Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: can you flatten a 1/4 inch thick piece?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Granby, Connecticut - on the Mass border
    Posts
    315

    can you flatten a 1/4 inch thick piece?

    Folks - I have a small piece of red oak that is wildly figured, that I'd like to use for veneering onto another piece in order to use it for a drawer false front. Problem is, it's also wildly warped. The thickness ranges from 1/4" to almost 1/2"; other dimensions are 7" x 20", and eventually the drawer front will be 5" x 17". It is both cupped and bowed, making it sort of saddle-shaped.

    I was wondering if anyone has ever tried to flatten such a piece. I was considering soaking it in a tub for a few days, then maybe parking my tractor on it or something while it dries. If I can get it anywhere near flat, then I would think I could machine it into something like a thick piece of veneer. In case it matters, it was air dried. It's a slice off a crotch section, giving it both that figure and warpage. The rest of the crotch (it was pretty large) was made into a bar top and is spectacular. The friend who cut it and made the bar top gave me this piece as he figured it was useless (and he's probably right).

    Fool's errand? Doable? Thoughts appreciated.

    Ken

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    8,888
    Folks flatten veneer - the 1/28” kind - by soaking it in a flattening solution and pressing it flat while it dries. Maybe the same stuff would work on your thick wood. Look on veneer sites for pre-mixed solution, or look around for recipes for shop-brewed solution.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Houston TX
    Posts
    48
    It might be possible to get a flat surface with some very careful and strategic hand planing. Try and leverage the thicker spots to remove the warpage.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    7,066
    The thickness ranges from 1/4" to almost 1/2"; other dimensions are 7" x 20", and eventually the drawer front will be 5" x 17". It is both cupped and bowed, making it sort of saddle-shaped.
    The ideal tool for me would be a hand plane. For others it would be a drum sander.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  5. #5
    I have never tried wetting and flattening. I have hand planed one side flat and run pieces through the thickness sander or re-sawed them with the flat side against the tall fence on the band saw.
    Once for a piece with a long gradual bend I glued it to a thicker piece of stock to hold it flat while re-sawing it into thick (~0.090") veneer. That worked pretty well.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Phoenix AZ
    Posts
    511
    This Wood magazine article may help. It shows different planer sleds that you can use to flatten wood with different “problems”.

    https://www.woodmagazine.com/woodwor.../truing-lumber
    “Pay no attention to what you cannot control..” Epictetus, 100 A.D.
    It costs nothing to be kind to others

  7. #7
    Depending on how figured the wood is, be careful about running it through the planer. If the grain starts going closer to 90 degrees from the planer bed, it can tear completely out. If it is bad enough it can shatter in the planer. Definitely light cuts. If it is highly figured crotch wood, you might be better off with wetting, flattening, and trying to bandsaw it, but no guarantees there either. Drum sander is probably your best bet if one is available.

    Your friend might be right that the piece is useless

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Alberta
    Posts
    1,345
    I would not call a piece of wood "useless''. There is always the fireplace or wood stove. That being said at the very least you will learn more trying different things to flatten it.

  9. #9
    I'd use a drum sander to get it thinner. Then I'd glue it to the drawer front with a vacuum bag and a caul to press it flat. You want it thin so it will press flat.

    Don't try a planer. The most likely outcome is that the piece will be destroyed in the planer as you take it down.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
    Posts
    3,631
    I would glue it to the drawer front and plane it down in place never to be unglued.
    Bill D.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Granby, Connecticut - on the Mass border
    Posts
    315
    Thanks folks. I won't try the planer, thanks for the warnings. I had been wondering about using the planer, but it seemed like a bad idea with a chance of utter disaster. I'm going to try my Jet 10/20 sander, get the thing thinner, then glue it to a backer board like Bill and Pete suggested, and see if I can then plane the combo piece down to the thickness I need for the drawer front (3/4").

    If this works I'll be surprised, but to me it's fun to waste time trying to do something with figured wood. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not.

    Ken

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Platt View Post
    Thanks folks. I won't try the planer, thanks for the warnings. I had been wondering about using the planer, but it seemed like a bad idea with a chance of utter disaster. I'm going to try my Jet 10/20 sander, get the thing thinner, then glue it to a backer board like Bill and Pete suggested, and see if I can then plane the combo piece down to the thickness I need for the drawer front (3/4").

    If this works I'll be surprised, but to me it's fun to waste time trying to do something with figured wood. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not.

    Ken
    This should succeed just fine if you get the piece flat before you glue it to your drawer board. Once you get it glued, don't try to plane the front. Plane the back to get it down to 3/4 inch. If you plane (or even sand it hard) you could expose the drawer board and ruin your work.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Platt View Post
    If this works I'll be surprised, but to me it's fun to waste time trying to do something with figured wood. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not.
    If you can get one side flat I don't see any reason why it shouldn't work fine. Even if you can only get one side fairly flat (close enough to use the band saw or thickness sander to get the other side flat) then you should be able to work from that face to get the other side flat.

    With one side flat, the backer board could be the actual drawer front, and the glue joint permanent. If there is a lot of stress maybe sand it fairly thin in the thickness sander (maybe 1/8"?) even if you don't want to go to actual veneer thickness.

    I don't see why everyone is so pessimistic about the likelihood of using this piece. I know that I manage to get some kind of usage out of all kinds of crazy pieces. Some of these pieces can be really beautiful. If I really thought it would fail as a drawer front, I'd find some other way to use it, even it I had to slice it into a few tiny pieces of veneer. I have used pieces like this one or even much smaller ones as small accent pieces. Recently I used a few such pieces as faces on peg heads on dulcimers. I have made tiny boxes, used them as inlays, or used them as handles for something. A production shop may not have time for such nonsense, but I am mostly retired and my business is more of a boutique business so customers like little details like that. Also I can take time to just make stuff just for the heck of it. I am not sure what your situation is, but the fact that you ask the question suggests that you probably are not the kind of production shop knocking out cabinets with no time to deal with nonsense like this.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    1,137
    My approach, sand the good side then resaw using a point fence, then flatten.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •