Welcome! Forums Project Series Corner Shelf Why tongue?

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    Why is the loose tongue used in the design of the corner shelf? At one point, Paul explains how the loose tongue allows the wood to move without revealing a gap, but at another place he says the orientation of the grain for the sides and shelves will make them move at about the same rate. So, it seems the tongue isn’t really needed? Not sure what I’m missing. Maybe we’re practicing a technique useful in many places but not essential here?


    Even if the wood moves at the same rate, you will eventually get a gap between the side piece do to “compression memory”. When the wood swells the edges will press against each other and compress. Each time they compress they will recover a little less eventually exposing a gap between the boards.

    Tuscloosa, Alabama
    Lung T'an Hu Huesh Kung-fu Woodshop


    The boards are secured by one screw at the centre of each end of each board if memory serves. This allows each board to expand and contract individually without affecting the overall dimensions of the piece. If two neighbouring boards contract towards their fixed centres it should be self-evident that a gap will appear between their edges. The tongue doesn’t exactly hide the gap, but prevents light shining through it and keeps the surfaces of the boards properly in the same plane.

    I apologise if I’ve misremembered the project, watched it a while back now.


    Southampton, UK

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