10 April 2010

Cross-grain construction

On a French (mad woodworkers) website someone mentioned that the US Norm Abram website airs older programs.  Great, as I had never seen any of his videos. The program of this week is: Oak Bathroom Vanity - Program #106.  The program is fast paced and handles the whole project in half an hour.  To do that it doesn't show any machine setup and dry fitting and it is great on fluent transitions where from looking to a detail on the model the camera transits to the table saw where the piece is directly cut,  or from cutting over to gluing.

When it comes to assemble the massive (unframed) side panels to the bottom frame he uses a cross-grain construction. Maybe pine moves lengthwise as much as oak in width.  If not, the oak panels could crack. It is unclear if the original  piece of furniture he uses as inspiration has the same approach. The original top is more free standing and as it forms a basin, crack problems are probably resolved. The bottom frame gets not much attention,  making it unclear if it is similar to the model build.
[edit] Later on I found out that after the first season it is hard to catch any of his projects on a perceived cross-grain problem.

I have seen older furniture with a fully framed construction,  while others have unframed sides with cross grain constructions and sometimes large cracks.
Finding a way to avoid cross-grain structures is a recurring problem, unless particle board or plywood is used.

Example of cracked side panel,  the side panels are directly fixed to the bottom frame.