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Thread: wood movement

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Mount Vernon, Ohio
    Posts
    75

    Question wood movement

    I've been reading a lot about wood movement and considerations to keep in mind about it but,,,, I have questions.
    Movement seems to be caused by varying moisture content in the wood itself. Moisture seems to be received through the end grain for the most part and expelled throughout. Am I right so far?
    If I am right then, wouldn't a sealer or some sort of "building" finish eliminate this problem? If moisture has no way in, the movement would be stopped, IMO.
    Can anyone help me wrap my head around this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    East Freeetown, Massachusetts
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    3,014
    To my knowledge there is nothing to eliminate or completely stop wood movement.

    There is tons of information about how to deal with it and plan on it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Escondido, CA
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    Moisture more easily is released through end grain, but wood takes on and releases moisture across its grain. Like Leo said, it is never totally contained. You don't have your location posted so it is hard to tell you what to plan for. A reasonable rule of thumb is 1/4" across one foot. As an example, a panel door that is 12" wide would have the panel centered in its opening and would be able to move 1/8" on either side of center. That said, different woods, different rates of movement, but generally, not substantially so.

    Movement can be planned for in various ways. If it is a inset, then maybe a little more space allowed. If it is a door, rails and styles and a panel rather than a slab. And certainly, during the finishing process, attention to sealing the end grain.

    Most important. Wood moves. Period. How much has lots of variables. It is important to begin with dry wood to allow whatever weird movement that will happen, happen and go from there. Every buy a 2x4 that was on the heavy side and leave it for a few weeks in a warm area to come back and find it has turned itself into a pretzel? And it was a whole lot lighter? You will know what I mean. That's why houses tend not to have flat walls. The wood it slapped up while it is still wet with the idea that nails or screws will keep in it place. Not over the long haul they won't.

    So what are you planning on making?
    ++++++

    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

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    Wapakoneta, OH
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    I can't add anything to what's been said already, but even the way the wood is cut can affect movement. Quarter sawn will react differently then flat sawn wood of the same species and just planning on dealing with it is the successful way to build something. I'm quite surprised by the number of folks who do something, and then "seal it" with whatever. Can't be done, and don't let anyone convince you otherwise. That said, it often does make sense to make sure whatever finish you use is consistent across the piece. Finishing the top of a board and not the bottom can cause one side to react differently than the other....and you get warping, cupping, or some other malady.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
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    5,317
    Leo and Carol have pretty well answered your questions.

    One other considerations is the changes in humidity wherever you live. Some areas don't change much seasonally, but others vary widely.

    Another consideration is where the wood is located. If it's furniture, doors, or cabinetry in a year-round climate controlled home (winter heat; summer air conditioning) then seasonal changes will be slight, if at all. Outside storage, or non-climate controlled, can result in changes of a quarter inch or more per foot of width.

    By the way, if you edit your personal profile here, you can add your location. It needn't be specific - just a general area, state, city, etc. Whatever you're comfortable with.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Independence MO
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    557
    Dried wood is petrified wood. Otherwise it can and will absorb moisture as well as drying (swell and shrink) out as it ages (why things such as oil are used to polish furniture).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Humid Gulf Coast
    Posts
    542
    Wood will always move in size with the seasons.
    It's kind of fun to do the impossible

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Mount Vernon, Ohio
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    Thank you all for your input. It's not that I'm unfamiliar with the concept of wood movement. I've planned on movement ever since my 1st project: Click image for larger version. 

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    I wanted to learn about raised panel construction at that time, and I did. There is a total of 12 raised panels on this desk including the contoured ones for the top. All assembled using space balls mostly to keep everything centered.
    I just started thinking more about it since I'm now making a lot of keepsake/jewelry boxes and there is no allowance for movement on these and I have not had any problems over the past 3-4 years with the ones I've made.
    Carol, I'm eleven miles from the geographical center of Ohio where temperatures and humidity are subject to change at any moment.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Pozzi View Post
    ...I'm eleven miles from the geographical center of Ohio where temperatures and humidity are subject to change at any moment.
    I'm about 125 NE of you, in Austintown.

    Ever get over to Millersburg, Berlin, or Charm? We go to Berlin/Charm fairly often. Keim Lumber & Hardware in Charm is a really great place for tools, etc. A few miles up the road, there's Lehman's Hardware in Kidron - a really interesting 'Amish" hardware store.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Croton, Ohio (about a half hour NE of Columbus)
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    153
    Hey Roger, I'm just a few miles south of you in Croton. Grew up in Howard and still have a lot of family in the Mt. Vernon area.

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