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Old 12-29-2017, 08:00 AM
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RaphaelG1 RaphaelG1 is offline
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Birch Panels - How large can I go??

I've recently begun painting on small Birch Panels (6x6 - 5x7) and I really enjoy the feel of painting on them. I am wondering how large I can go without running into warping (and other) issues.
As always, thanks for your help!!!
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Old 12-31-2017, 12:05 AM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Re: Birch Panels - How large can I go??

I find that my uncradled 8x10 1/4" thick birch panels ALL warp eventually. 1/8" thick is useless as it warps like crazy if not cradled. Even some of my smaller than 8x10 1/4" thick panels warp to some extent. I quit using uncradled birch panels for that reason and switched to tempered hardboard and ACM panels for all my uncradled stuff.

With quality CRADLED birch panels, it is an entirely different story. I have some Baltic Birch 1/8" thick plywood in various sizes from 8x10 up to 24x32 that are cradled and braced with 1.5" x 3/4" and 2" x 3/4" basswood and they have stayed very flat for several years (both sealed and painted on as well as raw wood, no sealers, not painted on yet) with no indication of deciding to warp.

I also have some Art Alternatives cradled birch panels that are built with pine bracing (not a good wood for cradles) that are significantly thinner than the basswood on the good ones above. The smaller stuff up to about 20" wide seems to hold up well with minimal warping. The bigger ones are not so stable. The worst was a 48" x 60". As soon as I took them out of the shipping boxes they started to warp. Every one of them is now warped in a bow shape with over 7" of curvature on the ends. I am going to have to put some rigid aluminum frames or angle stock on them to straighten them out.
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:57 AM
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Re: Birch Panels - How large can I go??

Thanks, Contumacious.
Lots of Good Info. Think I'll stick with the smaller sizes (6x6 - 5x7).
However, I DO like not having to deal with the Warp and Weave of canvas.
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Old 01-02-2018, 09:24 AM
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JDWooldridge JDWooldridge is offline
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Re: Birch Panels - How large can I go??

I use uncradled up to 18X24 or 30X30 in either 1/4" birch or oak. The more square the aspect ratio, the larger you can go. You can help mitigate warpage by good storage practices, i.e. lay longer panels and uncut stock flat instead of upright. If you must store upright, lay the longest dimension on the floor. Yes, I do experience some warpage at those sizes but once the piece is framed it is totally undetectable. Only occasionally do I get warpage I would consider severe enough to make me rethink using the panel. Right now for sizes any larger than that I go back to canvas because of the weight.
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Old 01-02-2018, 05:55 PM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Re: Birch Panels - How large can I go??

Quote:
Originally Posted by RaphaelG1
Thanks, Contumacious.
Lots of Good Info. Think I'll stick with the smaller sizes (6x6 - 5x7).
However, I DO like not having to deal with the Warp and Weave of canvas.

You are welcome. Warping has a lot to do with humidity. If the panels aren't warped when you buy them (Most of the ones I buy are), seal them immediately to help stave off humidity changes in the wood.

What is it that you like the most about painting on the wood panels? If it is a hard and smooth surface, you might look at Aluminum Composite Panels / aka ACP / ACM Dibond, M-Panel, E-Panel and a host of other names and acronyms. They provide what I consider the ultimate painting support.
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Old 01-05-2018, 03:54 PM
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Re: Birch Panels - How large can I go??

<<Aluminum Composite Panels / aka ACP / ACM Dibond, M-Panel, E-Panel>>

Never heard of any of these.

I believe the Mona Lisa is painted on wood of some kind.
Wonder how warping has been avoided throughout the years??

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Old 01-06-2018, 09:10 PM
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Re: Birch Panels - How large can I go??

The Mona Lisa hasn't avoided warping; there's a good section on that problem on Wikipedia. Short story is that once it was removed from its original frame, being a poplar panel it started warping pretty quickly. Since then it has been flattened and stabilised with a variety of supports, and is now kept under strict climate control.

As for painting on panels, I don't think I've ever done one bigger than 8"x10" on uncradled panel, though those were oak. I regularly work on 18"x24" up to 24"x48" and 36"x36" cradled birch panels (Apollon) I usually get them in bunches, so they might sit around for several years before getting sealed, but I've never had any issues.

As for why - I do a lot of work that requires a stiff surface - for example, I often use absorbent grounds, and I often paint with a lot of pressure (e.g. using sponges and cloths, and I freely use sandpaper), which creates traces of the supports if I use canvas.

Cheers;
Chris
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Old 01-07-2018, 05:25 PM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Re: Birch Panels - How large can I go??

Quote:
Originally Posted by RaphaelG1
<<Aluminum Composite Panels / aka ACP / ACM Dibond, M-Panel, E-Panel>>

Never heard of any of these.

I believe the Mona Lisa is painted on wood of some kind.
Wonder how warping has been avoided throughout the years??


I would highly recommend that you try some.

As mentioned already, if you don't need the wood surface to be a part of the painting, ACM panels are probably the best choice you can make for a rigid, archival painting surface. The aluminum layer that you are painting on will last virtually forever, indoors at room temperature. They are impervious to moisture and very resistant to warping. I have some uncradled 4x8 foot x 4mm thick panels that have been leaning against a wall at about 15 degrees off vertical and they are as straight and true as the day I bought them 2 years ago.

You can paint on uncradled 36x48 4mm panels with no worries of any significant warping. The 3mm thick panels are rigid enough for 20x24 maybe bigger. If you are working with 5 foot wide panels and have to move them around yourself, it is best to brace them on the back with some aluminum square tubing or L channel strips. I used to work exclusively on cradled birch for large paintings, but now I only use the wood when I have to for my encaustics or if I want the finished cradles to show in an unframed presentation.

If you can get them, the M-Panel brand from Montroy Supply is the best I could find for painting on. They have a significantly thicker aluminum face than Dibond or E-Panel, are primed on both sides, and they cost less. Montroy will deliver them for free if you are in their service area, which saves some HUGE shipping fees, that would be more than the cost of the panel.

This webpage is what got me started:

http://www.justpaint.org/painting-on-dibond/

There are several threads on WC. Search for Dibond, M-Panel, ACM Panel etc.
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Old 01-09-2018, 08:47 AM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: Birch Panels - How large can I go??

JDWooldridge, that is a good point about square shapes being less prone to warping. I never thought of it.

I've been wanting to try the aluminum panels for a while. Still have a bunch of hardboard to use up, though. I love wood but it seemed like it took more coats to get a good gesso.
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