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Thread: Stumped. Anyone know how this is done?

  1. #1

    Stumped. Anyone know how this is done?

    Trying to make one of the old French country style serving boards. They're typically round or rectangular and thin - no more than 1/2" thick. They all have a strap of wood inset, maybe 1" wide, running perpendicular to the woodgrain of the board on one side.

    I put an image below and hope that works. You can see one here: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/pr...BNFPwNmxQmcuLg

    I've tried several. Every one has cupped horribly. Not a little, a LOT - a 10-12" board will cup at least an inch on each side. The inside of the cup is always opposite the strap. It happens regardless of the species of wood (have used white oak, hard maple, American chestnut and cherry), the size/shape of the board, how dry the wood is and the humidity when it's built. I've cut the wood and let it sit before flattening and assembly and cut, flattened and assembled right away. Always the exact same result.

    I can only imagine they're held in with glue. I can't see any joinery or pins.

    I get there's wood movement and the panel will shrink and expand across it's width and the strap won't move along it's length. I've made ones without the strap that are fine. But, with the strap, massive failure.

    How do you get these things to stay flat? There's so many of these old boards, there's got to be a way. I'm stumped.

    Suggestions, advice and secrets appreciated! Thanks in advance.

    frenchbreadboard.jpg

  2. #2
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    If the non-strapped version stays flat, then consider doing a veneer inlay to simulate the thicker straps if you really want that look. Alternatively make the straps insert into a sliding dovetail and only glue one end.
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  3. #3
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    Could there be straps on both faces? That way you'd have balanced stresses as the wood tries to move.

  4. #4
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    The only way to keep a board that wide and thin flat is to select a board that is perfectly quarter sawn. When looking at the grain on the end, the growth rings must run perfectly perpendicular to the face of the board. Unlikely to find one like that 12" wide so you may need to glue up pieces. The book "Understanding Wood" will teach you why.

  5. #5
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    Those in the picture appear to be made from several narrow pieces edge-glued. I'd try true quartersawn pieces.

    From your description the strips seem to be thin. Could the boards be picking up moisture from the glue on one side?

  6. #6
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    The only way I would use a cross grain board is with a sliding dovetail and a little wood peg in the middle. A wood toothpick makes a great tiny dowel.

  7. #7
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    At least some are dovetailed. You can see it in this detail pic.

    board.jpg
    "The Danish government believes that if we train 5,000 designers, and produce
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    Could there be straps on both faces? That way you'd have balanced stresses as the wood tries to move.
    Nope. Straps are only ever on one side.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Jensen View Post
    The only way to keep a board that wide and thin flat is to select a board that is perfectly quarter sawn. When looking at the grain on the end, the growth rings must run perfectly perpendicular to the face of the board. Unlikely to find one like that 12" wide so you may need to glue up pieces. The book "Understanding Wood" will teach you why.
    I get the joke on the whys and hows of wood movement, that's a big reason why I find this a vexing problem. Yep, all these boards are edge glued panels. While your point on quartersawn is a great one to keep strapless boards flat, I'm not sure it helps solve this mystery.

    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post
    Those in the picture appear to be made from several narrow pieces edge-glued. I'd try true quartersawn pieces. From your description the strips seem to be thin. Could the boards be picking up moisture from the glue on one side?
    Yep. All narrow pieces edge glued. They're often different widths, too. The straps are thin, typically less than an 1" wide and 1/8" to 1/4" thick. These boards are usually very old - I hadn't thought about the glue causing a problem. Maybe there's something to the glue they used 100+ years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    If the non-strapped version stays flat, then consider doing a veneer inlay to simulate the thicker straps if you really want that look. Alternatively make the straps insert into a sliding dovetail and only glue one end.
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Coers View Post
    The only way I would use a cross grain board is with a sliding dovetail and a little wood peg in the middle. A wood toothpick makes a great tiny dowel.
    The sliding dovetail is a good idea. I'm sure that would work. I'm still stumped, however, on how every other schmoe with a farm across Western Europe made these things 100+ years ago, often pretty crudely from scrap wood, including pine. We're not talking about fine craftsmen here. But, maybe the dovetails on these old boards are just really subtle and I'm not giving them the credit they deserve. IDK.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by glenn bradley View Post
    At least some are dovetailed. You can see it in this detail pic.board.jpg
    That might be it. I can't see the picture, but I'll look more closely at the ones I can see.

  10. #10
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    I’d also try quartersawn first as well. What’s interesting is that the boards you pictured all look to have flatsawn stock. I’m sorta surprised they’ve stayed so flat, even with the sliding dovetail bar.

  11. #11
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    Looks like the cross supports are pinned on one side. Id assume these are dovetailed as well.
    1940s-French-Boulangerie-Board-1-Back-Weston-Table_1024x.jpg
    1940s-French-Boulangerie-Board-Weston-Table_1024x.jpg

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hill View Post
    Nope. Straps are only ever on one side.



    I get the joke on the whys and hows of wood movement, that's a big reason why I find this a vexing problem. Yep, all these boards are edge glued panels. While your point on quartersawn is a great one to keep strapless boards flat, I'm not sure it helps solve this mystery.



    Yep. All narrow pieces edge glued. They're often different widths, too. The straps are thin, typically less than an 1" wide and 1/8" to 1/4" thick. These boards are usually very old - I hadn't thought about the glue causing a problem. Maybe there's something to the glue they used 100+ years ago.





    The sliding dovetail is a good idea. I'm sure that would work. I'm still stumped, however, on how every other schmoe with a farm across Western Europe made these things 100+ years ago, often pretty crudely from scrap wood, including pine. We're not talking about fine craftsmen here. But, maybe the dovetails on these old boards are just really subtle and I'm not giving them the credit they deserve. IDK.

    That could very well be.

    John

  13. #13
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    100 years ago, most farm homes didn't have central heat. I know we didn't have central heat in our farm home that long ago, and we lived on a farm in Central IL. The first furnace that went in our home was just before I was born in 52. By the way, the 3 generations of farmers in my family were not schmoes.

  14. #14
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    I donít think they are very old. I would expect to see more wear knife marks chunks missing from the edge from getting dropped or thrown by a grumpy cook.
    It would be a miracle that one would last that long going against Mother Nature.
    Aj

  15. #15
    Use QS pieces for the top and the battens, and make everything quartersawn - especially the battens.

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