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  1. #1
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    Help! HK Furniture Prob

    Yikes! The door panels of a few pieces of furniture -- one antique, one repro -- I got out of storage two months ago are starting to separate from the frames. (Both bought in HK, Macao) For sure they were fine when delivered, as I polished every square inch of them. Geez. Maybe it's too dry here? It almost seems like the panels are shrinking away from the frame parts. Any suggestions? Guess the wood is used to high humidity?

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat
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    or the wood was green when you bought them... quite common in Asia

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    Unluckily, as kingwilly has pointed out, many wooden antiques bought in Asia are often fakes. Been there, done that.

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    not much you can do about it Jet

    wood does tend to change shape in different climes. If you put an antique in a heated house, it often gets damaged, for instance

    the change should be very gradual, if it is necessary to move it

    too late for you! once the wood stops moving see a carpenter
    I have reported your post

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    Thanks, guys. But I am not happy. Thie repro stuff is about 15 yrs old; the other stuff is about 90 yrs old. I guess I should have brought them out in the summer when there's no central heating so they could acclimatise. Bladdy hek, had no probs with them in HK or in storage. Yep, guess I gotta get my fam handyman to take a look.

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    Laid up panels - side by side boards - will expand and contract up to a cm per foot depending on the climate and whether or not the wood has been cured.

    When I was building fine furniture tables, tops, panels for frame and panel I generally used a slider mechanism to the base, ie. a notched piece that allowed some movement. If you have just two boards the spaces will balance if more than two you can have serious problems.

    Not much you can do once the problem shows, maybe put or keep in high humidity environment will help. Otherwise you'll have to have a cabinet maker reproduce the panels or possible the complete door set.

    Sorry but not much good advice once you have the problem.

    good luck

    E. G.

    EDIT: Even if the 'antique' was built with non-curred (kiln dried or air dried) in a humid climate it will not dry once its been formed into something.
    "If you can't stand the answer --
    Don't ask the question!"

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    ^
    Thanks, EG. Yep, I guess with the central heating the inside panels have shrunk. Crap! My Thai and Jpn furniture is fine.

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    Must go along with E.G. here !
    I had a nice coffee table in KL - made from the typical Malaysian 9" long strips of rubber wood that they use there - moved to Phuket and took it with me - no problems!
    My son in UK bought a house and I asked him what he would like as a "moving in present" - "Dad" he said " I would love a table like yours !"
    Couldnt find one so sent him mine !
    2 years in a dehumidified, centrally heated house in Birmingham UK, and it has just fallen apart !!
    Joints failed and all warped !!

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    ^ Aiya! I wonder if that's what the wood is in mine. They've got what looks like a black resin stain on the inside and upon closer inspection, the wood does look pretty, shall I say "cheap"? The outer wood on the older pieces has that tongue and groove (dunno if I'm saying it correctly) on the main frame. The inset door panels are quite intricately carved, but the inside and the back of the units are pretty cheapie. Woulda thought they would have warped and shrunk in storage. Shut off the heat vents near them and will put the humidifier in the liv room. Guess not much else to do.

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    Frame and Panel they are Jet with mortised joinery on the corners and or the cross pieces. If they are NOT falling out you might try and find some matching or close color wood and making small wedges to fit in the grooves on the back side where it won't show. Just center them up using folded paper and then insert the wedges fairly tightly without disturbing the panel. No one will be the wiser.

    Putting them close to the humidifier won't hurt at all, just might help a little.

    BTW your not the first nor will you be the last to be frustrated by this issue. Lots and lots of furniture made with uncured wood here in SEA is absolute shit when shipped to drier climes such ans North America. Well cured wood will go anywhere without distortion.

    We used to stick stack and dry Mahogany, Bird's eye Maple, White Maple, Birch, Walnut, Philippine Mahogany, Zebra wood and Paduk for a minimum of 12 months before trying to make anything with it. Even then the Zebra was a dicey situation. Even though we bought our wood from a cabinet makers commercial wood (supposedly kiln dried) yard we still stacked and air dried for a year.

    E. G.

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    Thats the shits ain't it, I have had some problems, well not me but my wife, with furniture and cabinets I have shipped or carried home to the PNW US and the change in humidity from over here to the dry climates of the north will damn sure take a toll on wooden stuff.
    She literally soaked them in that red looking furniture oil and it seemed to slow the deterioration some.

