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Old 11-27-2010, 08:58 AM   #1
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Dimensional lumber / warpage question

Hi --

Well, I'm now on "GreyDawg's build, v2" (turns out that it you're small enough to sleep comfortably crosswise in the back of the van, you're too small to reach the contents of a Thule roofbox, even with a 3-step stepladder. So storage needed to be reconfigured and you know what happens when you pull on a thread... ) The new configuration will be very similar to LenS' van, with most of the gear storage on a hitch-hauler platform.

Anyway, the frame of the cabinets and bunk are built of pine 2x2's and 1x2's, and lots of screws and glue. Top of the bunk is 1/2" plywood; the cabinet doors are 1/4" ply with 1/4" thick molding around the perimeter (dresses it up, and makes it thick enough to hold hinge and latch screws well).

Here's the question: if I leave the wood raw, will it warp? Do I need to paint all of it (essentially encase it in latex) to prevent warping? The van will be in all sorts of climates, from the Gulf Coast to the Colorado Plateau, and north on to Alaska by summer 2012. So that pretty much runs the gamut from dry to humid, hot to freezing.

I like the look of wood -- could I use something like Minwax Polyshades (stain+polyurethane) or would the different woods (soft pine, BC ply, pine molding) all take the stain differently and thus look awful?

Thanks!
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Old 11-27-2010, 09:07 AM   #2
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Re: Dimensional lumber / warpage question

What you REALLY don't want to do is build your cabinets with green wood!!!!!!!!
Bill
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Old 11-27-2010, 09:27 AM   #3
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Re: Dimensional lumber / warpage question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skywagon
What you REALLY don't want to do is build your cabinets with green wood!!!!!!!!
Bill
Well, I'm using the 1x2 and 2x2s from Home Depot... sadly, HD didn't have a "kiln-dried" option but the wood seems pretty dry -- and some of the pieces in their stacks were "pre-warped!"
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Old 11-27-2010, 11:13 AM   #4
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Re: Dimensional lumber / warpage question

Dimensional softwood lumber is Spruce/Pine/Fir (SPF). 90% of SPF grows in a spiral and will therefore warp to some degree unless it is prevented from doing so. The other 10% of logs are used for log homes except for on the bottom layers where the twisting logs can be prevented from lifting the entire house (!) by the weight of the structure as they continue to dry.

All lumber is kiln dried but that does not mean it is void of moisture and it will continue to dry after a retail sale. Plywood is generally also SPF and will also warp. The smaller the piece of plywood the less chance you will be able to have a flat piece like for a cabinet door or something similar.

Birch plywood is flat, beautiful, available and a little more money. You get what you pay for.
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Old 11-27-2010, 11:34 AM   #5
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Re: Dimensional lumber / warpage question

Hi --

Wow, thanks for the information. I've got birch plywood for the countertop; I'll switch to birch plywood for the cabinet doors, too. BC ply with lots of screws should be fine for the bunk top, I'd think.

Regarding further warping of the SPF 1x2 and 2x2 pieces I've used for the structure/frame of the bunk and cabinets, should I do anything to prevent it from warping over the next few years, like painting it? Or would that be wasted effort?

Thanks!
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Old 11-27-2010, 12:01 PM   #6
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Re: Dimensional lumber / warpage question

I use Home Depot wood a lot. Just pick through the stack to find the straightest pieces with ALSO the straightest GRAIN. I have used that Minwax polyshade and really have not liked it. It is thin and tends to run on vertical surfaces. If you can vanish while flat, no problem. Color in the vanish (like polyshade) will help with each applied coat making the color of the various woods more uniform....color lays in the finish not the wood. For warpage...YES apply a finish. At least one coat on all sides to seal the wood. It will really slow down the wood breathing moisture in and out. You may want multiple coats on the exterior surfaces for durability and appearance. As the surface gets sealed each coat goes on faster and easier. Use some 320 wet/dry sandpaper between coats with soapy water to lightly smooth out the finish. Dry with a clean paper towel and recoat. You will within 2-3 coats have a professional looking finish that is very smooth.
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Old 11-27-2010, 12:16 PM   #7
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Re: Dimensional lumber / warpage question

I think you should not worry about the frame as it is glued and screwed. If a piece warps bad enough to make the bed uncomfortable to sleep on then replace it when it happens.
For cabinet doors MDF will give you a flat material that is easy to work with. But it is heavy and not as durable.
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Old 11-27-2010, 02:21 PM   #8
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Re: Dimensional lumber / warpage question

I have never really had a warpage issue
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Old 11-27-2010, 02:29 PM   #9
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Re: Dimensional lumber / warpage question

Thanks, everyone, for the advice.

Here's my plan: I'll put latex enamel on all the interior structures, all surfaces, as LenS suggests. For the exterior surfaces, I'll experiment on scraps with Polyshades since I have some on hand (yep, everything can be flat -- it really is watery stuff) to see if the different types of wood (2x2, plywood, trim) will stain up to be about the same color. (Len's comment about the color in the finish rather than the wood was quite interesting. I sure learn a lot on this forum.). If the results look OK, I'll proceed that way; otherwise, I'll do 2-3 coats of semigloss enamel, sanding as suggested.

Looks like a week of wood finishing ahead!
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