Is there an easy, productive way to determine how many staves or boards to use in panel glue ups? We are a new door company and things are starting to fall into place as far as our process for building doors, but we still struggle with our panel process. How many staves and what are the minimum and maximum widths you use?
From contributor L:
I try my hardest to use two boards per panel, 6-8" wide. Obviously when doing wider panels, you will use more than two boards. If I were in business only making doors, the likelihood would be using smaller boards of nearly equal widths. I hate that look personally, but it would be more economical and could be more stable.
I have always wondered about this because I deal with a great supplier and often get packs with lots of very wide boards (sometimes 15"+) and I have had pieces around the shop for long periods of time that have remained completely flat. I recently opened a 12' pack of FAS red oak and set aside perhaps 30 or more dead clear 13"-15" wide boards.
I have always assumed the ever narrowing boards in panels on commercial cabinet doors was more due to companies bringing in lower grades and breaking them down in house resulting in high quantities of narrow boards.
Anyway, Jerry was a fan of 'rip and flip', which still comes up here on WOODWEB. Basically, his idea was to not trust any piece of wood, so cross cut to rough length, then rip it to 3" or less, flip it and then glue it to another board or 2 or 3. The tactic was to limit your problem to a single 3" board instead of a whole panel.
While this sounds good at first glance, if you had a problem board, you ripped it up and now put the problem board into 3-6-or 9 panels, all of which are going to respond to the over wet, or over dry, or over stressed piece of wood. When I met him at a show once and asked him this burning question, he was unable to address what I saw as a lapse in logic.
I have no problem using wide boards where needed and have never had a problem. I know my wood, buy the best and play by the rules - not Jerry's, but just good craft.
I think your process should be modeled on good industry practice and your rough mill will be either 'cross first' or 'rip first' and set up accordingly. Panel stock typically accumulates and a panel maker grades by color and grain and picks and sorts for better looking panels. In fact, this is now automated -has been for 12 years or so. Then on to glue up racks and then planers and then tenoners for sizing and raising.
Similar to contributor K, I never saw the logic of rip and flip. Just as mentioned, a single board bad in the center of the panel, no matter how good it may look, will turn the panel into a V. Much better to know your material and build from there.
I build with whatever is in the 300 or 400 bf or 3000bf. I don't care - I just get gluing. Biggest panels first, then while they are gluing, get the medium sized going, and so on. Train your people to pick properly and allow for growth. We have built thousands of doors over the years and never had a problem.
After I rough cut to length, I face and run through the planer, then I match the boards to each other to try to align the grain for best look. I draw some lines across the board combination at angles; some boards get one, two, three lines. This makes it easy to match up the boards in the proper order if they get messed up somehow. And then I put an "I" or an "O" on the meeting edges to designate in or out on the jointer fence.
I will expand a little on my previous comment, since it was kind of brief:
Rip your non-glue up DFs first, so you can minimize waste, using the right width boards.
If you need at least 5 1/2" (use your number based on your stile width) to get 2 stiles out of a board, then all boards under that are panel pieces.
Boards 5 1/2 to 6" will be for 2 stiles.
Boards over 6" will be for 1 stile, and the remainder is a panel piece that is wider than a stile - 3" plus.
I have no problem using 12"+ wide kiln dried boards in panels. They will move very little, and their movement is handcuffed by the frame. Arrange for grain and color.
If the panel stock created is uniform in width, you can clean up the outside edge when doing the initial ripping. If the panel stock created has inconsistent widths from crowning, defects, etc., then send it to the panel stations with one edge straight-lined, let the operator chop to length, and then clean up the outside edge on the glueline rip saw to maximize wood utilization.
You want your vendor to plane your lumber. You straight line. Never let a vendor straight line your material. Guys, I am telling this to a door guy, not a cabinetmaker. Huge difference, without meaning to offend anyone.