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Author Topic: Beehive lumber  (Read 15665 times)
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« on: September 17, 2009, 04:47:55 AM »

Has anyone heard of using basswood lumber for beehives.  One of my uncles told me he thought beehives were made of basswood and that my Grandpa used to sell basswood trees to a company (now long gone) that used to make beehives from them.

As winter approaches my bee-nuts brain is trying to find ways to keep busy with me bee hobby and as I want to expand I will need more equipment.  I am not rich so I want to find the most economical lumber to use.  Last time I went to Menard's and priced lumber for deep boxes it seemed like I would be chasing my tale by building boxes vs buying them.  By that I mean there would be little savings.  There has got to be a way to save more money building the stuff.  Once I know what lumber is the cheapest yet hardy enough I can start calling local lumber yards and find the best deal for my boxes.  If not I just need to bite the bullet and call Dadant or Mann lake and order everything and make a trip to pick it up all at one time and get it over with.

So if anyone can give me some suggestions I will appreciate it.  I want to build everything but the frames.

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« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2009, 06:35:07 AM »

I've used basswood in the past and had no problem with it...it is a bit soft so you'll want to be careful when working it. Make sure you protect it well with paint/wax-rosin or whatever and you're good to go.

I've always made my own woodenware but I'm a woodworker and have everything needed to get the job done with minimum effort and buy lumber at wholesale so it's worth it for me. I can build deeps for around $4.50 each in materials but if I were to calculate labor into it I'd still be better off buying from Dadant.

I just made 20 med boxes for supers out of some tupelo that I had milled some years ago and that seemed to work well, however the milling cost $90 and I had to air-dry the lumber for several years before I could use it. I guess it boils down to how much effort you are willing to put in to it to save a few bucks.
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« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2009, 07:06:54 AM »

Also watch for sales.  I think Brushy has a free shipping one around December(correct me if someone knows the actual time)  which could be a significant savings and might tip the balance in favor of buying them.  As for what wood you can use, I think almost anything wood work, I mean the most common one is pine and that's isn't especially strong or rot resistant it's just cheaper than some of the others.
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« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2009, 09:11:30 AM »

I have to agree with hardwood - I'm a woodworker with a shop full of tools, and an incorrigible pack rat as well.  If you just go to the lumber yard and buy materials to make your equipment out of you won't save all that much money.  If you don't already have the tools and skills that you will need you will probably be better off just shopping for the best deal you can find.

After that being said.  I made all of my hive bodies (8 I think) for my first season out of one sheet of B-C Exterior grade lumber (about $30) last winter.  All the other equipment were made out of scraps.   I'm sure that plywood boxes won't last a lifetime like high quality solid wood might, but so far they look like new.  My outer covers have a 2-3" overhang so that they keep the boxes dryer though.  The bees keep the insides coated with propolis so if I take care of the exteriors they might actually last a long time.  I'll see.

Until (if) this hobby generates positive cash flow or I win the lottery I have to keep the expenses as low as possible.
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« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2009, 02:54:04 AM »

Thanks for info

The commercial folks I deal with build everything but boxes and frames.  When you look at the price of inner and outer covers and bottom boards it is evident that you can easily save money by building these on your own.  I guess it is just a matter of finding the lumber for boxes on sale or something.  Shipping is what makes it worth the effort if you are only in need of a few boxes.  It is to bad that you need a 1" x 12" to make deeps from.  If you ask me, deeps and frames should be reduced a quarter inch to save us all some money by being able to use a one by ten. 

I was also thinking last night that a thin sheet (1/8" or thicker) of white plastic should work as well if not better than the tin cover on the telescoping covers.  Has anyone tried this.

Also is it really worth all the effort to make finger or rabbit joints.  Will a butt joint work well or do the boxes easily lose there squareness.

Thanks
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« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2009, 08:51:21 AM »


Also is it really worth all the effort to make finger or rabbit joints.  Will a butt joint work well or do the boxes easily lose there squareness.


The thing about a butt joint is how it fails when it does.   It can just fall apart all of a sudden once it's compromised.  The more complex joints don't usually do that unless the wood is falling apart rotten.  In my opinion as a woodworker (once cabinet maker) is that a rabbit is only a little bit better than a butt joint - the problem with both is that glue doesn't hold well on end grain.  However, if you glue it and screw it, and keep it dry even a lowly butt joint will last a long time - if you don't expect too much out of it.
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« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2009, 06:01:02 PM »

Butt joints will work ok, for a hobbiest, use a good glue and 1 3/4 - 2 in plaster board screws.

