Poplar restaurant table ideas?

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Forum topic by iotawoodworks posted 03-10-2010 05:41 AM 1785 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9 posts in 3238 days

03-10-2010 05:41 AM

I’m building some restaurant table tops out of some reclaimed 4/4 poplar planks, but I’m worried that it will warp without support on the ends or underneath. The lumber is very rustic, with dark greens and purples, so I’d like to show off the grain as much as possible without framing it or breadboard ends. Any suggestions on how to give it more support?

Also, any finish ideas to protect the wood from dings, I know it’s quite soft.



-- Matthew, San Francisco,

6 replies so far

View TheDane's profile


5575 posts in 3901 days

#1 posted 03-10-2010 08:44 PM

How thick will the finished top be? If you are going to keep them near their original thickness, you might need to worry about warping. Otherwise, bread-board ends might be the best answer.

For finish, I would go with several coats of a water-based polyurethane.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4365 days

#2 posted 03-10-2010 09:08 PM

You could attached battens underneath, across the grain.
Consider a simple finish that is easy to repair. Restaurant table get a lot of abuse.
A simple wiping varnish would work – water or oil based.

-- 温故知新

View Andrew's profile


709 posts in 3436 days

#3 posted 03-10-2010 09:08 PM

I am assuming you are making round tables, if that is the case, put the suare apron(frame(support)) diagonal to the grain. This will gime more support. If the table is going to be rustic then dings are only going to make it rustic”er”. Most health departments are sticklers for a smooth hard finish that is easily cleanable and smooth. Restaurants often use harsh chemicals and water, followed by a sanitizer (quat) so any finish used needs to stand up to that. My suggestion is either a super strong durable poly, or an epoxy finish, the epoxy is usually more durable.
Good luck.
P.S. I can use words like quat, and health department because I am also a Chef ( actual profession)

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

View iotawoodworks's profile


9 posts in 3238 days

#4 posted 03-10-2010 09:39 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions,

The tables will be just under 1” thick and mostly square or rectangle. I’ll probably run an apron just under the edges and use cleats or battens running diagonally against the grain. Since I need to make about 18 I guess I’ll make one or two and see how they work out.

Has anyone use a flooring finish on table tops? It seems something that can hold up to high foot traffic could hold up to plates and utensils, as long as it’s non-toxic.

-- Matthew, San Francisco,

View CaptainSkully's profile


1607 posts in 3796 days

#5 posted 03-13-2010 05:56 PM

Hey Matthew, I’m just across the Bay in the Oakland Hills. I recently read someone used bowling alley finish on their table top. You can’t get more abuse-proof than that. I have no idea where to find some, but it’s got to be out there somewhere.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View iotawoodworks's profile


9 posts in 3238 days

#6 posted 03-13-2010 06:26 PM

That’s a good idea. I know of a flooring distributor, Thom Duffy, that sells gym floor finishes. I might try that, and see what they say about bowling alley finishes.

-- Matthew, San Francisco,

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