Thick table top with breadboards - is it ok to laminate stock in the middle of the top?

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Forum topic by Nwdesigns posted 04-22-2016 03:14 AM 1129 views 1 time favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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28 posts in 837 days

04-22-2016 03:14 AM

Topic tags/keywords: breadboard ends

So I am working on a custom table project for a customer. I had some rough pecan that I’ve had for years that I decided to use for the top. The lumber was about 2” thick rough, however after jointing and plaining (I’ve always been confused on the spelling of that word), the thickest pieces came out at 1.25” & most of the others came in around an inch thick and a couple pieces about 13/16. My question is this, I’d like the top to be 1.25” thick. The only pieces that will show will be the breadboards and the piece on each edge. I don’t know that I have enough material to make the entire top 1.25” thick but was considering either gluing plywood or even more pecan to the thinner pieces then plane everything down to 1.25” then do the panel glue up like normal. Does this seem like a reasonable way to get everything to look the same? After thinking about it some, it almost seems like laminating to plywood might even make things more stable but need some reassurance or suggestions from you guys.

I don’t know if this has been brought up before or not. I looked through some old topics here but didn’t find anything. I thought I would bring it up and see. I’m not opposed to buying more lumber but I really like the look of this particular batch. I have plenty material to cover the area just not at the same thickness. Clear as mud, right?

5 replies so far

View jerryminer's profile


923 posts in 1441 days

#1 posted 04-22-2016 03:30 AM

I would not laminate solid lumber (thicker than 1/8”) to plywood. You would be asking for trouble with the different expansion rates of lumber vs. plywood.

You COULD consider gluing up the top with your various thicknesses of stock, keeping the top surface flush, then adding the breadboard ends. The bottom surface would be pretty rough looking, but would only be visible from underneath.

The more “elegant” solution would be to face-glue some more wood to your thinner pieces and then glue-up the top at full thickness.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View Aj2's profile (online now)


1389 posts in 1797 days

#2 posted 04-22-2016 03:34 AM

You shouldn’t glue plywood to solid wood.Unless it’s very thin like a veneer.Plywood doesn’t expand and contract like wood.Solid wood to the thinner piece is the way to go.
Try it sometime glue up some test pieces of plywood to a solid board the wider the better leave them out side.Check them once and while see what happens.
Darn it Jerry beat me.

-- Aj

View Nwdesigns's profile


28 posts in 837 days

#3 posted 04-22-2016 03:44 AM

Thanks guys. I was leaning towards jerry’s “elegant” way. I thought about using the various thicknesses and keeping the top flush, but thats really not how I would like it and certainly wouldn’t expect a paying customer to like it either. I have enough solid 1.25” pieces for the perimeter and should have enough thinner pieces even after gluing them together to complete the pieces in the middle.

Thanks again!

View MNgary's profile


298 posts in 2417 days

#4 posted 04-22-2016 04:15 AM

I’m not certain about the various widths of your boards, but I would do the breadboard ends with 7/8 inch thick boards and also use 7/8 inch thick boards (less than 3 inches wide but not quite as wide as the breadboard ends) on each lengthwise outside edge. For all the interior boards I would use industry-standard 3/4 inch thickness. The 7/8 inch thick perimeter will differentiate your table from the mass-produced and also give you better edge design space.

Using 3/4 inch thick boards in the center will let you keep the more valuable thick boards you have for another project. I know, you got thick and would have to purchase new boards for 3/4 inch thickness. But think long-term rather than dollars in the pocket for the short term. If you are being hired to custom build this table, there will be projects down the road that will have you saying ‘glad I didn’t waste this thick stock on that dining room table’.

Just an opinion for you to consider. Certainly not trying to tell you what to do.

P.S. You mention your lumber is pecan, be aware that many suppliers mix pecan with hickory and the color/grain can vary. Stay true to pecan!

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View JBrow's profile


1354 posts in 920 days

#5 posted 04-22-2016 05:42 AM


Our dining room table is a three layer table top, where each layer is ¾” thick and each lower layer is recessed from its upper layer. The top is a glued-up solid wood slab. The lower two layers, also glued-up solid wood slabs, are face glued to the top and to each other with grain all running parallel. The lower two slabs have hollow in the center, where the the top is 3/4” thick. This center hollow of the lower two layers made the table weigh a little less and offer the attaching points for the pedestal.

While your design differs from our dinner table, a hollow in the center underside of the top could be advantageous, where the edges could be the thicker stock and the field from thinner stock. The challenge is in the glue-up, but with planning, it is readily accomplished.

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