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The warping of wooden floors is something that many people are familiar with. If you’ve ever looked down at your floor and noticed that one side seems to lean slightly towards the wall, you’re probably already aware of the problem.
But why does this happen? And how do you fix it? Let’s take a closer look at both questions, shall we?
Why Does It happen?
Warped wood (see also ‘How To Fix A Hole In A Wooden Door‘) happens because the boards shrink over time, causing them to bend outwards. As the wood shrinks, it loses moisture, making it harder for the wood fibers to hold themselves together.
Over time, this process continues, leading to the gradual loss of strength within the board itself. In extreme cases, the wood can actually split apart, causing the entire surface to warp.
Let Wood Dry
If you notice that one side of your piece of wood is noticeably lower than the other, chances are that it is warped. This happens because the wood expands in different directions depending upon how much water there is inside of it.
If you want to try and fix this problem yourself, use some of the following tips.
1. Make sure that your wood is completely dry. You can do this by putting it outside in the sun for several days.
2. Once your wood is dry, place it on a flat surface and drag it across the ground towards the sun. Do this every day for about three weeks.
3. After three weeks, check the wood again to see if it is flattened. If it is, great! If it isn’t, keep dragging it across the ground until it does become flat.
4. Don’t move it around too much and don’t apply pressure to it. Let it continue to dry.
5. Repeat Steps 2 through 4 until your wood becomes perfectly flat.
Moisture And Steam
Another method to try is soaking the wood in water for several hours, placing it in a steam bath, or even applying heat directly to the wood itself. However, some people prefer to use a method called “unwarping”.
This involves adding moisture to the wood cells and allowing the wood to return to its original shape.
The process works because the wood expands when it absorbs water. When you apply heat, the expansion is greater than that of the surrounding air, causing the wood to bend back towards its original shape.
After the wood cools down, the cells contract again and the wood returns to its natural position.
Using An Iron
Another way to un-warp wood is to use an iron. This method works best on flat surfaces such as a table or countertop because it requires less pressure to flatten the wood.
You can do this by placing a damp cloth or towel over the object and heating up the iron. When you feel the iron reaching its peak temperature, place it directly on the wood and press down firmly. Wait for about 30 seconds, and you are done.
Use A Jack Plane
If your wood is suffering from minor cupping e.g the edges are slightly raised and the center has sunken forming a concave shape then it’s possible use a jack plane to flatten the wood. This method works best where the wood is still relatively soft and pliable.
The one drawback of this technique is that it doesn’t work well on hardwood timbers. However, it does work well on softer woods such as pine, fir etc.
Step 1 – Check wood for warping: Using a winding stick or similar dead level object with the timber laid on a flat level surface, check for points in the center of the timber that are not touching the timber all along the width. Mark this area with a pencil.
Step 2 – Cut off the warp: With your jig saw cut the marked areas off the wood. Make sure to keep the marks you’ve made.
Step 3 – Planing: Using a jack plane, start at the bottom of the board and begin to shave the wood up towards the center. You’ll notice that the wood starts to bend back towards the center as you go further up the board. Stop shaving once the wood begins to curve back toward the center.
Repeat this process on both sides of the board until the entire board is flat and level.
Weigh It Down
If the bow is caused by moisture, you can try soaking the wood in water overnight to see if it straightens out. However, if the problem persists, there is another option to consider.
You can use a nylon paper to weigh down the bowed part of the board. All you need to do is cut a piece of nylon paper about 4 inches wide by 12 inches long. Wrap the paper tightly around the end of the wood, securing it with tape.
Then place some weights on top of the paper to make sure it stays in place. Leave the board alone for 24 hours and check it again. The weight should hold the board in place while it dries. Once the wood is dry, sand off any remaining knots and return the wood to its position.
As we’ve seen, wood furniture can become warped over time due to exposure to humidity, heat, and other factors. This can be especially problematic if you are storing your pieces indoors during the winter months.
If you want to prevent future warping, there are several things you can do. First, make sure your wood is well cared for and cleaned regularly. Next, avoid storing your furniture outdoors during the winter months.
You can store your wood flat rather than standing it upright. Flatting out the wood allows air circulation around the surface and prevents water from getting trapped underneath. The best way to do this is to lay the wood out horizontally and keep it away from the sun.
Another option is to coat the surfaces of the wood with paint or varnish. These types of finishes act as insulation, keeping the wood from absorbing moisture. Some people even recommend applying multiple coats of paint to ensure that no moisture gets inside.
Warped wood is an issue that many homeowners face. There are a few ways to fix it as we’ve seen. But remember that prevention is better than cure !