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Oak Table Top Warped
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Chuck Siemen
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November 13, 2015 - 4:05 pm
Member Since: November 13, 2015
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Hello, I have an 48″ Oak Table that belonged to my in-laws. Served them fine as a kitchen table. After they passed away the table spent better part of 2 years in my brother-in-laws attic in South Carolina where it got hot and dry. The ring that the table slats sit on came apart in it’s original 2 pieces, and the braces/brackets where the pedestal attaches has about a 1/4 inch gap across the widest part of the table. With a strap clamp i got the ring reattached together and reinforced the smallish brackets that were there originally. So now I’m left with the warp on the top. Bottom of table is unfinished. I’m afraid that if i just moisten/dry/repeat the underside to lessen the warp so it could be fastened to the braces/bracket for the pedestal, that ‘memory’ would just take it back to where it was. Considering the harsh life it’s had lately, the finish is in amazingly good condition. 

Looking for any and all ideas!!!

 

Thanks,

Chuck

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Admin
November 13, 2015 - 7:38 pm
Member Since: January 18, 2013
Forum Posts: 49
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Hi Chuck,

 

I’m happy to help you out with your table top.  

Warp is one of the more difficult challenges to overcome when working with furniture. It’s far more difficult to correct than what most people want to think. That being said though, a warped table top is a very doable repair. It’s far easier than let’s say, a cabinet door.

This forum allows for you to post pictures, and that would help a lot!

Like you mentioned, spring-back is something to be aware of because it happens more times than not. The fact that the top is not finished on the underside (which is common) is without doubt where the moisture penetrated the wood and your top is now cupped upward, correct?

So yes, introducing moisture to the convex side (in this case the bottom) and clamping flat for a period of one-two weeks is usually the first and easiest method to flatten the top.  It’s a good idea to wet the convex side every couple days.  After one – two weeks of being clamped flat, remove clamps and with some luck your top will remain flat ( or somewhat close anyway).

If you do get to this point, and you can assemble the table with all warp removed – apply a coat of finish to the underside.  Just be sure not to do this until you are certain the warp has been eliminated.  

 

If you attach pictures, I can be more job specific and also give you clamping suggestions.

 

Cheers!!

Rod Keyser

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Chuck Siemen
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November 13, 2015 - 8:15 pm
Member Since: November 13, 2015
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image.jpegImage EnlargerHi Rod, I will attempt to attach a picture that shows the ‘side’ view. I can shoot other angles if that would help. This one shows pretty much all the bottom. I was thinking a set of clamps running under the pedestal brackets, so basically 4 clamps (2 on each side)??? I had to crop it quite a bit to fit under the size limit. 

Thanks,

Chuck

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Admin
November 14, 2015 - 7:26 am
Member Since: January 18, 2013
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That picture helped a lot.  I like to be sure I know exactly what I’m talking about though before we get into it, so more pictures from more angles would be great. 

I “think” the upload size for photos has been increased, let’s see 🙂

 

My initial opinion based on just that one picture is that the bowed top may have been caused by the braces under the table. They limited the ability of the table to expand and with screws on the outer edge but not towards the center of the table.  The top is solid wood, so it will move with expansion and contraction. If it can move upwards easier than outwards – boom ! 

Had the individual that installed them understood furniture construction and wood movement, they would have placed them in the opposite direction so that the grain direction on the slats matched the grain direction of the table top.  

If you can get me those other pictures, I will look at them and we can get you a solution that will last.

Cheers,

Rod

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Chuck Siemen
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November 14, 2015 - 10:26 am
Member Since: November 13, 2015
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The table has 11 boards making up the top. That brace is attached to the 3rd board in on each side. The other top boards each have one of those old-style staple/tacks that look galvanized. The whole table is assembled with screws with bits of glue in some spots along the ring. So….worst case…disassemble the whole thing, flatten the top like you mentioned in an earlier post and reassemble it, but would I mount the base bracket with the grain of the top (like you mentioned) or cross-grain (like it is now)? I’d think WITH the grain like you said is the best route to go, but then maybe add something to go cross grain to connect the other top pieces OR add more screws around the ring on the side to fasten the other top pieces? Or am I getting WAY too complex?

