end grain coffee table top

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Forum topic by DustyGuy posted 07-01-2015 02:29 PM 902 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View DustyGuy's profile


14 posts in 1234 days

07-01-2015 02:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tip question rustic

Hi guys!

Looking for opinion on my latest project. I do a lot of work with reclaimed/salvaged wood and recently came into several 100 year old heart pine 6×6 beams. There was one short piece around 3’ long that I had no real use for, but giving it a closer look, I saw that it had a very tight grain, and a light bulb went off. The next couple hours found me slicing it into 3/4” pieces, squaring them up, and gluing them into the 20” x 30” piece you see here. Now I’d like to glue this to a piece of plywood and then put a 4” border around it, creating a top for something yet to be determined. So my question is, how much do I have to worry about that old expansion/contraction demon rearing it’s ugly head? I’ve seen a lot of cutting boards made like this, but they’re generally thicker. Unfortunately, the 3’ piece would not have gone far cutting it into 2” thick squares.

Any thoughts will be much appreciated!

-- Norm Miller

5 replies so far

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1248 posts in 1713 days

#1 posted 07-01-2015 02:56 PM

Looks interesting!
Found this article:
Seems that you need to slice the end grain rather thin (1/16” in this case) in order to control movement. Perfect for the amont of timber you have.

Would think, in order to appreciate the nice grain, that the sourroundings should be kept as simple as possible. Perhaps look to Krenov for inspiration.

Hope this was usefull. Let us know how it ends!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View TheGreatJon's profile


337 posts in 1234 days

#2 posted 07-01-2015 03:13 PM

Have you seen any warping yet? Ive seen warpage with cutting boards, but they always flattened out when the finish was applied.

How did the glue up go? I always seem to have issues when glueing in multiple directions.

-- This is not the signature line you are looking for.

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 1521 days

#3 posted 07-01-2015 05:29 PM

I’m not a fan of the look of end grain normally, Norm, such as in cutting boards, but I rather like the surface you’ve created .. probably because of the tight grain of heart pine.

Rather than gluing to a plywood substrate, it might be best to cut thicker slices and attach them to supporting members using some kind of slipping fastener set-up (such as oblong holes in the braces). Then it can expand and contract all it needs to without problems.

BTW, I can see the light bulbs you’re talking about. :)

View jerryminer's profile


923 posts in 1442 days

#4 posted 07-01-2015 05:51 PM

.... how much do I have to worry about that old expansion/contraction demon rearing it s ugly head?

You can expect (and should allow for) something like 1/8 to 3/16 per foot expansion/contraction. Will depend on humidity changes in the local environment.

A long-grain border will be problematic for that reason

I would use some other support system underneath (aprons and stretchers/cleats with elongated holes or clips) rather than gluing to plywood—- the ply will encourage warping as the shrinkage rates will be different between the ply and the pine.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View DustyGuy's profile


14 posts in 1234 days

#5 posted 07-01-2015 07:48 PM

Thanks for the responses! GreatJon, I did the glue up in sections: the 6-4 tiles first, then 3 each of those, and finally the last two groups of 12 each. That made it a lot easier to control the sections lining up.

For jerryminer: Yes, I wondered about that, regarding the different movements between the two. I’m now thinking about cutting a 3/8” rabbit around the entire edge and a matching dado around the frame, much like s cope & stick cabinet door and using space balls to absorb the movement. The support for the tiles coming from the base of whatever design I come up with.

Thanks again all! Now that I’ve been “approved” I’ll be posting some photos of recent projects. Guitar lovers, be prepared to drool!

-- Norm Miller

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