Problems in Your Own Work Area

As noted earlier, wood is like a sponge, and it changes size readily in different humidity conditions. If you work in an area with a high humidity during kit assembly, and then move the finished piece to an area of low humidity, you might expect problems.

In drier conditions, the finished piece may lose moisture. The pans may shrink and the joints may become loose, in more moist conditions, the joints on the finished piece may swell: this can, if the moisture change is great enough, crack the wood in the joint area. Large flat pieces, such as table and chest tops made of solid wood.

All surfaces should be linished. We finished the butler's table when assembly was completed. However, this low-boy has interior spaces that we linished before the top was installed.

can warp if moisture conditions are severe. There are two ways to minimize these problems.

Controlling Humidity First, set up your work in an area that isn't extreme in humidity, neither very moist nor very dry. Ideally, the humidity of your workroom should be approximately the same as the humidity in the room in which the piece of furniture will be used. In a home with whole-house air conditioning, this presents no problems. In a home where window units are used to control the air in different rooms, or in homes without air conditioning—especially in parts of the country subjected to high humidity—there may be large humidity differences from one room to another, and from one season to the next. The best answer is to use a humidifier or a dehumidifier, as required, to control the air in your workroom while assembling the kit.

Protecting the Wood Second, you can reduce the amount of water absorbed and given up by furniture, thus limiting the expansion and contraction of the wood. This is accomplished by applying a good, sound coat of finishing material to all surfaces of the parts.

A sound finish coat means a coat built up through the application of a number of thin coats. If the finish coal is thick enough, moisture will pass through it very slowly, and perhaps not at all. This is not a license to make the final coat an eighth of an inch thick. A final coat that is too thick will probably crack and peel and do other terrible things. However, three or four coats of a brushed-on finish, or half a dozen wiped-on coats of a wiping varnish, make sense from the viewpoint not only of appearance but also of moisture absorption.

Obviously, it will do liltle good to put a sound finish coat on the exposed and visible parts of the picce. while leaving drawers, frame members and undersides un-coated. The uncoated parts can absorb moisture and cause problems. So it makes sense to coat all the wood to minimize moisture problems.

When you finish interior surfaces depends upon the construction of the piece on which you arc working. We did not finish the Queen Anne's chair that we worked on here until assembly was complete. The finishing of the butler's table, however, proceeded in stages. We assembled it partially, then finished, then con-

Give the detail work the attention that the piece deserves. Here we round the edge of the butler's table to match the curve ol the leaves.

tinned assembly. The same work order would apply to a dresser or a chest.

When finishing all wood areas, apply the same number of coats to each. Don't put five coats on a dresser top and only one coat on framing members or drawers. If you use a different number of coats, you set up a situation in which more moisture can enter one part than another. This is an open invitation to warping.

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