We are all entitled to them but are we really? As we should have learned from my introducing a screw to a dovetail joint hidden beneath a tabletop never to be seen in an oak piece I made. A gazillion comments showed hundreds of erroneous opinions that have been passed down for decades via instructors and teachers, craftsmen and craftswomen and then amateur woodworkers and so on too. The wood will split, rust the screws, stain the wood, rot the wood and so on. I went to great lengths to show all of the fallacies in the hundreds of ‘opinions‘ posing as facts but even though I did, these opinions posing as facts will surpass the truth of my reality corrections.
Removing steel screws from a steel hinge set into oak that had been installed 80 or so years before had only the very barest dusting of rust in minor areas proved the reality that if steel screws go into dry oak the screws will last for hundreds of years without any level or serious degradation and the wood and steel will remain good. The rust on the inner corner of the steel hinge is more likely to have come from spillage of some kind. Certainly not from any contact with the oak.
So what am I saying? It is a rare thing for me to post on something I have not fully understood from the reality of day-to-day working with wood, tools, machines, power equipment and all of the rest we woodworkers rely on. I do not read what someone copy-and-pasted from a manufacturer’s blurb or wrote in a tool catalogue and copied from somewhere else. I invest myself in what I write because I believe it is important. That said, I try to keep an open mind when someone comments and I definitely consider what is said.
I believe the correct and original quote for “Everyone is entitled to their opinion.” is cut short by most people. It actually goes like this: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Quite a significant distortion when we only quote the first half.
Of course, regarding screws in oak rusting, wood distorting in colour and degradation. These are indeed facts when you add into it other hard facts, the facts of which I speak. One fact is that if the wood is green and not dried, the screws will rust markedly and very quickly because of the tannic acid activating twixt steel and the wood containing the active tannic acid over a long period. In a three-inch outdoor gate stile it is unlikely to ever dry and the screws will rapidly rust and disintegrate. In an indoor door to the living room using dry oak kiln-dried down to 10% you will not have any issues. These facts are critical to truth. We all make the mistake of ‘thinking‘ this or that ‘might‘ happen and all too often will dismiss something that would really result in a good product because of the ifs and buts of being more risk averse than we should be. Had I followed the premises laid down by others I would only have made half of what I have. Make a star-burst table in oak and within a year you will go back to apologise for the serious mistake that split the table into several parts along different joint lines. why? Because the outside expands so fast compared to the pointed centres something has to give. In mesquite, even near green mesquite, the table will remain good. Different wood, different shrinkage realities. In a 6″ wide section of dried oak the width will expand to 6 3/8″ to 6 1/2″. In mesquite it will only expand by 1/32″. How do I know? Fact based on my long-term experience and my experiments. I can think of a dozen other things I have done and will indeed do because it might just be the best solution with minor risk.
It’s good to ask others for their opinions even if they are not necessarily based on facts or are not particular experts. They can have insights you might not have considered. Especially is this so with aesthetics and ideas, thought patterns and so much more. But I like it when someone prefaces an opinion by clearly stating, “Well, and this is just my personal opinion . . .”