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Wood on the Move

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Wood Movement
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Wood Movement

Take wood movement into account Experience taught woodworkers of old how to deal with wood's dimensional changes due to moisture. The answer was joinery that allowed for seasonal wood movement. And despite today's super-strong glues and moisture-fighting finishes, that's still the answer.

Frame-and-panel construction for cabinet and doors, wall panels, and sections of furniture, for instance, didn't come about by accident. Joiners, as woodworkers were called centuries ago, figured out that a rectangular panel could be maintained in poisition with a solidly secured frame of wood. However, the panel must not be glued or nailed in place in the frame. Instead, it has to "flot" in grooves, free to shrink and swell with changes in atmospheric moisture.

Today, some professional woodworkers talk about "nickel and dime reveals" on flush-fitting cabinet doors and drawers. These refer to the space you should leave between the wood that you expect will shrink or swell -- the doors or drawers -- and the carcase or frame of the piece. "If you build in winter, make the reveal the thickness of a nickel," they say. That leaves room for the wood to swell when the humidity goes up. On the other hand, "Build in summer, use a dime," means that you're allowing for the shrinkage that will come in winter.


 

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