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My first glued-up plank counter top

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Forum topic by tooold posted 01-28-2012 08:02 PM 2440 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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tooold

56 posts in 3148 days


01-28-2012 08:02 PM

I’m getting ready to make my first solid wood counter top out of 30mm (1 1/4”) cherry. As I’ve never done it before, I thought I’d run down how I planned on doing it and hope you guys will correct my mistakes in advance (at least the ones that don’t have to do with skill!) and maybe offer a tip or two.

My wood is currently all thicknessed to 30mm. Planks are of varying widths, anywhere from 90mm to 150mm. The top will be screwed on to a 3/4” plywood cabinet box from underneath the top through stretchers.

I’ll take a look first to see how the thicknessed planks face up, just in case they’re perfectly straight. As if… Then, plane a pair to check to see if my planer is planing straight. Probably not, Murphy being Murphy, so I’ll dig out the manual and adjust to straight. Once that’s done, cut to length – this first one is 700mm/27 inches long in total.

I’d planned on doing mortised end pieces, using a slot cutter and rabbet bit on my router table. I’m allowing 50mm/2” thickness for the end pieces. Not sure how thick/long I should make the tenon. Any suggestions? I’m fine with the mortise and tenon being visible from the side. As this is supposed to let the wood expand and contract, I’m assuming this should be a press fit?

For assembly, I’d hoped I could get away without a panel clamp by using plywood cauls top and botton, with cauls and clamps lengthwise to clamp the planks together. Is this a recipe for disaster? Should I spring for a panel clamp? I have a bunch of these to do.

I really appreciate any help you can give me. Thanks!

Here’s a jpg export from Sketchup of the cabinet:


9 replies so far

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richgreer

4541 posts in 2535 days


#1 posted 01-28-2012 08:31 PM

You probably know this, but just in case – -

I assume your planks are flat sawn. That means that when you look at the end of the planks there will be an arch/curve in the grain. You should line up the planks so the arches/curves alternate up and down.

Despite your best efforts you will probably not get your jointer to be perfectly square. You can compensate for any imperfection by alternating which side of the plank is against the fence when squaring the edge. I always lay the top out before using the jointer and write at each edge “F” (against fence) and “NF” (not against fence). Then I run them through the jointer in that way.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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tooold

56 posts in 3148 days


#2 posted 01-28-2012 11:15 PM

Thanks, Rich, that’s very helpful – I didn’t know that. I’ll get started in the next couple of days and report back.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2311 days


#3 posted 01-29-2012 02:02 AM

Here are some more things to think about:

Yes indeed there will likely be wood movement, but the breadboard ends need to be attached. You could glue the center 6 inches and let the top move outward/inward from that.

That, however, brings up the subject of what kind of finish you’re going to put on and whether there will be too much movement for the finish to stay in place.

Though I have worked my share of cherry, I’ve never trapped it in this way so I don’t know what its expansion moods are like.

You don’t need any fancy clamps for this. Just pipe clamps.

Consider gluing up the planks a pair at a time, then the two pairs. Make them an inch overlong so you can cut them square.

I don’t understand the question about the jointer cutting square. Do you mean the fence 90o to the bed? That’s pretty easy to get right.

FWIW, though I know that Rich is echoing the book about the alternating grain, I am far more interested in the looks of the grain match at the joint on top than the ends. I never glue up anything hardwood over 6 inches wide, and have never had a problem with cupping issues.

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in 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"

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tooold

56 posts in 3148 days


#4 posted 01-29-2012 09:21 AM

Thanks, Lee. The finish will be a water-based polyurethane varnish followed by paste way – this will be a bathroom cabinet, and I want to avoid water stain problems.

One thing that doesn’t show it the sketchup image is that I’d like to round over the edges and corners.

I had a thought along the lines of what you suggested – gluing things up two by two, but didn’t know if there were advantages/disadvantages to gluing them all up together.

The planer/jointer issue is (at least in my mind) whether, after jointing two planks, they’ll go together without gaps. I’ve done lots of thicknessing with my Scheppach machine, but this will be my first time doing anything critical just planing.

I really appreciate your replies, thanks again!

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Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2311 days


#5 posted 01-29-2012 04:39 PM

I’m beginning to get the picture now, tooold.

Are your boards coming off the tablesaw pretty straight? If you can achieve that, then a pass or two on the jointer should give you an acceptably straight edge for gluing.

Is you planer wide enough to accept two of the boards glued up? If so, it’s wonderful to plane your material to hit and miss, joint the edges, glue them up in twos, plane again, and then glue the two twos into one. This leaves you with only one joint to sand critically.

How do these thoughts fit with your equipment and expectations?

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in 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"

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tooold

56 posts in 3148 days


#6 posted 01-29-2012 05:17 PM

Thanks, Lee. Planks are coming off the saw in pretty good shape. I have to even a few out and eliminate a couple of bad spots, so I’ll square up my blade and pass everything through once before planing. I will do two at a time with visits to the thicknesser afterward.

I’m working on laying everything out this afternoon while I spray varnish on the inside faces of my boxes, so I’m hoping to finish all the prep and then sticker to make sure they’re evenly before gluing tomorrow.

Myles

View Bill White's profile (online now)

Bill White

4449 posts in 3421 days


#7 posted 01-29-2012 05:33 PM

How are ya gonna attach the top to the base? I use a lot of table top clips for projects such as this, and angled corner brackets with elongated holes for th screws will work as well. Both apps allow the top to “wiggle”.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

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tooold

56 posts in 3148 days


#8 posted 01-29-2012 07:00 PM

I was just going to run wood screws up from underneath through the stretchers. Bad idea?

I’m in the middle of adjusting my planer blades so they’re level with the outfeed table on my planer… nice big snipe on the end of my test piece of cherry.

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Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2311 days


#9 posted 01-29-2012 08:46 PM

Screws up from underneath are fine so long as the holes in the stretcher are oversized and the screws go through washers.

Re: snipe, sometimes on my planers, over time, I’ve found a little upward pressure as the board is on its last two feet will minimize the snipe.

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in 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"

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