Hand Tools

Subject:
Re: Anybody note the April FWW cover

Warren in Lancaster, PA
Yes, this is crossgrain construction. If the side board with three tenons shrinks in the winter, it could crack. Or if the board is put in very dry, it could try to expand inn higher humidity and get somewhat crushed. Then the next winter it could crack when it dried out again. Bruce Hoadley gave a nice illustration of this in FWW some forty years ago. Gene Landon (1934-2011) said "It delights me when they crack. It makes them more authentic."

Most of these pieces were originally made of walnut or mahogany, both of which are more forgiving than most species and more likely to survive humidity swings.

There are some things we do today to help with this problem. One is to make the mortises somewhat longer in length, so the tenons (and the whole side) can move a bit during expansion and contraction. Another is to pin the joint with holes in the tenons being slightly elongated across the grain so the tenon can move. And some people glue one tenon, and not the others. Phil Lowe could have had some remedy that is not obvious in the picture.

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