Gluing up Table Top Advice needed

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Forum topic by mathom7 posted 09-24-2010 11:35 PM 4319 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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69 posts in 2876 days

09-24-2010 11:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question cherry joining shaker

i’m gluing up my first table top. It will be about 60” by 20” for a hall table. I have 4 cherry boards, one ~4.5” and the other 3 roughly 5” to 6” wide.

What would look better, to use the boards as wide as possible such that they having slightly different widths? Or rip them all down to ~2 or 2.5” before gluing them up?

11 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3614 days

#1 posted 09-24-2010 11:46 PM

+1 to boise, I would not rip them just so that they are equal widths… just joint them, and put them next to each other and see what looks best.

if done right – you won’t even notice they top is a glueup – which is usually the goal.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View thebigvise's profile


191 posts in 2866 days

#2 posted 09-25-2010 12:56 AM

I definitely agree with my colleagues above: random widths are more pleasing aesthetically, in my view. Also important is that random widths allows you to avoid some waste, a goal that has increasingly become a part of my woodworking. I recently took particular pleasure in rescuing a fairly large pile of scraps from my neighbor’s curb, which a contractor left after intalling some oak flooring. I now have a custom-made computer table for my laptop. Anyway, back to your project, most pieces of freestanding furniture can be tweaked in terms of dimensions. It sounds as though you have some freedom in this case.

-- Paul, Clinton, NC

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3752 days

#3 posted 09-26-2010 03:20 AM

If you want it to look balanced, glue up the three widest boards, and split the last one for the 2 edges, or put the narrowest one in the center full width, and rip one of the others for the edges. I would determine which by matching up the grains and seeing which combination looks nicest. A little variance in the wider boards will not be noticeable.

A little time spent matching or balancing grain patterns, even if it takes a bit of flipping boards over and end to end to get it right can make a world of difference in the look of the final piece. It is time well spent. Once you get it how you like it, draw a big chalk triangle across all the boards so you get them in the right sequence and the right face up when gluing them.

If there is sap wood involved, and there is no banding on the edges, put the sap wood toward the glue joint on the outer edge pieces, as the heart wood will make a harder and more durable outer edge.



-- Go

View kosta's profile


946 posts in 3320 days

#4 posted 09-27-2010 12:06 AM

the width really doesnt make much of a difference. Grain matching is what makes the biggest difference

View ChefHDAN's profile


1057 posts in 2815 days

#5 posted 09-27-2010 01:51 AM

I agree with all above and will add that you shouldn’t try to glue the entire top in one step. Do two glue ups of 2 boards each and then glue those two glue ups together. I recently did a piece and a tip I read here about using cauls saved the rest of my remaining hair. I didn’t make anything fancy, just cut some 2” wide strips that I had from a 3/4 sheet of ply to slightly longer than my panel. I covered one edge with plastic packing tape and used the ply strips on edge and clamped them together sandwiching the boards and was able to defeat a slight bow in one board and get a flat panel. Good luck with your first panel, don’t forget the chalk triagle tip, nothing worse than doing all the layout and goofinig it up in the glue up…I hate when I do that!

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View mathom7's profile


69 posts in 2876 days

#6 posted 09-27-2010 04:40 AM

Ok, got the glued up completed. I’m fairly happy with the grain pattern considering what I had to work with.

However, I didn’t use any cauls on the glue up. I thought that nicely jointed faces and #20 biscuits every 5 inches would be enough, apparently I was wrong. I think I over torqued the clamps and bowed the glue up. Here is a picture.

So I don’t make this mistake again would a caul on both sides in a couple places corrected this?


View kosta's profile


946 posts in 3320 days

#7 posted 09-27-2010 05:50 AM

the way to stop the bowing is to put scrap wood diagonally across the panel. I am putting a video out on tuesday I covered this exact problem in the video. I will you a link after I upload it.

View Cato's profile


701 posts in 3278 days

#8 posted 09-27-2010 12:59 PM

Lots of people over torque the clamps, and most of us have committed that error as well. Paying your dues in the learning curve.

They really only need to be tightened enough to see the glue start squeezing out, that is why the dry fit can be so important so that you can see if you have any gaps that need to be addressed prior to glue up stage.

I use biscuits as well with good results to index the panel alignment, and use of cauls is a good idea, but you still don’t want to over torque so that you get too much squeeze out and then have glue starvation.

View kosta's profile


946 posts in 3320 days

#9 posted 09-30-2010 02:19 AM

View CaptainAhab's profile


214 posts in 2762 days

#10 posted 10-03-2010 01:14 PM

Table saw or Joiner inaccuracies can be accounted for by laying out your boards opposite ends. A good practice even when things are perfect. The wood work will never b as good as the math, so aim for mathmatical perfection.

-- Dave

View ChefHDAN's profile


1057 posts in 2815 days

#11 posted 10-05-2010 02:14 AM

Mathom, don’t give up, rip ‘em again and do it again, these are the reasons why you’ll always want to give yourself some extra stock while you diminish the learning curve

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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