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preventing movement in beech

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Grahamshed

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Hi guys, another newbie question if I can.

I want to make a sort of drawer unit to sit along the back of a kitchen worktop.
This will be a piece of beech 2.5 meters long by about 250mm wide and somewhere around 22mm thick which will be supported at each end and at 500mm intervals by 150mm high full width 'dividers' biscuited in place for drawers to fit between. ( does that make sense ? )

My concern is that the top piece will warp/cup either while it is acclimatizing to the room or after it is finished. So my question(s) is/are, do I let it acclimatize before I do anything to it or do I get the 'dividers' biscuited on quickly in the hope that they will stop it moving. I guess a second question would be, will they stop it moving or have no affect ?
 

Cheshirechappie

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In general, if a piece of solid timber wants to warp, twist, shrink or swell, it will do; and there's no stopping it. The best you can do is acclimatise it as best you can for as long as you can, and use a form of construction that will allow the wood to do what it wants. Beech has a bit of a reputation for moving, but in my (admittedly limited) experience, it seems quite stable once it's had a chance to 'settle down'. They wouldn't have made planes out of it for several centuries if it was totally wild and unpredictable!

Kitchens can be tricky environments for wood, given that they can be hot and steamy during some cooking operations, and cold and draughty when the back door's open, so the more acclimatising, the better.
 

beech1948

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A few things that you can do.

1) Buy a quarter sawn piece of beech. That is end grain should be about vertical to the width of the board. QS should be pretty stable. It can be hard to come by so you probably would need to go through a pallet of beech and find the board(s) you need.
2) Acclimatise this in the house for about a month. If you get any movement at all try another month
3) Supports every 500mm are probably not enough. You will see some sagging and if it can sag it will cup,twist etc etc. Have a look at the Sagulator for info. Consider supports every 300 or 400 mm, maybe the distance of two of the drawers whatever that is.
4) I think you said the top will be 1 inch thick...if so the thickness should hold back any twist/cup etc....
5) If you are concerned about the potential movement then consider MRMDF and paint it.

Using beech should not be a problem if you take care to eliminate all of the causes of movement. One to look out for is that sometimes kitchens can be steamy....if the beech is to be exposed to any such atmosphere then maybe time to think again.

Al
 

Grahamshed

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Thanks guys. I will look for quarter sawn but there is only one woodyard around here and I dont think their choice is huge .
leaving it to acclimatize for a month...... wifes going to love that :)
 

Mr T

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Hi

I would agree with Beech about the quarter sawn and the acclimatising, especially as beech is particularly prone to movement. I would suggest thicknessing it a bit over size before acclimatising so you can plane and re-thickness it afterwards.

The other option may be beech veneered mdf.

Chris
 
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