Troubles with coffee table

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Forum topic by kdavid posted 08-22-2010 04:24 PM 1361 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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21 posts in 3017 days

08-22-2010 04:24 PM

Morning Folks, So, I’ve done my first glue up for a coffee table. I’m using curly maple, I’ve made it smooth and now I’m finding that there are small gaps between two of the boards. Very small spots. So, how do I fill these before finishing. I don’t want it to be noticeable, if possible. I have also found that the flattness of the top is way off, God I hate learning. Will this flatten out when I put the skirt on?

-- Kirk..... " Hope I die before I get old "

10 replies so far

View lew's profile


12056 posts in 3751 days

#1 posted 08-22-2010 04:43 PM

Depending on how “small” the gaps are, you can press some wood glue (Tite Bond) into the gaps and then immediately sand the surface. The saw dust from the wood will mix with the glue and makes a pretty good filler that will match the wood. Depending how you are going to finish the piece (stain?) you may want to test this idea on pieces of scrap to be sure the finish is consistent in across the repaired/not repaired area.

As for the non flat top. If the apron around the the table is wide enough, it might pull the top flat and keep it that way. You might also consider giving the top a day or so to allow the moisture from the glue to completely dry out. The flatness might return or get a little “less worse” before you take any other measures. Adding weights to the top to force the flattening- during the wait- may also help.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3280 days

#2 posted 08-22-2010 05:43 PM

Kirk, Lew gave you a good suggestion on filling the gaps. You may have to repeat the process a couple times to get the gaps filled level. As far as the non flat top goes. Did your top twist from one end to the other or did it cup? A lot of times when you surface your wood or even just straight line it and glue it up, it will allow the moisture to change in the wood and the wood reacts. I’ve had lumber that has cupped pretty bad after I resurfaced it, but let it restablize for a couple days and it actually flattens back out. I usually flip the boards over every day and sometimes it will help. If you are going to lay the table top out for a couple days, don’t lay it flat on a solid surface. Lay it on two to three sticks so the air can circulate around all sides. An apron can pull it back flat if it’s not too bad. Good luck and keep us posted.

-- John @

View kdavid's profile


21 posts in 3017 days

#3 posted 08-22-2010 10:42 PM

Thanks for the suggestions. I will do them both. Because the cupping that ocurred I have checked my assembly table and it is way out of wack. Still alot of head scratching going on in my shop.. Thanks again..Kirk

-- Kirk..... " Hope I die before I get old "

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1567 posts in 3560 days

#4 posted 08-22-2010 11:06 PM

Will this help? mist it with water then induce a twist in the opposite direction. Charles Neil demonstrates this technique here:

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View sittingbuller's profile


16 posts in 2994 days

#5 posted 08-23-2010 01:18 AM

Sometimes if you put a Damp not wet towel into the concave surface for a few hours it wil take out the cupping. Be sure to check it regularly and take off the towel just before it is straight. Then do a final sand and attach it soon after.


-- Requirements for woodworkers: Sharp mind, sharp wit, sharp tools.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2846 days

#6 posted 08-23-2010 02:52 AM

I’m not sure exactly where the fault is. Is it individual boards cupping? if so, then there’s a moisture situation.

If it is the whole glueup cupping, then the problem is more likely in the squareness of your jointer fence and/or your tablesaw blade-to-table relationship.

I don’t cotton to the idea of using the skirt to flatten the top. Those two should go together with no stress involved, for the future health of both. If the top is that far out of whack, then perhaps the offending joints need to be sawed open and the surfaces resquared and reglued.

-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4120 days

#7 posted 08-23-2010 05:48 PM

Can’t speak to the warping, but my favorite filling technique for small gaps (like you’d find between joined boards) is to dribble wet cyanoacrylate (ie: “Krazy Glue”) into the gap, and sanding to generate a little sawdust. Repeat that a couple of times and you’d be amazed at the sins you can cover.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View CaptainSkully's profile


1596 posts in 3554 days

#8 posted 08-24-2010 04:09 AM

You can always slice it apart at the seams and reglue it. Not to be a naysayer, but that’s what I had to do with my dining table legs.

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

View RJ2's profile


151 posts in 3781 days

#9 posted 08-24-2010 05:36 PM

I would be straight edging the jointer bed . You will never be happy with a fill job, it will haunt you to no end. If that was the only bad joint and the bed was straight , you might have gotten a hitchhiker in the titebond application.


View Mike67's profile


97 posts in 3332 days

#10 posted 08-24-2010 10:56 PM

I’ve had great luck mixing a small amount of wax free shellac with fine sawdust and then forcing it into the gap like a wood filler. Just use a tiny bit of shellac so you get something stiff like paste. It works great. Use dust from your maple and the color will be a good match.

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