Q: I am trying to straighten some solid wood shelves that have warped during storage. (We are in Florida.) Apparently they were too dry, as the shelves on the top of the piles have crowned upward, indicating that the top surface is swelling. How can I do this?

A: You are correct in assuming that the shelves were too dry for the storage environment. Flattening shelves at this time is tricky at best. Certainly the best procedure is to avoid the problem by having the wood used to make the shelves at the correct MC and then keeping the shelves at this MC during storage.

To flatten the shelves, you will have to either quickly add a small amount of water to the opposite side, or, if the top side is still quite wet, dry this side quickly. The shelf will straighten and then you want it to go a little bit the other way. Then as the moisture throughout the panel becomes equal, the panel will be fairly flat. I cannot guarantee that every shelf will be perfect, but many should be close. Note: This process will work well with smaller items, but will not work too well on large items such as dining room tabletops.

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