Price around for lumber, get 1x12's 12 ft long, use the ripped excess for lugs etc..
Freight will Kill You, Mann Lake out of Hackensack, MN., I would think may be your closet supplier.

Yes Bushy does have free shipping in Dec. one catch, only east of the Mississippi River !!!



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« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2009, 08:57:47 PM »

I have a friend that cuts trees in people's yards. He gives me all the pine logs that I want. I haul them to another friend with a band saw sawmill who saws them into boards. When they dry, I plane them. I get some beautiful boards.       


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« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2009, 09:15:21 PM »

Thanks for info

The commercial folks I deal with build everything but boxes and frames.  When you look at the price of inner and outer covers and bottom boards it is evident that you can easily save money by building these on your own.  I guess it is just a matter of finding the lumber for boxes on sale or something.  Shipping is what makes it worth the effort if you are only in need of a few boxes.  It is to bad that you need a 1" x 12" to make deeps from.  If you ask me, deeps and frames should be reduced a quarter inch to save us all some money by being able to use a one by ten.  

I was also thinking last night that a thin sheet (1/8" or thicker) of white plastic should work as well if not better than the tin cover on the telescoping covers.  Has anyone tried this.

Also is it really worth all the effort to make finger or rabbit joints.  Will a butt joint work well or do the boxes easily lose there squareness.

Thanks



        I use marine grade plywood 3/8" inner and 5/8" outer covers  and ONLY PAINT NO TIN on the out side of the telescoping covers.Got telescoping covers over 30 years like this. I use all medium all 10 frame boxes 6 5/8" for about 25 years.



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« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2009, 10:31:36 PM »

That's a good looking bee yard Bee-Bop.  Except now you can call dumpster diving guerilla recycling.
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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2009, 06:26:50 PM »

Thanks for all the great info folks!!

Bee-Bop

That pic is beautiful.  I doubt anything I make will be that pretty but someday maybe.

I think I will just go with a rabbit or butt joint this time around when I make boxes and take some extra time to glue and screw everything up good..  I actually found some extra heavy duty pallets at work that we get plastic pellets from Bayer on.  I can not believe the quality of wood they put into there pallets.  I will have to show you all a pic when I get some home.  I cant take any pics at work cause everything is top secret there.  LOL.  They will only work for shallow boxes but you cant beat free.
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« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2009, 08:09:07 PM »

After reading all the comments about butt joints, I thought I'd ask the bee keepers with wood working skills, if a butt joint could be reinforced somehow??  My "shop" is limited to a few hand saws, plus a few other simple tools.

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« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2009, 08:37:38 PM »

After reading all the comments about butt joints, I thought I'd ask the bee keepers with wood working skills, if a butt joint could be reinforced somehow??  My "shop" is limited to a few hand saws, plus a few other simple tools.

Regards,
Tucker

Yes, Tight Bond wood glue and 2" dry wall screws.
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« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2009, 10:02:25 PM »

After reading all the comments about butt joints, I thought I'd ask the bee keepers with wood working skills, if a butt joint could be reinforced somehow??  My "shop" is limited to a few hand saws, plus a few other simple tools.

Regards,
Tucker

Dowels are almost as good as one of the complex joints because they allow long grain contact on both pieces for good glue adhesion - plus the glue joint is in shear.  Assemble first using wood glue and screws just like asprince said, and then drill some holes through the joint and glue in a few dowels. 

Glue and screws will hold for a pretty long time, but eventually the wood shrinks and deteriorates a bit (or the screws rust) and the screws lose their bite, then the end grain glue joint left on it's own will fail. 

Nothing lasts forever though. 
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« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2009, 10:19:32 AM »

What basswood used to be popular for was making the comb honey boxes aka section boxes.  The beekeeping industry went through a lot of basswood making those boxes back when that was the most popular way to buy honey.
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« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2009, 12:14:31 PM »

i'm getting ready to stop using butt joints since i used the excuse of making some drawers  evil to buy a new dovetail jig from Lowes. 
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« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2009, 02:11:17 AM »

If the ol lady ever says it her or the finger joints, it the finger joints.
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« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2009, 12:34:35 AM »

Basswood is normally used for frames that are used for comb honey.
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« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2009, 07:46:18 PM »

After reading all the comments about butt joints, I thought I'd ask the bee keepers with wood working skills, if a butt joint could be reinforced somehow??  My "shop" is limited to a few hand saws, plus a few other simple tools.

