How to Repair Bowed Wood

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Bowed wood, also known as warped wood, bends from exposure to moisture. Homeowners and manufacturers typically add a protective finish to the visible parts of wood items, leaving the undersides as bare wood. Many homeowners paint the exterior and interior face of a door along with the exposed edge, but leave the top and bottom of the door without a finish. Moisture enters the wood through the unprotected bare wood edges and undersides and then warps. Bowed wood requires straightening to restore the wood to a useful state.

Things You'll Need

  • Sawhorses
  • Towels or blanket
  • Weight
  • Worktable
  • Wood panel
  • C-clamps
  • Humidifier

Weighting

Lay the bowed wood across two sawhorses with the convex side of the bow facing up.

Dampen four to six towels or a blanket with water and place the towels on top of the bow.

Set 15 to 20 pounds of weight on top of the towels and bow. Acceptable weights are masonry block, bricks, buckets filled with water or sand or metal weights. Let the weight remain on top of the bowed wood until the bow flattens, which may take hours to days depending on the type of wood and severity of the bow. If the wood is thin, reduce the amount of weight to prevent breakage.

Clamping

Lay the bowed wood across a flat and sturdy worktable.

Dampen three to four towels with water and lay the towels over the top of the worktable.

Place the warped wood on top of the towels, aligning the center of the convex side of the bow to the middle of the wet towels. The concave side should face up.

Lay a sturdy, flat wood panel over the bowed wood. Sandwich the bowed wood between the flat panel and the worktable. Secure C-clamps from the top to the flat panel to the underside of the worktable every 12 inches around the perimeter. Tighten the clamps, making them snug. Avoid over-tightening the clamps, because you may damage the wood.

Check the clamps every 10 to 12 hours, and tighten them as necessary until the wood flattens.

Humidifier

Lay the bowed wood on a flat and level surface, in a small room, with the concave side facing up.

Place 3 to 5 pounds of weight every 10 to 12 inches around the perimeter of the bowed wood.

Turn on a humidifier and allow the bowed wood to remain in the steamy environment until the wood flattens.

Sun

Wet the concave side of the bowed wood heavily with water.

Lay a blanket outdoors on a flat and level surface. Set the warped wood on it with the concave side down.

Leave the wood in the sun until the wood straightens.

Tips & Warnings

  • Apply a finish coat to all wood sides and edges to help prevent warping.
  • Work slowly to straighten bowed wood; forcing wood flat will split and break the wood fibers.
  • Avoid storing wood in damp or humid environments.

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References

  • Grandpa's 5001 Handyman Secrets; Dr. Myles H. Bader
  • The Woodworker's Problem Solver: 512 Shop-Proven Solutions to Your Most Challenging Woodworking Problems; Tony O'Malley
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