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Walnut Slabs Too Short for Bartop?

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Forum topic by SG6578 posted 12-21-2016 05:18 PM 829 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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SG6578

42 posts in 1046 days


12-21-2016 05:18 PM

Topic tags/keywords: live edge bartop bar top walnut black walnut short boards

Over two years ago I had a few walnut logs cut into both 5/4 and 8/4 boards with the 8/4 being all live edge. I sold almost all of them due to time constraints on my part not being able to get into woodworking like I wanted to.

What I have left is six 8/4 slabs that are approximately 15” wide x 8’ long. They have relatively straight edges. I saved them with the intention on giving to my father who is finishing his basement and would use them as a bartop.

So a lack of communication between me and my dad ended with him concrete anchoring and caulking his treated 2×4 boards for the base of the bar without knowing the dimensions of the slabs. Here’s what he has down already:

Is 15” wide enough?

I’m basically wondering what the best layout is given what slabs I already have.?


14 replies so far

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avsmusic1

171 posts in 520 days


#1 posted 12-21-2016 05:54 PM

Any reason you couldn’t laminate a couple boards?

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SG6578

42 posts in 1046 days


#2 posted 12-21-2016 06:01 PM

That was an idea but it just KILLS me to cut up these slabs. I would like to have live edges on the front and back if possible.

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ClutteredShop

38 posts in 387 days


#3 posted 12-21-2016 07:10 PM

Why would you want a live edge for the back of the bar, which is butted up against the wall? Also, why would you want a bar that is six feet wide? Or do you plan on having a walk-in serving area in the middle of the six-foot width, with a storage/work area at the back and the serving/drinking bar at the front? Also, do you plan on having overhang beyond the floor-mounted framework? The answers have big implications for how you use your slabs.

Assuming you want the whole six-foot width covered, you could make some sort of supportive top or frame so you are not relying on the mechanical strength of the walnut to span the length of the bar. Walnut slabs could be end-joined with a simple butt joint supported, for instance, by a two-by-fours crossing from the front to the back of the bar (or in the case where there will be a central opening, the two-by-fours could terminate on a leg). Since the slabs are eight feet long, one of them could be cut up into four two-foot chunks to extend four of the eight-foot slabs up to the needed ten feet. Naturally you would stagger the butt joints in alternating boards. This would leave you with one eight foot slab left over but you’d still be short one board for filling the ten-foot span. I’d suggest having that space at the back of the bar, against the wall, and using some other kind of wood for it.

Hope this helps.

-- Cluttered Shop

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SG6578

42 posts in 1046 days


#4 posted 12-21-2016 08:05 PM

“Or do you plan on having a walk-in serving area in the middle of the six-foot width, with a storage/work area at the back and the serving/drinking bar at the front? Also, do you plan on having overhang beyond the floor-mounted framework?”

Yes and yes.

Sorry, I should have clarified here. It’s a walk-in bar. So the slabs would need to be centered over the 10 foot and 6 foot lengths and they are 15 inches wide. The entire area does not get covered by a slab. The back bar area (adjacent to the wall) I’m not worried about. I mainly want to use the slabs in a “U” shape if you will to cover the 6, 10, and (possibly) the two 18 inch sections. I was wondering if 15” (the width of the slabs) is wide enough or if I should rip a straight edge on them and join them to make them wider.

Red lines denote the approximate position of the top.

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htl

3134 posts in 994 days


#5 posted 12-21-2016 08:14 PM

I’m looking at the 6’ 8’ and 3’ with opening are your bar top.
How about letting the two sides come all the way out and placing one of the 8’ in the middle.
The top on the opening side really doesn’t need to over hang for stools I would hope or maybe the other end..
The 8’ middle top is going to have movement so maybe let this be higher than the sides and notch out the sides for this.
Also wondering if the lumber is going to be dry enough for this project right now.
It’s hard to say what will work with out more info.

-- There's a hundred ways to do anything, alot depends on the tools at hand.

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SG6578

42 posts in 1046 days


#6 posted 12-21-2016 08:31 PM

“I’m looking at the 6’ 8’ and 3’ with opening are your bar top.
How about letting the two sides come all the way out and placing one of the 8’ in the middle.
The top on the opening side really doesn’t need to over hang for stools I would hope or maybe the other end..”

This I follow, and it’s what I was leaning towards. From the front you would be viewing end grain, then live edge, then end grain….so do you blend it together with a draw knife maybe?

“The 8’ middle top is going to have movement so maybe let this be higher than the sides and notch out the sides for this.”

You lost me completely on this though. Movement along the length or width?

Slabs should be good and dry. Sat in a sticker stack for a solid two years and the humidity in ice cold Wisconsin is very low right now. I have a shop that drumsands for me that has a nice moisture meter and I’ll have confirmation before I start.