Regards,
Tucker

A good way to reinforce butt joints is to rabbet them.  Cut the frame rest rabbet on 3 sides of each end, the long side will have a buried end and the width board will only have 3/8 inch end exposed.  It is necessary to cut the side boards 3/4 of an inch longer to compensate.  I set my router for a 3/4 x 3/8 cut, 3/4 from the top of the board, 3/8 is 1/2 way through.
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« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2009, 09:10:23 PM »

My "shop" is limited to a few hand saws, plus a few other simple tools.

Don't know what simple tools you have but the rabbits can be cut with a table saw, radial arm saw, router, and even some jointers.

A rabbit joint is much stronger than a simple butt joint since there is more surface contact between the two boards. Use good glue and screws hold better than nails also.

Paint helps very much to keep moisture down from the outside of the box which will help prevent warping.

Sounds like you need to get a saw or router for Christmas Wink

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« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2009, 12:19:50 AM »

I've been making my boxes with eastern white pine. Joining with 45degree lock miter router bit (on router table!). Makes a very strong joint, self squaring plus Titebond glue (2 or 3) and crown staples. I've been milling the boards for 7/8" thick but may just do that for deeps and do the medium supers 3/4". Also thought about making deeps from Hemlock. I know it's heavier but don't expect to be moving deeps as much as the supers. Both types of wood are abundant in this area. Hemlock here on the farm and I mill it myself. Pine from a local mill - custom cut and a lot cheaper than lumber yard or "Big Box Stores".

Both woods seem to "weather" well as long as they are off the ground. We had unpainted structures here on the farm that lasted for years.
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« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2010, 12:43:07 AM »

I know that this is an old topic, but I thought my sourcing might be useful be useful.

I get my lumber from the scraps of 2 local cabinet makers. They have high quality materials. Now I don't get long beautiful boards and have to make a couple more cuts, but the cost is right. A gallon of my honey each for a couple of pick loads.

Lately, they haven't had much, so I have been asking local farmers if they have any barn board they want to get rid of. Again this is usually pretty high quality, but I have to run it through a planer.

Also, when I make my boxes, I never paint. I rub them out with paste of beeswax, linseed oil, and a bit of turpentine. This seals the wood really well, never comes off, waterproofs the box, and cures into a pleasant golden color. I make gobs of the stuff, package it in little plastic tubs, like car wax comes in, and sell it to local woodworkers.

Last, I think the bees like the smell of pine and beeswax, because I have caught several swarms in these boxes with no baiting other than the finish.

Anyway, forgive me for reviving a dead topic.

Have fun.

Adam
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« Reply #22 on: June 01, 2010, 12:11:34 PM »


Last, I think the bees like the smell of pine and beeswax, because I have caught several swarms in these boxes with no baiting other than the finish.

Adam


Not to mention bears and other bee predetors.

I just paint my beehives on the outside with Barn and Fence paint. It's cheap and it lasts...I have hives I painted 5 years ago, the paint still looks fresh, and that lumber is still in pristine condition.

Scot
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« Reply #23 on: June 01, 2010, 08:08:24 PM »

I was also thinking last night that a thin sheet (1/8" or thicker) of white plastic should work as well if not better than the tin cover on the telescoping covers.  Has anyone tried this.

              bee-nuts...........
     The aluminum roofing for hive cover can purchased for almost noting in the form of (use litho sheets) at almost any newspaper office @ $0.25 per sheet a sheet is (35"X 22-1/2") In Athol,MA.


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« Reply #24 on: June 04, 2010, 01:03:22 PM »


1x8 x 6' Fenceboards are sold as a major loss leader.  $1.39/ea was a recent price.  A single board can be ripped to build mediums. The boards should be picked over, as open knots are problem.  On the west coast these are incense cedar or redwood.  I use dry redwood for supers and the incense cedar (3 1x6) for top covers.

 Some mills sell rough dimension and on some the  actual dimension is 5/8" so the scaling for standard size interior dimensions need to be adjusted slightly to avoid a 1/4 inch under run. Look for boards that are mostly dry (light), and full dimension in thickness.

