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Bowing in butcher block countertop


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#1 RebekahB

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 02:04 PM

Hello,

I’m new to this forum and came here hoping you'll be able to help me solve a problem I have.

I recently finished an oak butcher block countertop with Waterlox’s sealer finish. I only finished the top and sides and in the 2 weeks it took me to finish the top, (it took a while for each coat to fully dry), the countertop has bowed. The edges of the countertop have bowed up about 1/4 inch from the island frame. How do I “un-bow” this so that I can then seal the bottom of the countertop and hopefully prevent this bowing from happening again? In the picture below, the cupped part of the countertop is the finished side.

Thank you!


bowed countertop.JPG

#2 wdwerker

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 02:17 PM

Always seal all sides! Raw bottom can absorb moisture and expand.

#3 RebekahB

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 02:21 PM

I definitely understand that now. Do you know of any way I could un-bow/flatten this countertop back out so that I can seal the understand and prevent it from bowing again? Or, once wood bows, is it a hopeless cause?

#4 Boatworks Today

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 02:44 PM

you may be able to drape the table with plastic (all the way down to the floor, all the way around) and run a DE-humidifyer under the table. In theory as the moisture is removed from the bottom side of the counter top it should shrink and pull itself flat. Then remove, seal and re-install the top.. This may, or may not work but it's the only solution I can think of...

Good luck :)

#5 dcustoms

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 02:54 PM

you may be able to drape the table with plastic (all the way down to the floor, all the way around) and run a DE-humidifyer under the table. In theory as the moisture is removed from the bottom side of the counter top it should shrink and pull itself flat. Then remove, seal and re-install the top.. This may, or may not work but it's the only solution I can think of...

Good luck :)


I agree that seems to be your best bet. The only other option is a wide belt sander but your top would end up being about 1/2 inch thick. The worst case scenario is you got a really good learning experience about moisture and wood movement. Did you make the top? If so did you alternate grain direction for each board?
good luck

#6 stahlee

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Posted 15 October 2012 - 03:49 PM

I would just remove it right now and let it dry out again, it should go back close to flat. Leave it sit for 2 weeks and then sand flat again. Then seal all sides.

#7 Grain Guy

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 04:10 AM

If I were in your shoes, I would remove the finish by any means in your arsenal. Then wet the top on all sides with a spray bottle or wet rag. Find a near flat surface. Lay sticks below and above the top. Lay a piece of plywood across the top row of sticks to disperse the weight of 5 gallon buckets filled with sand or water set on top. Let it dry as long as you can stand, a couple weeks or so. You may want to shim your sticks to over correct the bow. That's up to you. Better that it bows pointing up than down.
May the force be with you

#8 CessnaPilotBarry

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 06:57 AM

Along with immediately sealing all sides before finishing the most visible sides...

Whenever possible, I add saw kerfs, dadoed or routed grooves, or relief channels, to the unseen bottom face of large panels like this. How I do it boils down to whether the edges will be visible when the panel is installed.

If you break the unseen face, you reduce that face's ability to expand across a straight plane and cup the other side. While the part can still cup the other way, it's often easier to restrain the center, and little crown is less obvious than a lot of cup. This is why commercially made wide moldings and flooring do not have a flat back.

I've built many wide, solid wood, radiator covers that are exposed to wide temperature and humidity differences on opposite sides, and by removing the leverage, they've stayed flat enough.
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#9 RebekahB

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 07:56 AM

Thanks everyone for your suggestions! I just thought I'd write an update in case any of you were curious as to how this ended up. I got a dehumidifier (Eva-Dry 500), placed it underneath the island, and wrapped the whole thing in plastic. After a week the board was practically flat, so I went ahead and sealed up the bottom of the countertop with Waterlox. Thanks again for all your replies to my original question!
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#10 Boatworks Today

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 09:57 PM

Glad to hear everything worked out!





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