Thanks,

Chuck

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Admin
November 14, 2015 - 3:15 pm
Member Since: January 18, 2013
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Okay, Let me explain first why the top is the way it is:

 

The pieces that run cross-grain are essentially restricting the movement of the top. So as the top expands and contracts with the changes in humidity, the cross-grain strips are fighting it every step of the way. Essentially, the integrity of the table is compromised and the pressure is released at the weakest link in the chain. In this case there are no screws towards the center of the two cross grain cleats so the table pushed upward. 

The top must be allowed to move freely with no major restrictions along its width from either the trim or the base.  Had the strips been installed running along the long grain of the top they would not have created this problem at all.

 

Here is you picture with some explanation (click for larger image):

warped-table-top.jpegImage Enlarger

 

What to do about the warp:

 

I am guessing these braces were installed for height reasons. The apron (the ring) is screwed to the top and normally that is bad – BUT, if done correctly it works fine and I can say this based on the 100’s of tables I have worked on assembled in this fashion. The screws on the apron are inserted in elongated holes. This allows for some movement of the top.

It would be nice to turn the cleats and run them with the long grain, but it would not help with the warp.  Furniture makers will make this job very involved and complicated, but I don’t know if those methods are feasible for you so we will skip the difficult methods altogether.

 

Now that you understand the movement and complications of restricting this movement, here is my suggestion based on what I can see and not really knowing what your skill set and abilities are. This is not a perfect fix, but done with care it will work and unlike other methods it won’t create further damage in the future.

 

⇒ I would remove the screws in the cleats to allow the top to move. You can then fasten the top back to the cleats as they are (cross grain)  but you need to follow a procedure.  I will attach a diagram that explains.

elongeted-screw-hole.jpgImage Enlarger

Pre drill your holes per diagram and the holes must be elongated (larger than the screw).  An elongated hole will allow for some movement in the wood.  Don’t over due it – maybe 3 or 4 screws per cleat. The tricky part is the screw length and hole depth.  You don’t want the screw to protrude through the top !  Take the time to get it right and you will have a repair that will last.

One more thing….in no way do you want to use any glue. No glue. Screws with elongated holes only.

 

Once done, apply several coats of finish to the underside to minimize ant movement in the future.

 

I hope I explained this clearly and didn’t confuse you. Fixing warp is anything but easy so a simple explanation isn’t possible. Not for me anyway 🙂

 

Best of Luck!!

Rod Keyser


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Chuck Siemen
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November 28, 2015 - 5:19 pm
Member Since: November 13, 2015
Forum Posts: 4
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Hi Rod,

Thanks for that answer. Sorry for taking so long to get back to this. Sometimes life just happens and I’m sure you understand that.

I can do what you described. I consider myself an advanced-amateur and can do most anything if it’s explained, and your explanation is PERFECT!

My only question would be should I take the most warped boards of the top (Center and one on each side) off and clamp them with light underside misting and get them ‘flatter’ before fastening them back into place? Or will wood memory make that a waste of time?

I figured I’ll just duplicate the length/diameter/depth of the existing elongated holes for the couple of new ones I’ll have to add and that should work fine.

Thanks again,

Chuck

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Admin
November 28, 2015 - 8:21 pm
Member Since: January 18, 2013
Forum Posts: 49
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I sure do understand that Chuck…..boy do I understand  Smile  

 

My experience has been that wetting wood on one side of a table top to flatten very rarely works.  I am not saying it “can’t” work, because it most certainly can and will if the right conditions exist. It’s just a better choice when  finish has never been applied to either side.  

Normally on a table top, I would opt for the repair I mentioned or I cut kerfs on the underside and go that route. That is a very invasive job though.

If you need help getting the table flat in order to repair, I use a bottle jack with a 2×4  and a 24×24 plywood square on one end.  Place a board on top of the table – then place the bottle jack on top of that with the 2×4 between the jack and ceiling. The 24×24 piece of ply attached to the one end of the 2×4 goes against the ceiling so that you don’t poke a hole through the ceiling. Only light pressure is usually needed to flatten the top.  

Best of luck, this should take care of it for you.

 

Happy Holidays.

Rod

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