My preferred joint construction is to use cabinet biscuits (#10's) and Titebond III

 My image show scrap pine board building a full deep. I use 3 biscuits on deeps and 3 drywall screws. I drill pilot holes/counter sinks for the drywall screws.

The advantage of butt joint/biscuits is that the running length of wood is under six feet.   If you build using finger joints, you over run six feet.



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« Reply #25 on: June 05, 2010, 02:00:14 AM »

How do you make these biscuit joints?
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« Reply #26 on: June 05, 2010, 02:04:13 AM »

I was also thinking last night that a thin sheet (1/8" or thicker) of white plastic should work as well if not better than the tin cover on the telescoping covers.  Has anyone tried this.

              bee-nuts...........
     The aluminum roofing for hive cover can purchased for almost noting in the form of (use litho sheets) at almost any newspaper office @ $0.25 per sheet a sheet is (35"X 22-1/2") In Athol,MA.


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At newspaper printing office?  Tell me more.
I bought aluminum valley metal which I did not care for when roofing cause its to chincy.  Would much rater use galvanized metal but too spendy for a cover.
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« Reply #27 on: June 05, 2010, 08:09:10 AM »

At newspaper printing office?  Tell me more.
I bought aluminum valley metal which I did not care for when roofing cause its to chincy.  Would much rater use galvanized metal but too spendy for a cover.


 Yes  most if thay use litho sheets. It is about the same as  aluminum valley metal for roofing. All so look at


     http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php/topic,27509.msg216453.html#msg216453



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« Reply #28 on: June 05, 2010, 09:21:58 AM »

     If you can find a concrete foundation co. to sell you some use  plywood that thay use on the concrete forums.You can use at for bottom boards and outer covers

 Note:it's a marine grade plywood  hope this help you out.


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« Last Edit: June 05, 2010, 02:38:42 PM by Jim 134 » Logged

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« Reply #29 on: June 05, 2010, 11:38:34 AM »

Biscuit joints are cut with a biscuit joiner aka biscuit cutter.  This is a hand held power tool that is standard in cabinet shops.  They can be purchased new for about $125, and lightly used for much less.

They are essentially a special purpose cutting blade-- a small carbide blade cuts a slot to a predetermined depth.  The biscuits are compressed wood, when glue is added they swell and tighten the joint.  Biscuits can be purchased in bulk for about 4 cents each. They come in 3 standard sizes #0, #10 and #20.  #10's are best for butt jointing supers.  For making up top covers from smaller boards, I  use the larger #20's.

Biscuits are self aligning and forgiving in make up (slight miscuts can be adjusted in the glue up stage).  They are safe to use if you watch out for the tendency of the cutters to "walk" off narrow end pieces, as in cabinet face frames.



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« Reply #30 on: June 05, 2010, 02:51:51 PM »

    If you can find a concrete foundation co. to sell you some use  plywood that thay use on the concrete forums.You can use at for bottom boards and outer covers

 Note:it's a marine grade plywood  hope this help you out.


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Absolutly helps.  I know a concrete guy.  When they get rid of them ther are probably beat up pretty bad though are the not?
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« Reply #31 on: June 05, 2010, 02:56:38 PM »

JWChesnut

Im guessing you need to clamp everything till glue sets good with swelling biscuits?  Or will the screws do the job?  Im really liking the sound of this for deeps if I dont need a million clamps if I want to make more than one box a day.
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« Reply #32 on: June 05, 2010, 03:05:18 PM »

Absolutly helps.  I know a concrete guy.  When they get rid of them ther are probably beat up pretty bad though are the not?




 The ones that do houses are the best.



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« Reply #33 on: June 05, 2010, 03:12:59 PM »

Will the screws do the job?  

 Just use decking  screws for the corner joints




     BEE HAPPY Jim 134 Smiley
« Last Edit: June 05, 2010, 05:45:38 PM by Jim 134 » Logged

"Tell me and I'll forget,show me and I may  remember,involve me and I'll understand"
        Chinese Proverb

"The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways."
 John F. Kennedy
Franklin County Beekeepers Association MA. http://www.franklinmabeekeepers.org/
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« Reply #34 on: June 05, 2010, 08:45:36 PM »

No need for clamps, use high quality drywall/exterior deck screws. 

