Re: Table top question
Response To:
Re: Table top question ()

Sgian Dubh
"... the tabletops would have been well scrubbed with water after every meal, and the finishes they used would have slowed but not completely blocked moisture movement."

If you think about it Don, regular scrubbing with water, plus maybe salt or vinegar for hygiene reasons, would fairly quickly largely compromise, destroy or remove a finish applied to a table top. If a top is expected to regularly receive this kind of treatment in its working life, I suspect most makers would choose not to apply a finish at all; it would be my choice anyway, but I can't say what the Shaker's would have chosen to do - the minutiae of Shaker practice are not a subject I've researched in exhaustive detail, mainly because it doesn't interest me that much probably because there's so much cod-Shaker pastiche stuff out there, e.g., 'genuine' (sic) Shaker style computer desks (ha, ha).

Large panels, table tops for example, that start out flat sometimes develop a significant cupping over time through the phenomenon of moisture cycling, with regular scrubbing with water being a cause of moisture cycling.

Each application of water to the top surface and the subsequent drying is a moisture cycle. The wood cells near the top surface adsorb a little water and swell, then dry and shrink again. The underside of the table top remains dry, the cells remain relatively stable, and they resist each swelling of the cells on the top side. The result is the cells near the upper surface gradually distort and collapse leading to permanent cupping with the concavity on the upper surface, i.e., the surface regularly wetted. Slainte.

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