Surprise! Wood Moves

A shorty today. I happened across a 22″ wide, 12′ long flat sawn red oak board some time ago. The board started out in Western PA as air dried stock. It then spent two years at the bottom of my lumber stash on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay before being loaded up and transported in a metal trailer to Kansas City, MO. In the dead of winter I took a 16″ section and turned it into a shatranj board. Shatranj is the precursor game to chess. I’ll get into that another time, but otherwise this gets us to the important part for today.

The game board was finished about a month ago. When completed the ends of the game surface were dead flush to the rails that support the long grain. It’s certainly a crossgrain joint, and there are pegs to allow some float in the joint, and more than a touch of hide glue for reinforcement. So imagine my surprise when after being painted and set near an IR heater for a month, this happens –

Move Corner move corner measure

The opposite corner has shrunk in about 1/32″ as well, but this corner has moved quite a lot, a full 1/8th inch. It’s about two inches from this edge to the nearest breadboard pin. Were I interested in opening that joint I could discover if that pin is sheared off or if it’s just movement in that one section. Regardless, if you ever need an example of how much movement you can get out of one piece of wood, remember this one.

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