Table top preference

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Forum topic by AndySanders posted 06-02-2016 11:43 PM 1022 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 749 days

06-02-2016 11:43 PM

Hello. I’m brand new to the woodworking scene. I’ve grown up sawing, screwing, basic stuff. I’ve decided to take on a DIY farm style table. Something you’d find from harpdesignco or fixer upper TV show.

My question is southern pine an affordable choice for a table top? I’m afraid of warping and splitting.

I don’t want to spend tons of money on hardwood for my first big project.

I’m wanting it to be inside, 6’ L 40”W 30”H

My tools are limited. I don’t have a jointer or planer.

Any information would be great.

Thanks, Andy

21 replies so far

View WDHLT15's profile


1748 posts in 2502 days

#1 posted 06-03-2016 12:48 AM

Southern pine is a traditional farm table wood. However, framing and construction lumber from the Box Stores or other lumberyards is only dried down to 19% moisture content. That is not dry enough for a farm table for inside use. Hence, all the problems and bad experiences that people have with warping and splitting. You can bring the pine lumber inside a heated and cooled house and sticker it in an out of the way place for about 4 – 6 weeks and it should dry down to equilibrium with the inside of your house if you do not have access to a kiln. It will behave much better.

As to not having a jointer and a planer, your really need them if you are serious about building furniture.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View TheFridge's profile


9608 posts in 1512 days

#2 posted 06-03-2016 12:52 AM

What he said.

If it’s to be painted the only other wood I’d consider is poplar.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Tabletop's profile


138 posts in 773 days

#3 posted 06-03-2016 02:52 AM

There are probably millions of pine table tops and have served their purpose well. However, it is easily dented. Show me a family with a pine top table and I will show you the kids homework indented into the top. I don’t use pine for that reason and the fact my customers don’t want it, haha. With that said, they make them out of pine everyday so someone wants them and I would build them if a customers asks for it specifically.

I will bet that you could go to a local cabinet maker and get more lumber options at a much better price than your local big box retailer, much better. What ever you decide, have fun and be safe.

View kazikgolak's profile


2 posts in 749 days

#4 posted 06-03-2016 09:40 AM

I would have thought of the oak

View jdmaher's profile


430 posts in 2605 days

#5 posted 06-03-2016 10:56 AM


Welcome to woodworking!

I believe your instincts are right: think of the wood first. Southern yellow pine is harder than construction lumber, and a very traditional choice. The trick is finding it at a price you’re willing to pay. For me, that’s true of all the wood I’ve ever purchased! Don’t be afraid of other species (walnut is my personal favorite), because it’s really not all that much more. At first, ALL good quality wood seems expensive.

But the wood IS the thing, so it’s worth the effort to find and choose and pay for great lumber.

I don’t know where you are located, but you can find wood sources everywhere. Find out where you can locally buy hardwood; retail hardwood lumber places will also carry well-dried softwoods, probably including southern yellow pine. You can also buy online, but that adds shipping to your cost. Regardless, the wood will always cost more than you wish. But it really is worth the investment to match your effort.

What you want is lumber that’s is “S4S” (surfaced four sides). Again, it’s gonna cost a little more to have the lumber store mill your wood you, but that’s sensible for a first project if you don’t have milling equipment. Still, when you get it home, let it sit in your conditioned space for at least a week and you should see little wood movement after that.

Probably, you want to find 8/4 stock, “FAS” (Firsts and Seconds). That means clear (no knots), at least 6” wide (if you can, choose boards at least 8” wide), and at least 8’ long. If you get it locally, you can choose the boards that look good to you.

Let us know more about your design and what tools you have. We can probably help you get this done.

But DO start looking for the wood. That’s most important!

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View rwe2156's profile


2965 posts in 1507 days

#6 posted 06-03-2016 11:09 AM

SYP is considered construction lumber but is one obvious choice for this project. The problem is 1) moisture and 2) knots. 2×12’s will usually yield some quarter sawn (growth rings perpendicuary) wood in the outer thirds of the board, which is much less lively in regards to movement.

