Modern Black Walnut Dining Room Table #2: Naiveté

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Blog entry by juicedM3 posted 08-15-2012 05:30 AM 1974 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The Beginning Part 2 of Modern Black Walnut Dining Room Table series Part 3: Coming Home & Calming Down »

The past Saturday, the wife and I went back to Provenance to finally pull the trigger. We looked at the few slabs they had and picked the one that we thought looked the best and had the least knots/cracks/fissures. We saw that there was a small tear-out left by the planer. The guy advised us that we could probably sand the hole thing down a 1/16 of an inch and things would be ok. I’m thinking in my head, ok, it sounds possible, but we’re talking about a piece of wood that is around 8 feet tall and ~34” wide. I’ve read book where people are hand planing there own raw cut wood, why wouldn’t an inexperienced wood worker be able to sand it down evenly?!? Ha! Of course, the wife is starting to get worried and I stay in my own naive world.

Word gets back to the MiL’s boyfriend that we have this huge piece of wood with a rough area left by the planer. He immediately knows that the grain must have slightly changed directions in this area for this to happen. I had to refer to the picture to verify that he was correct! Then he tells me with a little urgency in his voice, “You’re going to have to send it through a planer again to get it smooth. And finding someone with a 36” planer isn’t going to be easy. I might have a friend down in Maryland but I’m not even sure of that.” Now the wife is panicking. She’s wondering what did we get ourselves into and did we just waste our money on this piece of wood. I kept telling her we’re fine. The guy said we can sand it, we can sand it. It will take a while but all you need is a lot of patience, lots of sand paper and a straight edge.

The next day, the MiL’s BF, calls me and says he’s been thinking about it some more. He’s moved away from the re-planing idea. He thinks we might just end up with the same results (tear-out). So the next step is to talk to some more people and possibly find a drum sander that is large enough for this piece.

Monday rolls around and I get another call from the MiL’s BF. He’s now been talking to the SiL’s FiL and another friend; both make furniture as a hobby and both give him almost the same advice. They said we could send it through the planer again but make sure you only remove a little material. This should help prevent any further tear-out from happening. The next suggestion is to cut the piece into 2. Then send the 2 halves through a sander or planer and then epoxy them back together. He said with the grain, you’d never know that it was split. Um, yikes!

Yeah, this is going to be a bigger project then we originally thought. At this time I don’t have a better picture of the tear out, but any and all suggestions are welcome!

9 comments so far

View thedude50's profile


3603 posts in 2476 days

#1 posted 08-15-2012 06:22 AM

Don’t re plane it simply hand plane it smooth with a big long plane like a no 7 or 8 make sure the blade is sharp and your able to take nice clean shavings off the slab. What ever you do don’t cut the slab in half as you will never get it back together. I am assuming your looking for a natural edge table and that you want to preserve the look of the top as it is now ? One fix for a small tear out is to fill it with epoxy and then sand the slab smooth and apply your finish. Now that I have you calmed down take the time to call me and I will help you with the project maybe if we look around we can find a skilled woodworker that can help you in person to fix the little chip and make your wife happy. Do you have the tools it is going to take to turn this slab into a fine dining table? Did you buy the lumber for the legs and the rest of the table? Ill send you a Pm with my Phone number as I don’t think you have enough posts to PM me first. Don’t freak out we will find a way to help you finish the table and start your new hobby as a woodworker. If that is your goal.

-- Please check out my new stores and

View HerbC's profile


1756 posts in 2857 days

#2 posted 08-15-2012 02:41 PM


You might want use a router plane jig to remove enough from the surface to clean up that chipout. Do a search on here for router plane and you should find a lot of examples to consider.

Yes, you’ve bit off a pretty big chunk of work here but you can do it. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and ask for help.

Good Luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2483 days

#3 posted 08-15-2012 04:03 PM

+1 to what Herb said! A router sled is the easiest way to go. It’ll get the slab flat from end to end, and a random orbital sander will smooth out the swirl marks left behind. That way you can do your slab flattening at home and you won’t have to scour the planet for the largest planer you can find.

-- Brian Timmons -

View kenn's profile


810 posts in 3718 days

#4 posted 08-15-2012 04:55 PM

I see you are in Philly, I near Hershey. I think you have two good choices on what to do. First, hand plane it as discussed above. This takes some skill, sharp tools and sweat. Second, find a local cabinet shop with a wide thickness sander. They can run it through their machine and leave it smooth, ready for finish. This option might cost $150 . Good luck.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View juicedM3's profile


6 posts in 2111 days

#5 posted 08-16-2012 03:06 AM

Thanks for the feedback guys! I’m liking the idea of a router sled. I think the piece might be too big to be my first hand planing project. Maybe if I had more time to practice on other pieces of wood, I might start to lean that way. But I’m also going to be remodeling my kitchen. One too many projects. :)

As for the bit to use, I’d want a 1 1/2” surface planing bit? Sounds like any bigger, I might kill my router according to this person’s experience. Or maybe just make sure I take off very small amounts for each pass and I can go bigger.

@TheDude, I still plan to call you, just a busy day today.

View thedude50's profile


3603 posts in 2476 days

#6 posted 08-16-2012 03:13 AM

What router do you have a bit that big takes a serious router .

-- Please check out my new stores and

View JamesVavra's profile


304 posts in 3314 days

#7 posted 08-16-2012 06:32 PM

Actually, I think your best best is to find a local custom cabinet shop that has a wide drum sander (Time Saver is a common brand name, and a lot of folks call the machine that – kinda like kleenex). Cabinet shops frequently assemble doors or face frames and then send them through the time saver to sand them flat.

Many cabinet shops will let you “rent time” on their machine. Call a few, explain what you need, and ask what they’d charge.


View pintodeluxe's profile


5658 posts in 2811 days

#8 posted 08-16-2012 06:37 PM

I take my tabletops to a shop with a 50” drum sander. A pass or two at 80 and 120 grit, and it is ready for hand sanding.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View HerbC's profile


1756 posts in 2857 days

#9 posted 08-16-2012 06:47 PM

If your going to use the router sled technique, this bowl cutting bit in the 1 1/4” size will do a good job and leave a smoother finish with less lines than a flat bottom bit.

Good Luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

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