Board And Batten

For many applications, including table tops and cupboard doors, you will need to make wide boards from a number of much narrower planks by jointing them edge to edge. To strengthen and hold these composite boards flat, one or more battens are fixed to the back at 90° to the boards (see Fig 3.2).

Because a wide board made of solid wood will shrink and stretch across the grain by a considerable amount, the battens are not glued into place. A common method for securing them is by screws that are fitted into slots in the batten rather than holes. This allows the boards to move slightly without splitting.

It is possible to acquire boards that are pre-jointed and shrinkwrapped ready to use. These certainly save time, and I use them whenever appropriate. However, the choice of thickness and wood quality is limited, so if you need a board of nonstandard thickness and/or with fewer knots, pre-jointed board will not be suitable.

When edge jointing, pay attention to the grain direction as this will make a difference to the flatness of the completed board. Inspect the end grain of each piece and join them so that the side of the plank nearest the heartwood is alternately up and down. Then, even if each plank does Warp slightly, the overall surface will be flat and any local troughs and valleys can be planed away.

If the planks to be jointed have been purchased planed on all four sides from a DIY store, it is a good idea to store them in the room where they will be used for a couple of weeks before working on them. In this way they can acclimatize to the conditions and any drastic shrinking or swelling should be over and done with by the time they are jointed together.

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