In general the biscuits square the case nicely, but I always check against a bottom board to prevent the occasional racked parallelogram box

Hardware sells deck screws by the pound for a ridiculously cheap price.  The nice annodized one make a nice finished look, but black drywall screws do fine with paint.  I use 1 1/2 or 1 1/4 long.  I put the screws in at a slight angle-- starting about 5/8 from the edge and angling outward slightly.   This means I avoid running the screw down the biscuit slot.   This is likely a unnecessary complication. The angle is done by eye, and the pilot holes are set up in a rough pattern usually 3, but if the wood is warpy I will do 4 on the side of a deep.  Avoiding the frame rabbet at the top is the only essential tip.

I use a pilot drill/counter sink to prevent the screws from splitting out the wood (usually). New wood won't split, but scavenged dried boards are more brittle.

Hardware makers make a nice phillips driver and pilot combo where you flip the magnetic driver.  If you have a couple of drills available, a dedicated pilot and a dedicated driver make things go faster. A driver with a clutch and depth gauge prevents the occasional head from torqueing off, but an experienced hand will not need that aid.
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« Reply #35 on: June 05, 2010, 09:02:30 PM »

In my construction experience, concrete form boards were sprayed with Diesel or used Motor Oil.  This was a "mold release" agent. The instruction was to really saturate the ply.  Some poor apprentice would get the job using a pump sprayer and a load of really funky oil/diesel.  Like the Diesel used to wash out filters....

I would be cautious about using concrete form boards where the bees will be "cleaning" the surface.
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« Reply #36 on: June 05, 2010, 10:11:52 PM »

I will definitely be checking these things out.  I have been building all boxes but deeps because Im worried they would not hold up with my butt joints with screws and glue.  Been building all my bottoms, tops and inners and buying frames and assembling them.  Saves money.  I have been rummaging through discount scrap boards at three different lumber yards and my boxes have been costing me between two to four bucks, pretty much same for bottoms and tops.  About a dollar for inner covers.  The painting is what takes forever.  Ive been thinking about a spray booth in the old barn using the fans in wall for ventilation.  Those biscuits sound like the trick for the deeps.  The aluminum if I can find it will definitely be a plus too.  Every dollar I can shave off each hive adds up fast.
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« Reply #37 on: June 06, 2010, 02:24:43 PM »

One other tip on biscuits.. Make all the biscuit slots symmetrical -- on deeps this would be on centerline (4 3/4 strong), and the quarter-points 2 3/8 and 7 1/4  (ignoring the  exact 16ths).

 On fence boards of under/over nominal thickness dimension you can elect to shim the cutting table so the slots fall on the thickness centerline.  This is not necessary as the slots will still line up, just not be on thickness c/l, but does give some added interchangeability.

This means you can flip boards and interchange them without getting hung up. I have a piece of roofing tin with reference marks cut  for the exact layout which speeds marking.  The biscuits are forgiving in make-up by about 1/4 inch, just adjust with a hammer or mallet until everything flushes. 

Others have pointed out that the biscuit people make synthetic biscuits for use on laminate counters.  I don't think that would be worth the expense. And the biscuit built boxes have weathered for 4 years without any loss of integrity.  Biscuits are commonly used to join pieces of exterior trim (around windows, etc).  A lot of trucking might be harder on the boxes, so stress test the approach under your circumstances before fully committing to abandoning finger joints. 

Occasionally  a warped board (usually the end pieces) has to be drawn into flush.  A pipe clamp works, or just a jam stick (ie a custom cut wood "clamp" piece cut with some sloping slots that will draw everything up tight when the jam is hammered home. After screwing pop the jam off and move on to the next box.
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« Reply #38 on: June 06, 2010, 02:46:33 PM »

I do my best to stay away from warped wood because from my experience when you clamp it, it pulls on oposit corner and your box will then be warped and not sit flat or flush on top or the next box.  If I have to clamp it, I probably use the board for something else.

I hope you stick around this forum cause I may be looking for you this winter or fall if I buy one of these biscuit thingy dingys.  For advice that is.

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« Reply #39 on: July 20, 2011, 12:03:52 PM »

If using butt joints try smearing the exposed grain with pva to waterproof the lumbar and help prevent rot reaching the screws.It is also useful to prevent water entering cut edges of ply.
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