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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
... which common wood (ie - maple or oak or birch or whatever) is the LEAST prone to warping? Is a good rule of thumb that the denser/harder/stronger the wood is, the less prone it is to warping?

If so, then would maple be the most likely to NOT warp?

And does sealing or painting it help keep it from warping?

Or is plywood or MDF or covered particle board less prone than them all because of how it is made?

I'm planning a fence for my router table, and I want to use the type of stuff that is the most likely to stay straight over time.
 

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Solid surface material such as Corian. Smooth, stable and machinable it is the ultimate fence. The trick is to get some cheap.
 

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How about density of wood as a factor?

Appitong or another type of Iron Wood? After it is seasoned, I don't notice much change in it.

Of course working with some over 100 year old split iron wood fence posts, I also could not drive a nail into them without first drilling a pilot hole for driving a nail "into."
 

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Good ply, particle board, and probably the best choice, mdf. In probability of movement terms, worst to best. Yes wood looks better, but it doesn't always perform better.
 

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Most of the "home made" fences I have seen have been made from 3/4" Baltic birch ply. Some use MDf as the face of the fence due to slick surface.

Have not seen any made for solid lumber.
 

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My very first fence was a jointed 4x4, it did surprisingly well
No Waxed MDF works great for me, I have it bolted to heavy aluminum Angle. Ive also used scrap laminate flooring as a fence overlay.
 

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I doubt that you would have warpage problems with something as small as a fence however plywood or MDF or melinine is what is often used.
 

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First of all, if a board needs to stay straight DO NOT DRIVE NAILS INTO IT, but rather use threaded fasteners through pre-drilled holes and countersink these holes if necessary. Man-made boards (plywood & MDF) tend to stay straight better than lumber. Use "clear lumber" and let grain dictate the best segment of a board if you use natural wood. Above, Marcel recommended Corian; I would agree wholeheartedly IF YOU CAN GET SOME. I use quite a bit of it for miscellaneous projects. James mentioned Baltic Birch plywood and I agree with this also. Good Birch plywood is sold in small sizes at stores such as Hobby Lobby & Michaels and I have even seen it in Wal*Mart. If you can have a good metal "backup" that said wood can be bolted to, use a minumum of two rows of bolts (to prevent cupping) and you should be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
thanks folks.

otis, when you say "let the grain dictate the best segment", what do you look for? i think i understand that you mean there is a property or quality of the wood that will give you a clue, but i am not sure i know what that property is yet. would you mind elaborating?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Patrick, that stuff is awesome, but I'm a cheap bast**d. Having 2 kids in college and all kinds of car troubles lately will do that to a guy. In the last month, my wife's car alone has taken a huge bite out of emergency fund to the tune of $2700. Then there is the crown she needs to have replaced. I haven't gotten the bill for that yet ... :(
 

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Chris, The stuff Patrick suggested is the best thing I know of. I use the Faztek type and it has more attachment locations than a porcupine has quills! With reference to allowing "grain direction to dictate" statement, "reading grain direction" is more of an art than a science. On something like a face for a tablesaw fence, the grain will run parallel to the travel path of workpieces being milled. Avoid all knots in something such as this and look for the straightest grain in a board. Personally, I have had great experience with ash and beech. Keep in mind that you're making a fence and not an anvil - so wood hardness is not a critical consideration, and for this reason even No 1 Southern Yellow Pine or Spruce can be an excellent choice. Remember to stagger bolt holes to prevent cupping of the wood. In my business of manufacturing plastic concrete forms, we receive hundreds of items on wooden pallets and amazingly there is occasionally some very nice wood in the really heavy wooden pallets! I have found Walnut, Maple, Sycamore, Hickory, Red Oak, White Oak, etc. WARNING: THERE IS A TYPE OF OAK CALLED "BLACK-JACK" OAK. IT SHOULD BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS UNLESS YOU HAVE NO SENSE OF SMELL WHATSOEVER! IF YOU CUT IT, IT WILL SMELL LIKE A SICK DOG DID A "POOPIE" ON YOUR UPPER LIP! IF YOU USE IT FOR FIREWOOD - YOUR WIFE WILL PROBABLY FILE FOR DIVORCE. YOUR NEIGHBORS WILL BEGIN TO HATE YOU. BLACK-JACK OAK IS VERY TOUGH AND SOMETIMES GETS USED ON PALLETS AND CROSS-TIES.
 

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..... WARNING: THERE IS A TYPE OF OAK CALLED "BLACK-JACK" OAK. IT SHOULD BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS UNLESS YOU HAVE NO SENSE OF SMELL WHATSOEVER! IF YOU CUT IT, IT WILL SMELL LIKE A SICK DOG DID A "POOPIE" ON YOUR UPPER LIP! IF YOU USE IT FOR FIREWOOD - YOUR WIFE WILL PROBABLY FILE FOR DIVORCE. YOUR NEIGHBORS WILL BEGIN TO HATE YOU. BLACK-JACK OAK IS VERY TOUGH AND SOMETIMES GETS USED ON PALLETS AND CROSS-TIES.
We call it "Piss oak" 'cause that is what it smells like.
 

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I'm learning that face gluing in laminate fashion will inhibit warpage as long as the warpage isn't too severe. Even if the grain is inline and not crossed at 90 degrees like ply you'll see some benefit. Just use the predominate tendency in your favor and insure full glue coverage. Gaps toward the middle/center of a span. This way the warp(s) is(are) countered by the opposing piece.

Some may cringe at this but it works for me.

GCG
 

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Sometimes we think things to death. A fence is a very small piece of wood, a few inches high and maybe 3 feet long. It is going to have a parallel piece attached to the bottom in order to hold it down to the table. This piece will act as a strong back and will stop any warping that might possibly take place. It could cup however it probably won't because it is so narrow and besides there will most likely be a split fence attached to it that will also act as a strong back. Bottom line I would pick up a piece of wood for $2 dollars and give it a shot. If it warps or somehow doesn't meet standards then take it apart and use the wood for practice routing edges.
 
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