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Thread: Stumped. Anyone know how this is done?

  1. #16
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    Those things are only 10 - 12" in diameter. Pizza peels aren't much thicker, maybe 5/8", but are much larger and they stay pretty flat, certainly no large cupping. I don't think it mattered that old homes had no central heat, they still got dry as a bone in Winter, at least in the kitchen where the cook stove was and where these things would have been used. I don't think QS stock is key either. Plain sawn stock 3 or 4 inches wide with every board flipped should be fine, again, like a pizza peel. Just don't glue in the batten. Set it in a shallow DT and pin the center.

    John

  2. #17
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    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.
    ^That would be my answer as well.
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  3. #18
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    I would think these were not made by the user. Rather, these were probably trade items made by itinerant woodworkers that made a living traveling and making these and other wood or metal things useful in the kitchen.

    The sliding dovetail can b e made with one or two specialty planes, and that is what takes it out of the user making them - those dovetails got the farmer scratching his head - he did not know how to make them.

    Not too long ago, anthropologists were looking for ways the settlers could carry water at a Jamestown excavation. They found lots of slatted parts, but nothing that would make something that would hold water. But then an enterprising amateur woodworker described how cooper built waterproof barrels - a technology well known at the time of the settlement. They then realized the slats made a bucket with vertical grain, and cordage - leather or other - that would sit in a groove of sorts and held the slats tight, as long as it was kept wet, all was tight and - wood wins again.

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  4. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Coers View Post
    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.
    Sincerest apologies. I meant no offense to hard working farmers of any generation.

    My point was, given the ubiquity of these boards, they were likely not made by highly skilled woodworkers with the finest of tools of the finest of quartersawn hardwoods for the local gentry. They were made by regular guys using common 19th century farmhouse tools for their own table. It also seems odd that they'd meticulously craft perfect, subtle sliding dovetails and then be satisfied with out of square/round boards and lopsided handles (as many of them are).

    Nevertheless, please accept my apology to all generations of farmers in your family.
    Last edited by Mark Hill; 02-23-2021 at 4:50 PM.

  5. #20
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    If the boards are thin enough a dovetailed cross piece may hold them flat. still need to be nearly perfectly quartersawn. bet the old examples are

  6. #21
    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    Those things are only 10 - 12" in diameter. Pizza peels aren't much thicker, maybe 5/8", but are much larger and they stay pretty flat, certainly no large cupping. I don't think it mattered that old homes had no central heat, they still got dry as a bone in Winter, at least in the kitchen where the cook stove was and where these things would have been used. I don't think QS stock is key either. Plain sawn stock 3 or 4 inches wide with every board flipped should be fine, again, like a pizza peel. Just don't glue in the batten. Set it in a shallow DT and pin the center.
    Quote Originally Posted by David Sochar View Post
    I would think these were not made by the user. Rather, these were probably trade items made by itinerant woodworkers that made a living traveling and making these and other wood or metal things useful in the kitchen.

    The sliding dovetail can b e made with one or two specialty planes, and that is what takes it out of the user making them - those dovetails got the farmer scratching his head - he did not know how to make them.
    Excellent points.

    Looking more carefully at more photos, the batten frequently extends past the edge of the board as breadboards ends do when the panel shrinks. Seems like sliding dovetails are the answer. Now, it's off to the hop to see if I can get this to work.

    Thanks to all for the ideas.

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hill View Post
    ...
    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....
    Old stuff often used hide glue. If picking up moisture from the glue had been a problem then, perhaps they clamped or weighted a stack of these to hold them flat for long enough for the moisture to equilibrate and even dry. I'd still think about using quartersawn wood.

    JKJ

  8. #23
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    I dont think the cross grain strap is really anything more than a half measured attempt to keep the paddle flat as its used to motivate your wife or children into doing repetitive rudimentary tasks that they resist doing. The cross grain strap is likely just there for keeping the board in-tact as opposed to splitting in half upon heavy striking.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  9. #24
    Agree with Mark. My guess is they they were just wiped off on both sides after use with damp cloth, then hung from ceiling so that air would
    be same on both sides. Seen pics of them stored like that.

  10. #25
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    My wife inherited several large boards for making dough (doughnuts, cookies, bread, etc.). They are easily well over 100 years old. Not a single one of them is "flat" by today's standards. From what I understand they would wet the board before use. I haven't found out if they did it just before using it or a day or two. I don't know if it was to get the board to flatten some or if there was another purpose (like not having the dough stick). These are also very utilitarian. Are you sure you're not trying to make something that looks very nice that copies something that was made to serve a purpose?

  11. #26
    The boards in the initial picture are clearly not made from fine quartersawn wood. If anything they look like they are made of scraps, and not high quality ones either. I do think the dovetailed battens serve a purpose; they went out of their way to make a fairly complex joint and that they are a sliding locking joint is suggestive that they are to allow movement. Hide glue would not have survive wetting of wood that thin, so either they used some waterproof glue available 100 years ago (what though?) or the flat pieces are not held together with glue.

  12. #27
    Whether or not pizza peals or these boards are lying flat without qs wood is a moot point. I've made plenty of flatsawn stuff that stays flat. But you'll maximize your chances of it staying flat if you use the proper wood to begin with. Wood stability has (obviously) many other variables. But maximize your chances for success by using quartersawn wood. Just because people drive successfully without seatbelts it doesn't mean wearing one is unnecessary.

  13. #28
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    Houses had very little water for washing things and not a lot of flat spots to store things. These probably didn't get very wet very often and probably would have been hung on a wall. If you leave one sitting on a counter or shelf it will likely fail.

    It may be that only one in 10 survives and those that do were well made and lucky in use, or were not used.

    Can it be that the hide glue released and readhered seasonally?

  14. #29
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    I was out at a friend's shop a couple of days ago. He had an ash toy chest lid he had made, about 24 x 36" L, with two inlayed battens about 1.5" wide and maybe 5/16" thick. I looked and the crossbands were buckled and broken in the center, and the lid was bowed away from the battens. "Mike, did you glue in those battons?" "Yeah, why did it do that?" We had a good conversation about wood movement. What a timely occurrence; perfect illustration of this topic.

    John

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hill View Post
    That might be it. I can't see the picture, but I'll look more closely at the ones I can see.
    I very rarely beat the "contribute" drum but, $6 for a year of seeing photos seems pretty reasonable. So often a picture is worth a dozen posts when it comes to explaining or demonstrating.
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