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Solid Oak fire surround?

warping/shrinkage question

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John Baddeley23/10/2009 10:52:48
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I see these are available (web searches) and we are about to ask a builder
to do one for us around a gas fire. The builder is (I believe) competent,
and familiar with using solid timber.
However I am rather twitchy about putting solid timber (say 150mm thick)
near a source of considerable  heat - from the point of view of shrinkage,
warping etc. There is at least 200 mm of slate between the fire and the
surround.
Any experience , or advice, please?
John
Oddjob23/10/2009 19:19:18
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If you gas fire is a modern one then the sides of the case should never get hot enough to do any damage - especially with the slate filled gap you have between fire and timber surround.  So long as your  builder uses fully seasoned timber then you won't have any problems that might result from drying out.
 
Richard
Mike Jordan23/10/2009 20:20:25
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Hi John
You are right to be worried about six inch thick oak moving/ shrinking.
The chances of you finding properly seasoned oak in this thickness are not good.
I suggest that you seek out an experienced woodworker to make one up out of thinner sections of preferably kiln dried, conditioned, quarter sawn oak, this is much less likely to go out of shape in the warm dry conditions of a fire surround. Most of the fireplaces you see are made as hollow constructions, many made from veneered MDF.they don't look very good and their only advantage is stability. The alternative is to deliberately use green oak and regard the distortion and cracking etc as a feature. 
Mike   
Andy Bell26/10/2009 16:24:12
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Posted by Mike Jordan on 23/10/2009 20:20:25:
 
You are right to be worried about six inch thick oak moving/ shrinking.
The chances of you finding properly seasoned oak in this thickness are not good.
 
 I concur with Mike.
 
A good craftsman should be able to design something with thinner sections that are able to move but restrained from warping.  I'm planning on Oak surround to an open fire so I've got some thinking to do on this
 
Andy
John Baddeley27/10/2009 00:36:51
53 forum posts
2 photos
Drawings in my photo album - I hope!
 
John
John Baddeley27/10/2009 07:43:58
53 forum posts
2 photos

Thanks  for your thoughts - the question is what to do, or how to do it!

 

Points for consideration:-

 

a)  my wife does not like the idea of pieces joined, as she thinks it will obviously not be a solid piece. I think on the other hand that if the joins are tight, and the grain similar we would not be bothered even if you could see the join on close inspection. 

 

b)  theere is a firm in this area of west Wales called Broadleaf who do solid oak flooring, and offer to kiln dry (to extra-dry) boards to fgo over under-floor heating. Perhaps i could ask them to dry some stock very dry for this job. (?)

 

c)  I'm going to upload as 'photos'  two drawings of my ideas so far based on using mdf as a backing  board, and fixings designed to keep visible joints tight ...

 

Thanks all

 

John

 

Edited By John Baddeley on 27/10/2009 07:44:29

Edited By John Baddeley on 27/10/2009 07:47:17

Mike Jordan27/10/2009 09:36:58
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160 forum posts
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Hi John
The attached pics are probably not of a fireplace that you are looking for but may help to make the point


The top is Ex 50mm but all the rest is Ex 28mm. The beaded joint is a normal joinery method of "breaking the joint" by making it a feature. Another method would be to mitre the vertical joint so the glue line is at the corner. The most important points are that the timber is quarter sawn ( normally proof against cupping) and that the timber was conditioned by storing it in the same room for a month before the making. It was Christmas time so I put lights and tinsel on it but management was not amused.
Mike
John Baddeley27/10/2009 14:38:22
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2 photos
Hi Mike, and thanks for your response.
>The beaded joint is a normal joinery method of "breaking the joint" - yes of course, my mind was not in gear...

> but management was not amused.   )
 
I can't quite make out from the pics, but I assume there is also a beaded joint on the inside face of your pillars, yes?
 
Yours is a lovely job, I'm sure you're pleased with it. 
 Did you make any allowance for shrinkage after it was made? how did you join the different pieces and make sure it stayed tight and square?
 
John (who would love to be making this myself, but feels a little too inexperienced. - Oh, and 'the management' wants it soon! [But then builders can take a while...] )
Mike Jordan27/10/2009 21:32:31
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160 forum posts
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Hi John
Sorry if it sounds like a new language! A mind in neutral can be an assett!!  The bead you can see to only on the outside and has no structural function, it is moulded on the side piece. the joint is a groove in the back of the face board with a tongue on the side piece.
 Any shrinkage in the top will also be occuring in the side, so the two will move together. The pieces are glued together with strengthening glue blocks on the inside faces of the box.
I don't think its a job for the inexperienced as you say, but if you show the pics and the attached giberish to the prospective fireplace builder, and he can understand it, you may have picked the right chap!  
Good luck.  Don't forget, management is never wrong! confused, unreasonable, even demanding ,but never wrong.
Mike.     
John Baddeley28/10/2009 19:38:33
53 forum posts
2 photos
Yes, I understood what you wrote, I had simply forgotten about the option of moulding or chamfering to 'hide' the joint.
Thanks for the notes about the constsruction. 
I am serioiusly considering tackling this myself, possibly using oak composite flooring that has 6mm of solid oak on the face.
 
Andy: have you had any thoughts?
 
John

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