could be the cause of a warp.
If you want the most stable result, use veneer. 😁
Will definitely use 3/4.... if not more than (3/4 + 1/2 or even 3/4*2) and will also have a border. After the board is made I will work on making it a table top, likely with a drawer.

The reason I am using the solid maple/apple and not veneer is because the wood it came from have meaning, as opposed to buying the products. Thats why even though the contrast isnt great between the two woods, its good enough.
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
6,954 Posts
Dont expect to make veneer yourself with a cheap band saw unless of course, you are referring to a good band saw that is old and in good condition.
 

· The Nut in the Cellar
Joined
·
1,985 Posts
Equally finish ALL surfaces of the completed piece to keep it as stable as possible. Even cabinets should be finished inside and out and left to cure before closing them up. This was taught to me by a professional cabinet maker. Never had any warpage with this methodology.
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
4,781 Posts
Will definitely use 3/4.... if not more than (3/4 + 1/2 or even 3/4*2) and will also have a border. After the board is made I will work on making it a table top, likely with a drawer.

The reason I am using the solid maple/apple and not veneer is because the wood it came from have meaning, as opposed to buying the products. Thats why even though the contrast isnt great between the two woods, its good enough.
You’ll be fine.

If you can get access to a drum samder that is the ideal way to level the top.
Equally finish ALL surfaces of the completed piece to keep it as stable as possible. Even cabinets should be finished inside and out and left to cure before closing them up. This was taught to me by a professional cabinet maker. Never had any warpage with this methodology.
This is an urban legend 😁
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
6,954 Posts
I always spray my finish on both sides just ... because.
I have refinished at least several thousand antiques in my day and I will tell you that it was a rare day that both sides of a table top or insides of furniture were finished.
Adding a hard finish on both will slow down moisture transfer from the air into the furniture which helps keep it stable. Maybe in the days before heat and air conditioning the fire place did a good job of keeping the air dry - I dunno. Summer time........ no explaining.
Anyway. that was just an observation.
 

· Registered
Termite
Joined
·
9,444 Posts
Equally finish ALL surfaces of the completed piece to keep it as stable as possible. Even cabinets should be finished inside and out and left to cure before closing them up. This was taught to me by a professional cabinet maker. Never had any warpage with this methodology.
x2….There will always be that one that didn’t get the memo…
 

· Registered
Termite
Joined
·
9,444 Posts
I always spray my finish on both sides just ... because.
I have refinished at least several thousand antiques in my day and I will tell you that it was a rare day that both sides of a table top or insides of furniture were finished.
Adding a hard finish on both will slow down moisture transfer from the air into the furniture which helps keep it stable. Maybe in the days before heat and air conditioning the fire place did a good job of keeping the air dry - I dunno. Summer time........ no explaining.
Anyway. that was just an observation.
x2…
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,650 Posts
I just posted in the New Members section and tried to explain that, while Ive always done rough work, I havent done very much fine detail work. So, I recently started my first project, a chess board table.

First of course is the chess board. I had some apple and maple woods, split along time ago from trees that were taken down and have been sitting it the garage for 20 years. I know the dark color is usually a walnut or mahogany but the amber of the apple is certainly enough contrast.

I cut my strips of each, 12" long, 2.25 wide, 3/8 thick. I know the 12" isnt long enough to provide all the spaces but I cut 6 strips of each color.

So a number of concerns. My plan was simply to glue the 3/8 chessboard onto a a piece of 3/4 plywood or mdf and that would be the table top. But then I started surfing the net and read horror story after horror story from people that made chess boards and they warped terribly. And not just chess boards, everything.

It completely paralyzed me. Im now convinced that whatever I make, be it a chess board or a picture frame, Im going to bring it inside and wake up the next morning with a warped, cupped, twisted mess.

Do I need to do anything special to guard against this? Is it a legit concern if using old dried wood? I do work in the garage which tends to be more humid than my house, I suppose (at least in the summer), to the extant that matters.

A little more detail, the strips I cut are about 3/8. The maple is all actually 1/2 the apple is 3/8. And without a thickness planer not sure how I could get them all the same except to glue them flush and then run them on the jointer or use a hand plane.

My original plan was to not worry about it too much. Just glue them flush and then epoxy the "bad" side to the plywood which would fill the gaps. Or would it matter if there were gaps under the pieces that are 3/8?

In any case, that is when I started surfing and came across all the warping horror stories.

Any thoughts from the more experienced?
All wood moves, it is a matter of balance. Wood can have internal stresses and when you change the balance of those stresses, it will move to stabilize the stresses. There are steps you can take to minimize wood movement, but nothing can stop it. As for the chess board If you mount the pieces on plywood or MDF make sure you seal the bottom of the plywood/MDF. What you do to one side, do to the other. The glue, whether it be Titebond or epoxy will act as a sealer. Once the squares are complete on the top, seal them also. As for the different thicknesses you can make the board up with the two different thicknesses of apple and maple. To level them simply put equal straight stock on each side, make a carriage to hold your router, and level the chess board with a router, If you need to know how to do this there are plenty of Youtube videos and it is a common technique for leveling slabs.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I have refinished at least several thousand antiques in my day and I will tell you that it was a rare day that both sides of a table top or insides of furniture were finished.
Unless this was a typo, it sounds like although you finish both sides, almost all pieces you have seen were NOT both finished. Soooo, doesnt that mean it is, in fact, more myth? Im confused because some comments after your seemed to say finish both sides. Sounds like one of those issues where there seems to be little agreement? At the very least I dont see the harm in finishing both sides.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
To level them simply put equal straight stock on each side, make a carriage to hold your router, and level the chess board with a router, If you need to know how to do this there are plenty of Youtube videos and it is a common technique for leveling slabs.
Ahh, so it is alternative to a thickness planer? I'll likely hand plane to get close and then finish up with the router on a sled.
 
1 - 20 of 62 Posts
Top