newbie woodworker needs help w/ first project

momwalkinSeptember 14, 2010

I am a mom who has always had a love and appreciation for trees and fine woodworking. I was inspired by the woodworker,Nakashima, to craft a 7ft slightly curved bench of red oak for a school auction project as my first attempt at working with wood. Beginning with a raw slab of oak,the finished product turned out beautiful! The 7th graders woodburned their names and a little "doodle" into the edge (where the bark would have been.) I could not bear to let them woodburn the beautifully, grained flat portion of the wood! The problem occurred when we put on the stainless steel hairpin legs. The wood is tourqued so that the two end legs catacornered to each other are off the ground about a 1/2 inch. My husbands idea is to apply weight to bend the wood. We only have another week before the project is due.We put two legs on each end of the bench and two more legs in the middle,backside of the bench. We thought of adding washers between the legs and wood but he thought 1/2 inch was too much to make up with washers. Any ideas from those with experience would be greatly appreciated.

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Washers, or some other sort of shim, are the way to go here. Weight will accomplish precisely nothing. Depending on whether the plank was properly dried before use, there's a chance it will continue warping; shims will allow you to adjust the leg lengths again once the bench has stabilized.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 8:38AM
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You need to run the bottom surface of the slab across a jointer to flatten it. Or, hand plane flats where the legs attach. Of chisel mortises into the wood where the "high" legs attach, so they sit level. Or get legs with leveling screws built in.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 7:23PM
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I don't know where you live, but in most cities they have businesses that provide sanding service. They have giant belt sanders that they can run your project through and make it flat and level on one side or both sides. You need to tell them you want maximum thickness. If you do this, be careful you don't over do it and have it sanded too much. You could also mortise in a slice of a red oak branch to use as a shim.
Are you sure your piece of wood is dry? I hope so.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 1:26AM
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions. The wood is dry so we do not anticipate further warping. We have elected to use a shim to fix the problem. What a help this forum has been. :)

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 4:57PM
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