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Thread: 3x3 oak cracking

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Warren, MI>
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    3x3 oak cracking

    Hello,
    I'm new to woodworking and I'm having a problem I'm hoping to get some help with...
    From the beginning, I buy rough sawn 4x4's and mill it down to 3 or 3 1/2 sq. It is pretty moist when
    I get it....I let it set (in my basement) for 2 days then I plane it down. Its still pretty moist but my problem
    is that it cracks quit a bit.Is there any way to prevent this from happening ? These are set up blocks
    for boring mills and they cannot have cracks all through them....any help would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Escondido, CA
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    5,172
    4x4 dimension lumber used for building construction is wet wood. Generally, they are not kiln dried. They would become too expensive. As you cut and mill the wood, it is drying and will crack. Also many 4x4's also include the pith of the tree, a sure path to cracking and splitting. The pith is the very center around which all the rings grow. Generally you do not want it anywhere in your project. It spells trouble. I can explain why, but I will only if you ask. Most people don't care.

    If you need wood set-up blocks that stay stable, I would suggest the pattern maker's wood friend, mahogany. You likely will have to face glue it to the block size you want. I doubt it can be found in a 4x4 dimension. Don't dismiss this as being too expensive. Look into it first.

    Your need here for really dimensionally stable wood limits your choices, but one them is not 4x4's from the borgs. Hardwoods are normally kiln dried and you should have better luck. White oak or osage orange would also be candidates. Dried oak is best bought already dimensioned and drying oak is an art form. Osage orange would depend on where you live and whether there are lumber mills around. It is not something you can find at every lumber yard and certainly the borgs.

    Do consider buying 4/4 lumber and face gluing. You are not likely to find 4x4 hardwood stock anywhere and if you could, the price would knock your socks off. Gluing 4/4 stock will be much less expensive. So go for the good stuff and save yourself some grief.

    BTW, borg means a place like Home Depot. Thought I'd offer that because you said you were new to this world.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Warren, MI>
    Posts
    12
    thank you for the borg explain....I did not know what it meant ..
    I knew it was not kiln dried because a mill wanted 2.35 a bf....im getting this stuff for a 1.40 a lf...
    They are just used for clamping...one end on wood,other on plate. dont know if you needed to know that...
    But,I live in Warren MI. and im getting this from Ulrich lumber..I actually got 1 set to 14" made.(they range from 2" to 16" with 4 of each)
    They dont sell for very much so i really cant put that much into them...Some shops find the heavy skids and skim the wood from them
    and use them ....There is nothing I could put in my basement to possibly help out a little ?? Im not sure if face gluing would hold or not....
    Oh ! by the way ,they are not precision set up blocks...they just have to be flat on the ends because they will stack a couple together end to end
    to get the height...sorry I should of said that......

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Escondido, CA
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    Glue is stronger than wood fibers when applied properly. Properly is in warm enough temperatures, spread evenly, thin coats both faces. Titebond has proven itself to me many times over.

    It appears you are making these for sale. OK, then you must consider two other things. One, time is your friends if you need to dry this first. Create a drying environment [many ways to skin this cat] and weight and measure. Likely it will take more than a few weeks. In large pieces the rule of thumb seems to be 1" per year. However, rough cut, say 1/2" bigger in each dimension than you need, and place the chunks into a plastic garbage bag and seal. Remove them and turn the bag inside out each day. Replace the chucks in the bag and seal. Do this until there is no more moisture in the bag. Don't skip a day when wet. It will mold. Some people add wood shavings to the bag to help absorb the water, but they don't turn out the bag each day either. Still get mold, but then it is what they are lookng for. You aren't.

    The other issue is waste. Material you cannot use still counts as cost to your product. Don't forget to figure that in. And your time is worth something. These are the issues you are juggling. Sharpen your pencil and come on back if you need more information.

    FWIW, I have been self employed as a woodworker since the early '90's. Have some hard won knowledge I am willing to pass along.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Oceanside, So. Calif. 5 mi. to the ocean
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    4,944
    I have glued things face to face with Titebond. You do not take them apart. The wood will be destroyed before the pieces separate at the glue line. You cannot even put a chisel on the glue line and bash it with a mallet. The glue line remains while the wood is torn apart. That stuff is tough.

    I hope you solve your problem. Carol is one smart lady. Listen to her.

    Enjoy,

    JimB
    First of all you have to be smarter than the machine.
    VOTING MEMBER

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Warren, MI>
    Posts
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    Thank you very much for all the help...The face glueing will for sure work on the smaller sets then.
    Oh and Carol, I have read some of the things you respond to in this forum and iI can certainly tell you know your stuff..
    I have 60 pcs 4x4 by 3ft long..I cut a few of them down to 3 3/8 sq. One of the problems I have is 3 herniated disc's and for
    me to try to move all that wood around every day may take me out..(no woes me here,i work my butt off then rest and go back at it.)
    I am dissabled and a buddy asked me to do this for a little extra side money.I know you dont need to know all that but when i say i may not be
    able to do something i dont want you to think its because im lazy....
    Back to the subject...Would a dehumidifier help any???It would help draw some water out...I would think I wouldnt want to draw it out too fast
    would I....Just wondering

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Westphalia, Michigan
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    Mitchell, It would be best to start with kiln dried wood because of it's stability. If you feel you have to stick with the wood you have, I would rip the 4x4's down to 1" (or less) and glue them back together. What you are doing is relieving some of the internal stress in the wood. When you glue the pieces back together you will want to flip every other piece so that the wood grain no longer matches up. This will make a stronger set up block, less likely to split or crack.

    Granted, when you rip those blocks down they will probably warp and twist some. Having a jointer will cure this problem. If the blocks might be used on a boring mill with coolant you will want to seal them well, especially the end grain. So a water resistant glue would be best. (Titebond III ) Either that or use white oak. It will stain black, but is fairly water resistant.
    I'm a certifiable tree hugger. (it's a poor mans way of determining DBH before cutting the tree down)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    1,448
    To me the best thing about gluing together layers is the ability to start with wood that has already been dried. As Carol points out, you can air dry an inch thickness per year, just by stacking the wood. Softer woods dry faster. Heat dries faster (many kilns are run close to boiling point). Ventilation dries faster. Thin wood dries a LOT faster. Then after you have nice dry wood, flatten it and glue it together.

    I haven't followed exactly what you are doing, but remember that wood shrinks across the grain, but almost none in length - along the grain. So fight the thickness/width, but the length will take care of itself.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Warren, MI>
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    Thank you for all the input....Cutting yhem down actually sounds pretty good.....
    I use titebond glue also..I have been talking with the guy that wants these and he is not
    worried about them being glued up so that just might be the way to go............

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