Q. I have been having a slight problem with my
oak when I finish it. It is like the oak has a little bit of fuzz on it
and so the fibers are popping up through the finish and I have to sand
between coats very carefully to get the surface smooth again. Can you
A. Sometimes when the tree is growing, it produces a
special type of fiber that is quite weak. As these fibers seem more
common when the tree is under stress (wind, crooked stem, large
branches, etc.), the fiber is called a reaction wood or tension-wood
fiber. This fiber can have high amounts of cellulose, which absorbs
stain, glue and finishes very easily. This fiber also can be low density
and will have low strength. When the fibers, which are scattered
throughout the lumber, are machined by dull knives or dull sandpaper,
the fibers will tend to be pushed over rather than cut off cleanly. When
you put a finish on such wood, the fibers will pop up through the
finish, especially water-based finishes.
Unfortunately, it is
nearly impossible to detect tension wood ahead of time. So, your first
practical option is to use sharp tools (HSS is better than carbide in
this case) and fresh sandpaper. If the problem still persists, then you
can use a sanding sealer or glue sizing just before final sanding to
stiffen the fibers so that they will sand off cleanly.
Q: We are having a problem with shrinkage. We make furniture, but someone else sells and delivers it. This person claims he did everything correctly, including opening the furniture wrapping (we wrapped the furniture with shrink-wrap and it was fairly well sealed) and letting it acclimate to the house climate. When the customer moved in, they said the furniture looked really wonderful, but within a week, it started to warp, open joints and crack in a few places. We are so careful to keep our plant at 40 percent RH and check the MC of the lumber. This is frustrating! Can you help?
Tips to avoid stress development and cracking
Q: Does moisture settle to the bottom of a piece of
lumber when the lumber is drying? If so, would it pay to flip the
lumber upside-down after a few weeks?
Q: We wanted the strongest joint possible so we used epoxy, but the joints are failing. Any comments?
Q: I am in a tropical island and am sending you several
large sized table legs. You will notice that there are some
substantial splits, which seem to, more often and not, be at the
ends. We see these after we unload the furniture from the
container and put it in our warehouse here near the coast.
Sometimes, the splits are delayed until the pieces reach our
sales area. What is going on? Everyone is pointing
Q: We have some cypress 4/4 lumber that the customer returned as being unsatisfactory after he has already put it into use. The surface is corrugated and very bumpy, but I know that it left here smooth as a pancake. Can you tell me what has happened? Also, in a few places, the grain where the grain is very flat has separated and you can lift up long slivers with your fingernail.
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Make quality products that won't shrink, swell or
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