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Panel of experts

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Gluing up panels can be hit or miss – will the finished panel curl up like a potato chip or not?

Panels that are bound by frames usually don’t have an issue with warping; same thing for tabletop panels that are skirt-mounted. But panels that stand alone without reinforcement, such as trunk lids or solid doors, can start to curve immediately upon being released from the clamps.

Beginning with careful stock selection and even more careful workpiece alignment and arrangement in the panel, warping can be minimized. If the application can incorporate a cleat, such as with a trunk lid, that can help keep the panel straight as well. But it’s the rare panel that comes out of the clamps perfectly flat, and stays that way.

I’ve been lucky enough to have it happen a couple times. The first was for a trunk/window seat that I made about eight years ago. The lid was glued up of three pieces of 1x8 oak, and although I was prepared to add cleats to the underside of the panel it turned out I didn’t have to. The panel showed no tendency to start curving, so I left the cleats off thinking I could always add them later if needed. I never needed to. Eight years later, that trunk lid is still perfectly flat and true.

It happened again last week. I made another trunk, this one with a lid glued up from two pieces of stock. The design of the lid incorporates a lip-like frame around the front and both side edges, but it was clear that the panel was going to stay flat. I added the lip anyway to stay true to the design, but I’m confident that warping wouldn’t have been an issue.

So what’s my point here?

Simple. I’m gloating.

Till next time,


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