Every now and then we'd experience having our table tops warped and it is often not a pretty sight. It is also not advisable to muscle through manually making it flat again because most of the time, you could end up completely ruining it. There are steps on how you could fix it the right way.
If you are on a budget, it is best to handle this yourself as one of those do-it-yourself (DYI) projects. Not only will you save money from hiring a professional, but you get to learn as well and have that sense of fulfillment after you have finished it.
Step 1: Analyze the kind of warped movement that your table did. You don't want to be jumping into fixing it without knowing exactly the direction of the warped part of the table did or is still doing. There are three known movements that woods could do that affects the look of your tabletop. They are the longitudinal, radial and the tangential.
Step 2: Check if the cupping is on an extreme level. It would still depend on how concave the cupping is should you work on leveling it out. If you see that it is really that bad to the point that it might as well be trashed, you could use the trick of wetting it first followed by drying the damaged area. It is a treatment that you must do repeatedly until you see some results. Note that this is a non-intrusive solution and its effect would only last temporarily.
Step 3: There is a huge chance that the warped part of the tabletop would go back to it being concave after you have done step number 2. As mentioned earlier, it is only temporary so don't be surprised if a spring-back happens. This, however, is avoidable simply by counter twisting the part where it is warped. Leave it for a couple weeks and you will see the difference.
If those three steps didn't work, then you might just do it the intrusive way. You still need to know the kind of movement that the wood of your table top is involved and note that this kind of fix this might be more complicated. It is not advisable that you do it yourself if this is your first time but if you think you could pull it off, then just prepare for some consequences. Make sure that you understand the reason why it was warped in the first place because if you don't, expect to fail and see more damages coming from your attempt to fix it.
Step 1: Get a couple of moistened large towels and wrap them around the warped wood. Make sure that every damaged area is covered and the towels that you will use could take the heat of a flat iron. As you wet the towels, carefully drench them and make sure that all excess water are gone. Towels can't be dripping with water because they are just supposed to be damp.
Step 2: Get an ironing board and have the covered wood placed on top of it. Do your best to detach the warped table top because you will need to lay it flat on the board to iron the concaved part. Make sure that it is faced upward before you iron it. If you don't have an ironing board, any flat surface would work just make sure it could stand the heat of the iron. Otherwise, don't risk it.
Step 3: Set the iron to its highest setting and have the steam turned on. Make sure that everything is at its highest point. Wait up to five minutes to acquire the maximum heat to help the curved or bent part go back to its original form. Keep in mind that the iron must produce a moist heat and not a dry one or this procedure won't work.
Step 4: Once the iron has the right amount of heat and steam, you can start pressing it into the damaged area. Slide it slowly until the entire surface is done. Don't forget to apply pressure on the warped part. In order for the warped surface to be fixed, make sure that you at least hold the iron for about 10 seconds before you glide it onto the next surface.
Step 5: Repeat the process as you go if you still see the surface warped.All of these methods might not work if the warped wood or table top is in a severe condition. These tricks are best done if you catch it earlier. Otherwise, you might need a professional to handle it for you or you just need to buy a new one.
Nevertheless, fixing a warped wood is not too bad to do it by yourself as long as you have the right tools and instructions. You will also need a lot of patience because this doesn't just work overnight. It could even take weeks to see results, especially if you choose to do it the non-intrusive way.
Just some quick points before we completely wrap up this how-to tutorial and one is to not forget to put the right amount of pressure when dealing with the warped area. Don't press the iron too tight or too light. Pressing the iron too tight might completely damage the table and if it's too light, you might not even see results.
Whichever method you choose, you must know that it needs at least a week for it to go back to its original form. Results may vary depending on the severity of the damage done in the wood. Keeping the iron dry with just its heat is a common mistake that most people do. Never forget that it has to be just a little bit wet because having it moist helps in softening up the layer as you turn it back to its original form.