Warped Wood On Furniture, And How To Fix It

In part two of this article we will discuss cures for wood furniture that has warped and twisted.

Straitening is not as simple as it may sometimes seem, and every action taken will have consequence. Understanding warp is the key to reversing it permanently.


In this video, Debi Salling put together what we thought was a good video detailing how he repaired a twisted drawer in a nicely created step by step tutorial.  Thanks for the excellent video Debi!  You can support Debi Salling by visiting their YouTube channel .

 Part 2 -

Now that we have an idea why and how wood warps, what can we do about it?


Step one is to look at the role of an object and decide whether any action is necessary. If so, step two is to investigate the possible ways of gaining access to the warped component while at the same time considering the consequences of any other components involved. Then, having decided on the kind of treatment, we must think of a way to stabilize the object in its new shape and how to re-assemble whatever had to be taken apart.

Non-intrusive treatment would be changing the environmental circumstances, with little risk of damaging the object further except perhaps for transport. When a piece of furniture with a lot of shrunken components is placed in a damp environment, it might just return to its original shape. In the case of a warped door which does not close properly anymore, shifting the hinges is a possibility.

Another non invasive fix on a door, and one that I have seen work often, is adding a single or multiple HIGH STRENGTH catches to the warped end of the door like these - Extra Strong, High Magnetic Catch (2 Pk) - White/Nickel  I find it important to use these extra strong catches because they have so much more holding strength than the standard catches. I have not found them at the local big box hardware stores, so I included a link to where I buy mine from.



Depending on the reason why the wood has twisted, another option to consider is that we can extract more moisture on the convex side or add moisture on the concave side. Humidity and heat partially soften the cells in the wood, allowing the wood fibers to slide along each other. After cooling and drying, they return to their initial state and the wood maintains its new shape. Forcing the wood into a slight counter twist in the cooling process is an aid but not a guarantee to prevent twisting back.

This is a non invasive fix that will work at times, but be advised that by no means is it 100% and really only seems to work on wood that has never been finished (raw). The problem is that the wood must be unfinished to allow the moisture to penetrate into the fibers. Even wood that has been stripped of its finish will have blocked pores limiting the effect of the moisture penetration. Extracting moisture out of a convex surface could be undertaken with a household iron. It takes precise judgment to warm up the wood evenly with this method.

Other options may involve an electric blanket. Wrapped in such a blanket we can leave the wood clamped in a certain position. When the panel to be treated is a thick one, sometimes the use of steam is required, for which purpose we can use a steamer.

Warped Tabletop

warped top 3A very common problem is the warped tabletop, which has been finished on one side. Moisture does penetrate shellac and many of the other classic finishes, but at a highly reduced speed. So the underside will have moved more than the top. If concave cupping is extreme and the integrity of the structure is compromised, a treatment of repeated wetting and drying the convex surface may be applied.

Generally speaking all these solutions are only temporarily, as the wood will want to return to its disfigured state sooner or later (usually always sooner). This phenomenon is called spring-back. The chances of experiencing a spring-back reaction are reduced when we countertwist the wood and leave it countertwisted for a long period of time, say a week or two. Because not only the cells on the concave side are compressed, but those on the other side as well, the tension in the wood is spread more evenly and chances of a return of the problem are minimized.

Intrusive methods are the next option, but require more skill and a firm understanding of wood and the consequences of our actions in relationship to wood movement, and restricting such movement.  I normally suggest steering clear of intrusive methods unless you are sure you possess a firm understanding of cause and consequence.  The reason is that most times an intrusive repair is attempted without understanding the cause and consequence, the repair will eventually fail and in many cases will create more damage than you started with.