|Project by RS Woodworks||posted 10-03-2011 05:13 AM||1972 views||3 times favorited||13 comments|
A friend of mine from work asked me if I could fix up an old table of theirs that had seen better days. The table was built by my friends wifes grandfather at least 40 years ago. The top was made up of 4 wide pine planks and edged all around with pine as well. The edging on the ends was glues and screwed on, and there were additional oak strips on the underside of the table glued and screwed across the width of the top (about 44” wide). Basically, everything was built to PREVENT wood movement, which had fairly disastrous results to the top.
I didn’t take before pictures (wish I would have) but the top had several large splits and cracks in it, and had bent up in several places. The crack in the middle was easily wide enough to drop your fork right through the top and down to the floor. Essentially the wood had done its seasonal moving despite the original builders best attempts to prevent it. You just can’t stop the force of nature! Also, the finish that had been used on the table top was done pretty poorly and there were pools of dryed finish along the trim and uneven edges of the top.
I started the refurbishment by removing all the trim. The screws used had large heads that were countersunk so far that when I backed them out, the trim split and broke badly. Clearly, the trim would not be suitable to be re-used. With the trim off, I cut the top along the original joint lines, giving me the 4 wide planks that made up the top. I ensured to mark them so that I could orient them the same way once put back together. I then planed the oak strips off the underside of the boards, and then carefully planed just enough of the finish off the boards. I had to be careful as the boards were only about 15/16” to start. I was able to salvage about 7/8”, so I planed a very minimal amount off.
Now I’m not normally much of a fan of pine, but this pine is pretty darn nice! Once I had the board faces flattened, I did the edges. I used clamps and CA glue to fix a few of the more minor cracks that were in the middle of the boards. Once I was satisfied with the cracks now repaired, I reglued the top back together, using cauls to ensure flatness.
I decided (with my friends permission) to use a dark wood to trim the table top, instead of pine again. It gives the table a bit more of a refined look and it also matches their existing dining room chairs. I chose Peruvian Walnut (Nogal) for the trim. This wood is darker and more consistent in color than american black walnut, and has a grain structure much more similar to mahogany. Its a beautiful wood and a joy to work with. I used breadboard ends to allow for wood movement, to prevent the same issues from happening again with this table top. It was all finished with numerous coats of wipe on poly and rubbed out with paste wax. The top is now perfectly flat and smooth, and free of cracks.
My friend and his wife loved the new top. I teased my friend that he’s gonna want me to build a new base for this table next… we will see.
Thanks for looking.
-- I restore the finest vintage tools! If you need a nice plane, saw, marking tool or brace, please let me know!