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Thread: Need advice on wide pine boards

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Amherst, New Hampshire
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    10,604

    Need advice on wide pine boards

    I'm making a hope chest for my daughter. In the past I have always used panels. She saw a picture of a chest made of single pieces of wide pine and fell in love with it.
    Actually the wood she saw was cherry, but I cant afford cherry right now.


    Need some advice:
    I do have access to wide pine boards from 12" wide to 24" wide. These were cut 4 or 5 years ago and air dried in a warehouse.
    I also have access to 1" antique barn board and floor boards ( 200+ years old).
    Note: there is enough of both types of pine to get clear boards.

    I'm concerned that the boards will cup over time and ruin the chest. I have heard that if you run several shallow kerfs lengthwise on the back side of the boards they will not cup???

    Since my dovetail jig doesnt accommodate boards as wide as I need I may have to try and cut my own. Will dovetails keep the boards from cupping or will they cause it to crack under stress?

    Would I be better off gluing up the panels instead of using a single wide board??

    If I attempt to make my own dovetails can someone suggest an affordable saw?

    I really don't want to screw this up so any help will be really appreciated.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
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    8,529
    Bob,
    How are you going to construct the box. What I mean is will the panel be inside a frame. It might be easier to answer your question if we know how you were going to use them. I just did a restoration on a trunion table where the top was made from 8/4 pine. The top was 34" wide and made from wide panels. There was some minor cupping but the table is over 50 years old and had only been finished on 1 side. Funney thing is the joint where the board were oined together should no siges of movement. There were no seperation crack showing.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    Wow, Bob, you ask tough questions. I'll be interested to see what the experts say.

    Any board that is flatsawn will have a tendency to cup...the direction of cupping can be seen by looking at the end of the board...think of the board trying to straighten out the growth rings...that's how it will cup. Don't include any of the core of the tree...guaranteed trouble. Try for quartersawn growth ring direction, even if you have to cut out the core and then glue it back up. Quartersawn won't cup, and it's easier to match quartersawn growth ring pattern in a glue up so it looks like a single board. This pattern is parallel growth rings end to end along the surface of the board. It's not as pretty as the flatsawn pattern, but much less trouble in a wide surface like you're talking about. I haven't heard about the backside kerfs and the idea kind of puts me off so I wouldn't it do it just because...but hey, whatever works.

    The dovetails will do an excellent job of keeping the joints together, but if the moisture exchange of the wood is too excessive there will be give somewhere else. So this is more an issue of moisture content and moisture exchange than strength of dovetails. Remember that wood will stabilize over time with its environment, so if you have a piece of wood that was milled 5 years ago and air-dried in a 17% humidity environment, that's what the MC will be. If you move it to an 8% environment, before long it will stabilize to that...and do some moving in the process. Get your hands on a moisture meter so you know what you're working with. NH is one of those northeastern states that tends to be low humidity in the winter (6% or so) and high humidity in the summer. Ongoing wood movement needs to be considered, and there's a little bit of voodoo in that, particularly in wide-board surfaces.

    As far as handcutting dovetails...practice, practice, practice. And after you've practiced, practice some more. Which dovetail saw is best?...well, how long is a piece of string?...how high is up? Japanese saws cut on the pull stroke, western saws the opposite. Personally I like the pull stroke...seems easier and the blade can be made thinner, but that's just me. You have to try it. And don't forget to practice. And you will need some chisels...very sharp chisels.

    Good luck. Pics please.

    Cheers.

  4. #4
    The barn boards could be an issue. If they came from a barn that had livestock in them, the sweat, urine and manure from the animals can saturate the wood over time even if those three things do not directly land on the wood. All seems well until you finish the project and your daughter brings it into her home and the heat begins to radiate that stench. A few years back, old barn boards were all the rage until some people started finishing their bathrooms with the stuff only to find out this problem.

    If the barn has never had livestock in it though, you are good to go and should not have any problems.

    As for a cheap dovetail saw...no joking on this...use a hacksaw if you need too. It works just fine, it just cuts slow.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    East Freeetown, Massachusetts
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    Bob,

    Yeah - construction is KEY.

    I make a chest for my daughter 5-6 years ago.

    I used a raised panel construction for the sides and front panels

    The sides had 1 raised panel on each side

    The front is three raised panels.

    The panels are 12" wide +/- 1/2 inch or so, and they are 18 inches tall, and 3/4 thick. Rails and stiles are about 2-2-1/2 wide.

    Bottom of the chest is plywood - as well as the back.

    I used 3/4 veneer ply bordered with solid wood for the lid.

    I lined it with cedar - The stuff you can get at Home Depot for closets.

    I used poly - and did not finish the inside

    Here we are 5 years later - no problems.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Amherst, New Hampshire
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    real good points, the help is very much appreciated. every chest/toy box that i'vd made so far has been frame and panel. My daughter liked the look of single wide boards so I thought I would give it a try. It just dawned on me that all the wide pine boards are rough sawn and my planer only goes to 12". I'll have to rip the pieces and glue up like Ed suggested.

    I never even considered the source of the barn board Travis. Chances are good that the barn used to hold cows. I can picture everyone walking around sniffing the air to figure where the stink is coming from and me blaming the dog

    I think that I'm going to try and dovetail the sides and front Don. Gotta try and sharpen the chisels today. You sure do interesting projects. I've never heard of a trunion table before.

    Good idea on the cedar lining Leo. I think that she would really like that. I made a cedar box once for my mom when I was a kid, I shellacked the whole thing inside and out.
    She never once mentioned that she couldn't smell the cedar.

    Thanks for the help
    Last edited by Bob Gibson; 08-29-2009 at 05:33 PM.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  7. #7
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    .,.,.,
    Last edited by John Bartley; 12-05-2010 at 10:10 PM.

  8. #8
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    Jul 2009
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    Thats exactly what she wants John, The one she saw was cherry. I'm thinking now about making it from maple with a cedar lining. Maple, like pine is pretty common up here and isn't too expensive. I think that it would give the chest a little classier look than the pine. Lucky for me I live in an area where there are several family lumber mills in every town and have got to know a few pretty well.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  9. #9
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    .,.,.,
    Last edited by John Bartley; 12-04-2010 at 01:53 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Thanks John, It stopped raining so I'm heading to the lumber mill this morning to check it out.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

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