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I'm making a new console table for my entryway, and as I've done with past furniture projects, I am using cheap framing lumber. My plan was for the top of this table to be a 3' piece of 2x12, and instead of my usual staining, I decided to try Shou Sugi Ban, the Japanese technique for burning wood to provide color and protection.

My 2x12 was slightly warped when I started, but it was not really noticeable. After the burning (with a blowtorch), the board is significantly more warped to the point I can't use it as a furniture top. Is there any way to recover from this?

Things I tried:
  • Put heavy objects on top to press it down. No effect.
  • Clamp it to the base that the top is designed to go on. This actually just bent the base rather than bending back the top.
  • Clamp it to a piece of flatter 2x12, and put a lot of pressure on each side to flatten it out. It almost looked like it would work, and then the board started to split down the center so I released the pressure.

Worst case I have to cut a new piece and stain it instead of burning it, but I would really love to find a way to make this work with the burned wood. Suggestions for how to prevent warping when I burn my next piece of wood are also welcome!
 

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If it warped it must not have been dry. The heat may have dried one side more than the other. Waiting for the moisture to even out might let it go back to where it was before or it might get worse.

There is not really any way to flatten it once it is warped.
 

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If it was say 3/4" stock, you might have a chance, but 2x, "fug-ged-da-boud-it," cut a new piece. Why can't you burn a new piece?
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The risk of straightening it is, its memory and after you do a lot of work building that table it could go south. I'm not a pro on wood, just a framer, but I like to select wood with lots of small knots. The wood seem to be more stable.

I realize green wood is less expensive than some well dried stock, but if you can find a saw mill they will have lots of piles of wood drying and if you talk nicely they may well have some scraps the size you want. Here in Maine we have dozens of saw mills and very easy to find pieces like that. Of course you will need to plane them to get your finished surface but it will be stable.

Bud
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Thanks everyone for the suggestions!
@ZZZZZ, if I had access to a planer that would be a great option. I bet if I planed it after the warping, it's unlike to warp more with a second burning. But yes, it seems the heat caused increased warping.
@SeniorSitizen, finding a piece like your picture shows will probably be tough, especially given I'm using the cheap stuff. I think I understand your suggestion on ripping - not sure how the glue will react to the burning process.
@Bud9051, this wood is "kiln dried" but I guess that's not good enough. Not many mills here as I live in a large city.

For this project, I think my solution will be to cut a new piece of 2x12 and stain it as I've done for other projects. I'm really bummed that the burning didn't work out - the affect is beautiful.
 

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major rule in woodworking - with regards to wood stability. whatever you do to one face, you need to do to the other face equally. same with varnish, paint, etc. since the board has warped already, it may not come back by doing the other face now.

I have successfully flattened boards by placing them outside on the ground, concave face down. the best day is after a rain (wet ground), and sunny. the sun dries out the top (moister face) of the board, while the bottom face absorbs moisture from the ground. check on it every half hour or so.

I have actually had boards warp the other way if left out too long. and, I have had board hardly influenced by this process.
 

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major rule in woodworking - with regards to wood stability. whatever you do to one face, you need to do to the other face equally. same with varnish, paint, etc. since the board has warped already, it may not come back by doing the other face now.

I have successfully flattened boards by placing them outside on the ground, concave face down. the best day is after a rain (wet ground), and sunny. the sun dries out the top (moister face) of the board, while the bottom face absorbs moisture from the ground. check on it every half hour or so.

I have actually had boards warp the other way if left out too long. and, I have had board hardly influenced by this process.
And when it eventually goes back to 6-8 percent you are back to square 1. I've learned not to waste my time attempting to flatten lumber that has a mind of its own.
 

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And when it eventually goes back to 6-8 percent you are back to square 1. I doubt that framing lumber ever was at 6-8%. I've learned not to waste my time attempting to flatten lumber that has a mind of its own. agreed, however there are times when you have a lot invested into a board that warrants trying to flatten it [/QUOTE]


fwiw...
 

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If you've worked with long boards on a table saw you've noticed that ripping a straight board can sometimes produce two curved ones.

Even with dry straight boards the saw kerf may open up or pinch closed. The wood fibers are in equilibrium within that board after milling and if you sever enough of them you're going to get movement. If you have a really straight grained board the severing will be minimal and there won't be much movement.

I'm inclined to think that the heat treatment shortened the wood fibers on the top and that's what pulled it out of flatness. I'd try to treat the other side to see if you can get it straighter. Maybe seal it if you are able to achieve flatness.
 
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