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    Quote Originally Posted by El Gibbon
    Even though we bought our wood from a cabinet makers commercial wood (supposedly kiln dried) yard we still stacked and air dried for a year.
    You know, some people do not really know what "KILN DRIED" is, I hope you do, but anyway I will say that Kiln dried is placed in a building with live steam lines inside, doors are shut and then live steam is almost pressureized inside the building for a few days and the sap and resins is forced out of the wood by water in the steam, then the steam is shut off and water will evaporate out of the wood 100 times faster than the origional moisture would have, Therefore kiln dried is trash wood and it will rot very quickly, but is out of the forest and into your home in record time.
    Douglas [red] fir is fine boat lumber if Yard dried and will last a long time, but if kiln dried it will usually start to dry rot in a damn few years.

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    Kiln dried is used extensively in fine cabinet making. Not talking kitchen cabinets (although could be) but rather fine furniture such as dining, occasional and end tables.

    These were very upmarket items totally hand made with exception of a table saw and a planer, almost museum quality. We used the kiln dried and NEVER had any problems or complaints. One thing it helps tremendously with is the 'bow' or warp of timbers when laid up for panels, tops etc. If there is any residual twisting it is easily fixed with a plane and proper assembly techniques.

    The finish has as much to do with keeping out dry rot or other problems as do the construction techniques.

    Point is that properly "cured" - by whatever means - good wood will last hundreds of years if properly taken care of from the beginning.

    E. G.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Gorgon
    Maybe it's too dry here?
    Are you sure you live in Vancouver?

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    Standing a couple of jars of water (not forgetting to change it regularly), either under or in the furniture, might well help !

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    Thanks, everyone!
    Pickel, you just can't quit, can you? it's dry in the house right now because of central heating. (FYI, ny first year or more back here, I needed a humidifier on all the time and slept with a wet washcloth over my nose so I could breathe. Always got nose bleeds and still do at times from the change in mega drop in humidity from the tropics.)

    Guys, I also had the lv rom ceiling fan on alot last month, which likely speeded up the drying process. I've shut the living room heat vents and the fan, and put the humidifier in the lv room. Also using lemon oil to keep the bits moist. The inner panels are thinner than the molding around, and are coming apart where it was glued in. So it looks pretty yucky.

    Any chance the wood might stretch back out to fit? (hehe, wishful thinking) Else, maybe I'll have to sand the little bits and lacquer?
    Thanks again for the suggestions and commiserations. All my mom said was "oh, there goes the value."

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    If you throw the whole thing under the shower for a few days, it might stretch again

    it might not

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    ^ hehe. Ya, and there goes the rest of the wood.

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    Quote Originally Posted by El Gibbon
    The finish has as much to do with keeping out dry rot or other problems as do the construction techniques. Point is that properly "cured" - by whatever means - good wood will last hundreds of years if properly taken care of from the beginning.
    Could be, but boat construction is miles from furniture making or cabinetry, and yard dried lumber is always used in good boat building because of the resins left in the wood, when they are replaced with distilled water in the kiln then there is a problem with longevity of the wood when lack or ventilation and a wet/humid environment is present.
    Not a cabinet maker but do know the difference in price of kiln dried lumber and yard dried and it is substantial.

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    What is the difference between furniture made with kiln dried wood and furniture that is not?

    Source: FAQ's
    The difference is simple. Kiln dried wood will not split or crack when taken from a humid climate such as Indonesia, into a dryer climate such as the USA or Europe. Furniture that is not made with kiln dried wood will immediately begin to deteriorate upon exposure to these drier climates. The result is furniture that cracks and splits and cannot be repaired because of continual deterioration. If you buy furniture that is not kiln dried you are making a huge mistake!

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    ^ Yep. I can see that now. I'm running about with lemon oil and my humidifier on and I swear this shit is cracking up between footsteps.

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    That dude sure does know about furniture making don't he,, I have a neighbor here who's wife trys to talk to me, but I speak no that and understand some, but the dude acts bashful, he is Chinese and like me he can't just set on his ass so he had some lumber sawed out of a tree he got someplace when we was moving in here a few months back, and he has, by hand, made a large chair with arms like a throne and now has built a couch or what ever you would call it made out of wood, and I mean HAND made every thing, and he sands by the hours and how the hell he can do that in this heat I do not know cause altho he ain't as old as me he is getting on in years.
    And he has a Thai dog that he keeps up and takes out a few times a day on a leash to crap and walk around some, only Thai I have ever seen that actually cares for his dog.
    Altho I can't talk to him,, I like that guy. but he is Chinese tho too. and their daughter is a lawyer in BKK, I don't know if that is a + or -,,,

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