Table Top Support Stretchers

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Forum topic by Scotty Stepp posted 12-14-2010 01:53 AM 1933 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Scotty Stepp

25 posts in 3801 days

12-14-2010 01:53 AM

The kitchen table top (4’x6’) I glued together has a mind of its own. I am using reclaimed white oak that is 1’’ thick x 12’’ wide. I alternated growth rings and made sure moisture content was good before the glue up and I made sure to mill the lumber in 2 stages, allowing for additional drying between. Anyway, after the glue up I didn’t visit the shop for a month and change in humidity and me not stickering (its been sitting on my bench) the bottom has it cupping almost a 1/2’’ from outside to middle.

I will be adding breadboards but on another post concerning this same table top, some of you suggested adding support stretchers underneath.

So my questions:
1) what dimensions should my support stretchers be? My base stretchers are 4 1/4’’ tall so I would guess I should make them as thick as possible to add the most rigidity. (3’’ tall x 2’’ wide)

2) would 3 of them be overkill?

3) suggestions on milling the slots so as to allow for wood movement?

Thanks fellow woodworkers!!! Your knowledge has been invaluabl

2 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3089 days

#1 posted 12-14-2010 05:02 AM

Well obviously a sliding dovetail is the way to go for that.

But I’m concerned about this, Scotty. Forcing wood into a place you want it is a practice that leads to disappointment.

Can I bend your ear for a minute?

There are some places in woodworking where you can make wood do something, but a tabletop is not one of them. It should be flat. (Unless, of course, the legs are pocket screwed to the floor, then you can pull to that. : )

Can you spare the width to rip the 12 inch wide parts down, joint and flatten what you have to square edges and reglue it? It would be the right way to do the job. Back up a bit and ponder this and what you have and imagine ways you can get it right, not walk into a bunch of compromised procedures that are going to guarantee that you’ll be apologizing for your work on this piece.

Fine woodworking is not about conquering your material. It’s about working with with it for mutual benefit.

-- " 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 mfike's profile


100 posts in 3905 days

#2 posted 12-14-2010 06:39 AM

Hey Scott, Lee makes a good point. Without seeing the top I don’t really know how bad it is. If I understand you correctly then 1/2” over a 4’ span isn’t a disaster. Like I said in the other post, I think you should rip it up, plane it, joint it, reglue and add the bb ends. That said, if you aren’t going to do that then yes 2”x3” would be sufficient. The strength from stretcher comes mostly from their width, not their thickness. So 1” or 1.5”x3” would work also. Is three overkill? Maybe, but who cares. If your worried about it then use three; they are on the underside after all. Their is a special bit I think it’s call a screw slot bit or something like that. Or you could rout your own slots but that’s gonna be a p.i.t.a. going through 3” wide stretchers. You could glue blocks to your stretchers maybe 1” wide or so and a few inches long and rout your slots through those to attach the top.

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