My suggestion would be get the 2×12’s, rip the QS material off, sticker and leave for a month or so before glueing up the top.

Breadboard ends are also warranted to eliminate cupping. Also, if there is some bowing, turning boards opposite ways to cancel out the bows can work. Use of dowels, biscuits, splines etc would be a must if doing this.

Hope this helps.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29395 posts in 2364 days

#7 posted 06-03-2016 11:20 AM

Welcome to Lumberjocks

The lack of planer and jointer simply means more sanding. Good learning experience.

At my local box store they sell premium grade pine also. Dries better and virtually never warps. Unfortunately, it runs about the same price as many hardwoods.

Enjoy your project.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View WDHLT15's profile


1748 posts in 2502 days

#8 posted 06-03-2016 12:03 PM


Where are you located?

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View OSU55's profile


1700 posts in 2015 days

#9 posted 06-03-2016 12:05 PM

You could always start down the slippery slope of hand planes for jointing and planing. Recommend a hardwood for a table top. There’s probably a mill that supplies local cabinet shops – ask the cabinet shops where they get their wood.

View AndySanders's profile


7 posts in 749 days

#10 posted 06-29-2016 05:14 AM

I appreciate all of the feedback. It is priceless.

I am located in Orlando, Florida. I think I have decided to go with (5) 2×8’s SYP KD on top. I am probably going to buy the wood and let us sit for a few weeks just to be safe. I am most likely over thinking this process but I would hate to mess something up. As for the base I am wanting to use 4×4s. Since big box stores only sell PT I am heading out to the lumber yard this weekend to look at wood for the base that is not pressure treated. what type do you recommend for the base?

I have included a photo of the table top and base that I am shooting for.

Again thank you for all of the feedback!


View AndySanders's profile


7 posts in 749 days

#11 posted 06-29-2016 05:19 AM

30” H 2” x 8” x 60” with breadboards being 2” x 6” x 40ish” making the table around 70” L I will be using a kreg jig to join with pocket holes. Is wood glue necessary?

View AndySanders's profile


7 posts in 749 days

#12 posted 06-29-2016 05:21 AM

I would like to keep the dark walnut look for the top but paint the base white. How well does the wood take oil based paint? what kind of prepping needs to be done?

View OSU55's profile


1700 posts in 2015 days

#13 posted 06-29-2016 11:25 AM

For prepping for paint, use Zinsser shellac primer. Great for sealing pine. No other special prep, just sanding. Oil or wb paint will work, just don’t use latex.

View gargey's profile


997 posts in 802 days

#14 posted 06-29-2016 11:53 AM

You’ll probably have a lot more tools by the time you’re done with it.

Based on your kreg jig comment, I’m not sure you really know what you’re getting into. I suggest you browse this site more to learn about other people’s table builds. A table top can be put together with a pocket holes, but that doesn’t make it a great idea.

Unfortunately the barriers to entry in woodworking for making decent quality stuff are fairly high, and being properly equipped to make 1 project requires the same amount of investment in tools as it would to make 100 projects.

Do you expect to continue to pursue this craft after this project? The answer to that question should have a significant impact on how you move forward.

View Dustin's profile


530 posts in 766 days

#15 posted 06-29-2016 12:30 PM

Based on your kreg jig comment, I m not sure you really know what you re getting into. I suggest you browse this site more to learn about other people s table builds. A table top can be put together with a pocket holes, but that doesn t make it a great idea.

- gargey

I’m a bit of a novice myself, but I’m with gargey on this one; mainly because I don’t think pocket holes will be necessary. Simply jointing the boards and gluing them should be sufficient. If you’re using the pocket screws because you don’t have a jointer, it won’t solve the problem of the gaps between the boards. And if you’re looking for alternatives, there’s plenty of plan for sleds to use your table saw for edge jointing.

If you get past these, it sounds like you’ll have a great project. I like the design aesthetic of a painted white base and natural table top farm table. It’s a style that seems to fit most anywhere.

Welcome to woodworking, and good luck!

-- "Ladies, if your husband says he'll get to it, he'll get to it. No need to remind him about it every 6 months."

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