Table from 200 year old re-claimed timber #2: Flattening The big top (not the circus kind)

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Blog entry by Cory posted 04-27-2011 04:19 PM 3538 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The rough work Part 2 of Table from 200 year old re-claimed timber series Part 3: Finishing up the table »

Muscling around this lumber hasn’t been easy. I need to have a perfectly flat top and bottom surface, and it’s too wide for my planer and jointer. I guess that means hand tools. I spent quite a bit of time using my Lee Valley low angle jack plane and my smoother to flatten both sides of the table top. I forgot to take pictures of the process (my arms woulda been too tired to hold up the camera anyway), but believe me it generated a lot of shavings. Here’s the top nice and smooth:

Since my Dad’s going to be using the table to work on computers, he was worried that small parts would fall through the holes from the old joinery. So, I had to fill them in. I considered using dowels or drilling them out to try and make it seamless, or at least hidden. After thinking about it, though, I decided to fill them with Durham’s Rock Hard. I don’t really want to hide the holes. In fact, I think it’s one of the cool features of using an old piece of lumber like this. The Rock Hard will be nice and smooth, but still show where the holes were.

Another problem facing me is how to deal with the checking on the end of the board. The board had some pretty good checks on one end after cross cutting it to size. They used to be in the middle, but the cut really exposed them. I thought about a butterfly inlay, but I didn’t want to add any details to the top. In the end, I drilled a hole for a screw, then counter bored it for a dowel. I used 3” screws to close the crack in two places. It’s tight as a drum now. Again, I’m not really trying to hide the fix. The dowels will be flush trimmed.

Next up is the final sanding and finish of the top.

Thanks for looking.


-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

4 comments so far

View 489tad's profile


3368 posts in 3036 days

#1 posted 04-27-2011 04:55 PM

I just went back to look a the original timber. Wow, nice work. The top looks great. I think just filling the holes will add to the character and the story of the table. Keep us posted.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3673 days

#2 posted 04-27-2011 05:21 PM

thats one great top – with a lot of history in it for years to come. I personally would use wood patches to fill in the holes, but this is really a personal thing ;)

looking forward for the next steps

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Cory's profile


760 posts in 3443 days

#3 posted 04-27-2011 05:35 PM

I thought about it, Purp. I even went as far as to cut a butterfly and insert a dowel into the holes. I was worried that the butterfly would be too busy on the top. The dowels didn’t fit exactly, so I was going to have to enlarge the holes or still put in some filler. In the end, it turned out ok but I would have much rather had a piece without any holes at all.

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

View kenn's profile


810 posts in 3744 days

#4 posted 04-28-2011 05:16 AM

I agree, leaving the holes would have been ideal from a woodworker’s viewpoint but there are others involved in this project. You have to do what works for all involved. Hiding the screws is best. Looking forward to more on this.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

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