View ClutteredShop's profile

ClutteredShop

38 posts in 387 days


#7 posted 12-21-2016 09:02 PM

I think a bar-top width of only fifteen inches is a bit stingy, so you’d probably want some sort of edge joining to make a wider slab. Since the live edges are a rustic element, you might want to make the edge-joint rustic also. That is, instead making a nearly invisible cabinetry-type joint, leave the live edges (if they are sufficiently straight) and join with several big butterflies, perhaps of a contrasting color. Butterflies could also be done to good advantage at the miters on the end, since such wide miters would be unstable with humidity changes. If you do decide to leave the live edges at the joint, you will have an varying-width opening that will trap crumbs, etc., but depending on the look you want to achieve you could fill this crack with some attractive filler, such as clear resin, perhaps with embedded objects like stones (turquoise, fossils, etc.) or shells. Also, this method of joinery would probably require more support from beneath than just balancing atop the two-by-four rail, but that would be easy to rig.

Stretching the slab to ten feet could be accomplished by off-setting the edge-joined pieces and end-joining shorter pieces to each. The end-joints could be butted or scarfed in various ways.

You might also consider having a rustic upper side by leaving the shallow ripples of a scrub plane, perhaps refined a bit with a cabinet scraper that can follow the ripples. I find that finish very attractive.

If you decide you want a more formal look you could resaw some slabs and do a book-match. That would reduce your thickness, but you could build up the edges in some way to keep the thick look.

-- Cluttered Shop

View jerryminer's profile

jerryminer

800 posts in 1276 days


#8 posted 12-21-2016 10:16 PM

If you don’t mind some odd-angle miters, you could do something like this:

Would probably be better if you can nip off the outside corners of the installed plates and “soften” those corners.

Miters can be problematic in wide boards, due to wood movement, so allow for wood movement in your attachment system.

I think 15” is fine for serving, but you might want a bigger “working space” behind the bar—-something like this:

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View ClutteredShop's profile

ClutteredShop

38 posts in 387 days


#9 posted 12-21-2016 10:40 PM

”...Miters can be problematic in wide boards, due to wood movement…”
Ditto on what jerryminer said above. For a conventional miter joint to stay closed and still form a right angle, the boards must be cut at exactly 45 degrees. However, when a fifteen-inch-wide board swells with increased humidity it might become 15 1/4 inches wide, and now the sawn angle is greater than 45 degrees. This will either pull the joint open at the outside corner or the joint angle will become greater than 90 degrees. If the board shrinks down to 14 3/4 inches with decreased humidity, the sawn angle will be less than 45 degrees and the joint will pull open at the inside corner or the joint angle will become less than 90 degrees.

For this reason, you might consider A) using a style where an open joint won’t be noticeable, B) allow for movement as jerryminer said (e.g., the top ends can shift a bit on their support), or C) impregnate the wood so thoroughly that it is impervious to humidity changes.

-- Cluttered Shop

View SG6578's profile

SG6578

42 posts in 1046 days


#10 posted 12-22-2016 12:27 PM

Thank you very much Jerry and Cluttered for the info. Much appreciated.

I think I’m going to go with Jerry’s layout here but as far as the joints are concerned,

“For this reason, you might consider….C) impregnate the wood so thoroughly that it is impervious to humidity changes.”

Would you consider something like an epoxy coating for the top in that category?

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ClutteredShop

38 posts in 387 days


#11 posted 12-22-2016 02:57 PM

An epoxy coating would go a long way toward stabilization, but it can’t be on just the upper surface of the top boards. Whatever you do to the upper surface you have also to do to the underside, or else you will get warping as one surface expands and contracts while the other stays pretty much the same.

-- Cluttered Shop

View htl's profile

htl

3134 posts in 994 days


#12 posted 12-22-2016 03:19 PM

ClutteredShop was thinking a plastic plastic laminate for the bottom would work and be easy to keep clean and with stand water spills.

-- There's a hundred ways to do anything, alot depends on the tools at hand.

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Snipes

150 posts in 2079 days


#13 posted 12-22-2016 04:47 PM

It’s not hard to pull up 2×4s and move them if that works better for you. I think if it were mine i would come back 3’ on right corner and leave walkthrough by wall. 15” is wide enough for home bar, unless you want to have proper overhang on front and shelves in back then i would say it’s to narrow. jerry has some good ideas.

-- if it is to be it is up to me

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htl

3134 posts in 994 days


#14 posted 12-22-2016 08:33 PM

Like what jerryminer showing.
It’s hard to know how far you’re willing or able to go with this.
Here’s one I did many moons ago.

If the tops not wide enough you could put a step on the inside.
I know it’s ugly but that’s what they wanted. lol

-- There's a hundred ways to do anything, alot depends on the tools at hand.

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