This is 6 Easy Ways to Straighten Warped Wood. Sometimes you find a piece of wood and it’s a little bit warped, and you need a way to fix that. With these six techniques, you’ll always have a way to straighten out your wood. Enjoy.
How to Straighten Warped Wood
Most woodworkers are smart enough to leave any pieces of wood that are warped or bent badly in the store, and not actually buy them. What ends up happening is a piece tends to change shape when it gets home in the shop or has been stored for a long time.
In a case like this, you may have some boards in the shop that were brought home in great shape, but over the years have moved a little bit. These are still good pieces of wood, all you need to do is apply one of the techniques I’m about to cover to salvage the good parts.
In a lot of cases, warped wood can be dangerous to work with. It can pinch sawblades, kick back, and perform in unexpected ways. Make sure to use all necessary safety gear, and be extra cautious when working with warped wood.
If you are extra nervous about any of these processes, don’t do them. It’s not worth risking injury to save a few dollars on a piece of wood. Keep the pieces, and you can always attempt this process once you have more confidence in your abilities.
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Cut the Really Bad Parts Off
The first way to fix warped wood is to just cut the really bad parts off. In most cases, a piece of wood that has warped really only has one section, or a portion of the piece that needs to go. In a case like this, just cut off the bad parts and you’re all set.
This works out on most occasions for very long boards that may have twisted our hockey sticked at the very end. All you have to do is cut off this bad part, and then check the rest of the board to see if it’s in good shape.
Most of the time it will be, though it may require a little bit of planing or jointing in order to make it perfect again. That’s OK though, because it’s better to save 50% of a board then to lose the entire thing.
Plane Warped Wood Flat
If you have a piece of wood with a small warp, you may consider running it through the thickness planer in order to take it down. Before you do this process it’s helpful to take a look at some jigs online that help make it easy.
A board that has warped will tend to flex as it goes through thickness planer, thinning the board but preserving the warp. This obviously is not the goal, but there are ways that you can make forms and jigs to hold the piece.
If you only have a small defect, you can plane away the problems and end up with a slightly thinner board, one that’s flat and usable. Again, it’s much better to have a little bit of a good board instead of being stuck with all of bad one.
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Joint the Edges of the Wood
The jointer is also really useful tool to help fix pieces of wood that are warped. Sometimes a board pulls to the left or to the right, causing the edge not to be straight. This is a perfect job for a jointer, and it can help flatten the edges.
In the case of a small bend, you can run the piece across the jointer several times until you can hear the blade making contact with the edge of the wood from start to finish. That’s how you know that you’re making contact the entire time, and you have a straight edge.
Be careful when you are using your joiner, again these jointing and planing methods are really only useful when the defect is very slight. If you have a gigantic bend or warp, the machines won’t be able to help as well.
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Cut Warped Pieces into Shorter Pieces
Sometimes a board that has a bend or warp in it along a very long length can be made to function by being cut into shorter pieces. This is really helpful for 2 x 4‘s that are just a little bit bent or warped.
For example, a board that bends 1 inch over 8 feet in length can be almost eliminated completely by cutting the board into 2 foot lengths. If you are using the board for a project that requires shorter pieces like this, it’s perfect.
There are many times in my shop that I’ve cut down a 2 x 4 that had a little bit of a warp, and on the smaller pieces its almost impossible to notice. Even when you put the pieces together to form joints, they are still very good.
See Also: 7 Easy Woodworking Joints for Beginners
Salvage What You Can
When dealing with a piece of wood that is bent, warped, or otherwise defective, it’s a good idea to think about getting anything you can from the piece. Right now, the board isn’t usable at all, so you are going to improve on that.
Think about the process as a victory if you are even able to get a few inches of material from an entire board that end up being usable. Defective boards are dangerous to work with, and they don’t make very good woodworking projects.
Instead of worrying about how much wood you are losing, only spend your energy on how much wood you are keeping. Again, up until you decided to fix these boards, they were totally useless. Now at least you might get something from them.
Throw Away the Really Poor Pieces
There is no piece of wood in this world that is worth risking your safety. When in doubt, just throw the pieces away. Especially the pieces that are really bad, there is no reason to even try to salvage anything from them.
There is just a time when you have to cut your losses and move on. Next time, either don’t buy wood that is so wet, or get your wood from a better source so that way it doesn’t change shape and move around as much in the shop.
In general, pieces of wood should change very little from the store environment to your shop, as long as your shop is indoors and climate controlled. You should be picking out pieces that are already well seasoned and acclimated to your environment.
Occasionally you will get a random dud, but in general most of your wood should change shape very little in your shop. Being the case, you can use a lot of these techniques in order to fix some of the small defects that may happen over time.
It’s Not Worth Ruining a Project by Using Poor Pieces
The final piece of advice is that it’s definitely not worth ruining a project by using pieces of wood that are not up to standard. Depending on what you make, the standard can fluctuate wildly, so make sure to keep that in mind when you make your decision.
For example, if you’re making a fine jewelry box, then it’s very important to work with pieces that are extremely flat and defect free. On the other hand, if you are building a 2 x 4 Adirondack chair then you have a little bit more to play with.
Consider your project, and how fancy it needs to be. If you are making a rougher project, then a little bit of bends and twists are not going to make much of a difference. For rustic projects, the same holds true.
See Also: Rustic Wood Staining Technique
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know several different ways to salvage usable pieces of wood from boards that have slight warps, it’s time to go save some of your lumber. Find a couple of pieces that you want to fix, and set about fixing them.
Start small, and maybe just trim off some pieces that don’t really look like they’re worth the effort to save. Take a look at what remains, and see if they are pretty straight. If they are, add them back to the woodpile.
Use these techniques to address your lumber, and don’t feel bad about throwing away the pieces that you really can’t save. Take a look at your buying habits, and make sure that you are buying the right lumber for the right reasons.
If you buy a little less, and store it for a little shorter time period, you can actually end up with more lumber to use and not as much will get lost to time. This is a good way to keep your shop clean as well, and not as cluttered.
If you have any questions on six easy ways to straighten warped wood, please post a question and I’ll be glad to answer them. Happy building.
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