Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Straightening Warped Ikea Solid Wood Table Top Part 1

Ikea, mostly known for its modern Scandinavian design particle board furniture, also sells some solid wood products such as counter tops and table tops.  They aren't expensive hardwoods but cheaper woods such as pine and beech, but if you don't have the equipment or time to mill your own stock (thickness planer, jointer, etc.) and laminate them together then Ikea might be an alternative.

That was my thinking since I wanted to have wood table in the office that can take some abuse, but I don't have the equipment to do it from rough stock.  Telling She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed that I'm going to spend $800 on equipment to build a $100 table won't end pretty so for $79, I picked up the beech wood table top and a few legs.

The table top looks nice, but to my dismay when I opened up the box it was obviously slightly warped.  My wife didn't seem to notice but I took out my 4' level and sure enough there was a slight curve around 1/8th of an inch.  My first thought was to go exchange it but transporting the sucker is a pain.  After some googling, I settled on an "old timer's" method.

Take the table top and put it on grass that is slightly damp during a sunny day with the concave side facing down.  This will let one side absorb some moisture and the sun will dry/pull moisture through the other side.  The idea is to balance the moisture content in the wood so that it will flatten.  After leaving it out for about 3 hours, the wood had indeed flattened.  Actually it started to warp a little in the other way so I had to flip it one more time and keep a more careful eye on it.

Once it was flat, I took it into the garage but sometime can up and I had to leave it there for a few hours.  When I returned, the table was warped again but not as bad as before.  My idea was to sand the table when it was flat so that I can immediately apply some polyurethane varnish to seal the moisture so that it won't warp again, but couldn't get to it in time so it looks like I will have to try this again next weekend.