How To Fix Warped Wood: A Personal Guide With 4 Methods
It’s not uncommon to see wood that is "deformed" especially if your occupation revolves around lumber. However, I come bearing good news. You can fix tis! Wood is defined as being warped when it deviates from its natural flat surface due to stress applied on it or shrinks unevenly.
Additionally, wood can warp as a result of moisture being absorbed and released. The uneven absorption of moisture is the primary agent of warping in wood. The warping phenomenon is attributed to other distinct factors. They include:
- Wood species
- Grain orientation
- Sunlight and temperature
- Air flow
- Uneven finishing on the wood.
Wood Warping Can Take Form In Five Different Ways
- The wood can be bowed: In this state, the wood warps along the wood’s length.
- Similarly, the wood can be crooked: A crooked wood is one that has warped along the wood’s length on its edges.
- The wood can also be kink: In this state, the wood has developed a crook on a particular area of the wood. It’s commonly caused by a knot. A knot, in this case, is the part that’s enclosed by layers of trunk wood after lower branches of a tree have died off.
- Moreover, the wood can be cupped: This form of warping occurs on the width of the wood. Its edges tend to be higher than at the center.
- Finally, the wood can be twisted: This distortion happens when the ends of the wood are not on a similar horizontal plane.
Use the following methods to straighten your piece of warped wood.
How To Fix Warped Wood
Method 1: Using Winding Sticks
• Place the wood on a flat surface and determine the type of warp. You can do this using winding stick. The pair of winding sticks is critical in identifying twists or bow. Along the woods length, look for level sticks. If they form an ‘X’ shape, this depicts some twisting on its surface. To rectify this, plane the wood diagonally along its high line.
• To determine if your wood is bowed, you use a single winding stick. Drag the stick along the face of the wood. If there’s a space between the stick and the wood, there’s a bowed warp. Alternatively, you can check for daylight in the middle of the two edges as you slide the stick. If the wood is low in the central part- therefore cupped- across its width, take cuts that will inherently remove the high sections on each edge. Ensure you do this across the wood’s length.
• If the piece of wood tends to be higher in the middle section, bowed warp, take cuts solely on this part to create a piece that’s low in the middle part. Then repeat the above step to ensure that flattening has been seen to completion.
Method 2: Using Iron
• Wrap the warped wood in one or two relatively large moist towels. Ensure the warped region is fully covered. Additionally, make sure that the towels can withstand the high temperatures of iron. Drench the towels thoroughly as you wring out excessive water. It’s important to note that the towel should be damp and not wet.
• Place the wrapped warped wood on a flat surface that will similarly suffice the high temperature of the iron. The concave surface should be facing down.
• Set the iron box to the highest setting. Give it about 2- 5 minutes to heat. A steam iron is recommended for this treatment of warped wood.
• It’s obvious that the next step is pressing the iron on the warped surface. Slide the iron box on the entire surface of the wood applying even pressure. Hold the iron box in each position for at least 5- 10 seconds. Do not leave the iron box unattended at any point to prevent any damages on the wood but more importantly to prevent any fatal injuries on you as it may burn the towel.
• Check if the warping has stopped. If so, stop this process and the wood dry before using it. However, if warping has not stopped after a series of tries, try another approach.
Method 3: Using Sunlight
• This approach is similar to the preceding one. It entails wrapping of the warped wood using moist towels. The material of the cloth should be such that it retains moisture. Soak the towels in water and drench excess water.
• Place the wood on a flat surface such as a deck. You can place it on your lawn, however; it may not be as effective. It’s recommended that you place on a soft surface.
• Place the wood in direct sunlight with the concave part, section bent inwards, facing down as the convex part, section bent outwards, facing up.
• Spray additional water on the wrapped wood as required. Depending on the degree of the warping, keep the wood in the sun for about 2- 4 days. In this period, you should constantly be spraying water on the towels to keep the damp. Sunlight is meant to encourage the absorption of moisture from the towel to the wood. At night place the wood in a warm room.
• This process may take some days depending on the extent of the damage on the wood. Therefore, regularly check if the wood has unwarped. If warping has stopped, remove the towels and let the wood dry.
• If there’s no progress after a couple of days, use a different approach. This method works best during dry weather.
Method 4: Using Pressure
• Cover the warped wood using moist towels over the inwardly curved section of the wood. For this technique, paper towels are recommended. It should be large enough to cover the warped area. As stated before in the precursor methods, soak the towels in water and drench excess water. The moist towels should be focused on the concave section to bring it back to its normal state.
• Wrap plastic over the paper towels ensuring its tight and secure. This inherently reduces evaporation and maintains a moist environment for the wood.
• Clamp the wood ensuring that you over- tighten it till straightening begins on the warped region. Be careful as you do this, since over- tightening may split the wood.
• Leave the wood for about a week as you regularly observe for any possible damage. The room where stored should have high temperatures of about 65 degrees.
• After the first week, remove the plastic wrap, paper towels and the ease the wood from the tightened clamp. If warping has been rectified, you can use the wood after drying. If not, you need to apply more pressure but store it at a relatively cooler temperature, about 25 degrees. Check the progress regularly and unclamp the wood if warping has been corrected. Conversely, if not corrected in this process, the damage to the wood can’t be reversed.
Warping has cost the wood industry in losses. However, with the adoption of these techniques to reverse warping, costs can be saved. Therefore, you can choose whichever approach that may seem time effective and consistent with your requirements. I genuinely hope that this article has proved to suffice your questions. Good luck as you treat your warped lumber!