I’m in the middle of an oak trestle table build for my son & DIL, and currently just finished gluing up the top. The top is made from three 17” wide boards, purchased at a local saw mill, and the owner was gracious enough to provide S2S for me on this purchase, as I mentioned to him that my planer is limited to 13”.
Even though the top boards are surfaced to 3/4”, I know I’ll need to plane & scrape after glue up to remove all machining marks, so I want to get these two joints as close to perfect as possible without and ridges along them. Making this somewhat difficult is the fact that they are not perfectly flat, having set in my “shop” (a term I use with tongue in cheek – my wife insists it’s a garage, her garage to be exact) for the past 5 months or so since secured.
How to do this, especially with my limited resources. First there is glue up with many long cauls: nah – to much extra work needed in making the cauls, buying the wood, protecting these from sticking to the top.
So then there is dowels, easy to install, but tricky to get matching holes in the correct place, especially since I do not have a dowel hole drilling jig. I priced one, that then eliminated this procedure, probably won’t ever use it again.
Spline, easy to make, a simple 6 ft long strip of wood 1/8” thick and about 3/4” wide. But what about the slot for this?, cut by hand with a plane could be difficult, might wander. Besides, I think a full length spline might be overkill for a one time simple alignment. Actually, I didn’t want to make the splines – by hand.
Biscuits! That could be the solution. Priced a biscuit jointer, Nope!, won’t ever be used again, so why spend the money. However ….........
If I were to make my own biscuits, and insert into a slot, that might be the solution. So I broke down and purchased a 1/8” slot cutting router bit (which I could possibly use again) with an arbor & bearing. Took it home to experiment with it, and see how it cuts.
It cuts alright, fast & furious, and can takeoff on me rather easily. My concern wasn’t so much the length of the slot that this runaway produced, but rather any deviations in locatiion with respect to board thickness. To alieviate this, I added a plywood stabilizer to the router, similar to what I have seen posted as a circle cutter (see phots), and set a one gallon 7 pound bucket of paint on it when in use. This created nice straight slots of exactly 1/8” thickness.
Now for the biscuits. I spotted several of those free paint stirring sticks lying in the “shop”, and much to my surprise, the Home Depot sticks are exactly 1/8” thick, and fit the slot with slight pressure upon insertion. NOTE: not to knock Lowe’s paint sticks, but they fit rather loose, being too thin.
So now I have slots & biscuits, on the cheap, which suits me fine as there is a good chance I not need to do this again – after two dining room tables for family I’m swearing off such large project. Did you ever lift a 42” X 72” X 1” oak slab? Think I’ll stick to more manageable smaller projects from now on.
The following photos with notes show the results, could come in handy for any other thrifty woodworkers looking for a one time alignment problem:
Layout of the biscuits on the paint stick, with view of router & stabilizer;
Test fit of a biscuit;
Biscuits are 7/8” wide;
Jointed edge of boards;
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