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Forum topic by lumberjoe posted 04-05-2012 12:58 PM 1160 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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lumberjoe

2893 posts in 1708 days


04-05-2012 12:58 PM

I’m in the process of designing and figuring the final assembly for a desk. I have questions around the top. The desk will be primarily oak but the top will be framed with 2” of hard maple all around (birdseye if I can get enough)

My questions are:

1 – since the top will be framed (banded?) in solid wood, should I use veneered plywood? Cost savings is not my main factor, I am more so looking for dimensional stability.

2 – If I go with a solid oak top, I will laminate the pieces. Would simple glue joints be sufficient, or should I tongue and groove them? Since it will be completely encased, the joints won’t show. I’m not sure it will add strength, but more so index the pieces for a more accurate glue-up

3 – same question if I use plywood for the top. Should I tongue and groove the maple? The maple will be mitered and I will stop the grooves right before the miter so they don’t show through.

Note – I know some people are going to suggest using dowels or biscuits to index the pieces, but I’ll be honest I SUCK at lining up dowels correctly and I don’t have a biscuit joiner/cutter. I am pretty good at making tongue and groove joints with a router though.

-- https://pinepointwoodworks.wordpress.com/


6 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

7166 posts in 2037 days


#1 posted 04-05-2012 01:26 PM

http://lumberjocks.com/topics/2781

This might help you for the birdseye maple.

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ChrisF

8 posts in 1735 days


#2 posted 04-05-2012 01:29 PM

#1 – You can use a veneered plywood if you choose. My dresser top, drawer fronts and sides are veneered cherry plywood and by looking at it(no touching) you would never know it. Going with ply can be cheaper but even when getting it from a GOOD source you stand the chance of getting what you pay for. That being said, you never know what solid wood could do over time.

#2 – I believe in “going with what you know”. While a simple glue only joint should be good enough I always go with my biscuit joiner since I have one. Sometimes it depends on the project. I too cant get dowels to line up right and I even have a jig for that application. I use the biscuit because that is what I am comfortable using. If you do tongue and groove well there is nothing wrong with that and it creates, in my opinion, a better joint and yes would help for an accurate glue up.

#3 – I’m sure others will feel different but I am not a fan of T&G-ing plywood for an edging application. I would not do it out of fear that downward pressure, over time, would cause unnecessary stress on the plywood at the edge and I would end up with the plys separating. My answer here is ONLY from my own thought process and subsequent worries. I have never tried T&G for this. Those that have might swear by it and have had success.

Hope this help and good luck!

-- I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are missing.

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lumberjoe

2893 posts in 1708 days


#3 posted 04-05-2012 03:21 PM

Thanks Chris, that does help. Going with ply in my case would actually be more expensive because I can get red oak for a little over a dollar a board foot. A sheet of A4 ply will cost me over 100$, and I am already going to use a mix of A4 and A1 for the cabinets on the sides (A1 for the open cabinet, A4 for the drawer cabinet), so prices is not my main factor. I’ve read that plywood is much more stable. This desk will likely take me 3 months to complete and is something I want to last for generations to come.

-- https://pinepointwoodworks.wordpress.com/

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2310 days


#4 posted 04-05-2012 03:36 PM

1. If the top is framed in solid wood, it must be plywood. Solid wood with seasonal changes will break the corner joints of your frame.

2. There is no reason to go to the trouble of T&G. Flat grain glue joints will be stronger than the rest of the wood. Glue the boards up a few at a time and then assemble the subassemblies.

3. What are your dimensions? The amount of leverage on the glue joint (the width of the frame pieces) would determine whether I used an occasional biscuit.

If you use plywood and solid wood frame, I would suggest you not try to make that joint tight and flat. Rather, easy both front edges so there is a microgroove there.

Now that I have answered your questions, I will suggest how I would do it:

I would consider carefully the top:

Ply veneer is soooo thin. If there’s any kind of scratch, it can’t be repaired.

Oak is a lousy surface to write on. If there’s not going to be a blotter pad or anything like that, and the desk is bound for use, some new questions are asked.

Oak is very busy visually. So is birdseye maple. To my eye, they don’t blend well at all. Whether one adds color or not, they won’t be color-compatible.

Were it mine to make, I would construct a solid top with breadboard ends—you’d get to do tongue and groove after all—and contrasting color dowel details on the breadboard ends: real ones where the end is attached, dummies where it isn’t.

You can have a lot of fun with contrasting dowel details and all it takes is a drill bit and a plug cutter.

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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lumberjoe

2893 posts in 1708 days


#5 posted 04-05-2012 04:01 PM

Lee, that’s what I was looking for, thanks. To clarify a little:

Ply veneer is soooo thin. If there’s any kind of scratch, it can’t be repaired. – definitely a concern
Oak is a lousy surface to write on - I am a network engineer/IT manager, what is this “writing” thing you speak of :)
Oak is very busy visually. So is birdseye maple. To my eye, they don’t blend well at all. Whether one adds color or not, they won’t be color-compatible. This is kind of the point. The maple will be stained a very light color, or maybe not at all. The oak will be stained ebony

Were it mine to make, I would construct a solid top with breadboard ends—you’d get to do tongue and groove after all—and contrasting color dowel details on the breadboard ends: real ones where the end is attached, dummies where it isn’t. That isn’t something I initially considered, but I might.

My initial plan was to have the top about 1 1/2 inches thick. The top face will be wood/cabinet grade ply, and under that will be another 3/4” piece of sanded or C4 plywood banded with 3/4” maple with a roman ogee profile flush to the actual top around the front and sides, and 3/4 oak with no profile in the back. The sides of the desk will be flush with the top in the back and indented 3/4 inches from the top on the front and sides.

-- https://pinepointwoodworks.wordpress.com/

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2310 days


#6 posted 04-10-2012 04:36 AM

Hi Lumberjoe. Just a couple more observations. It sounds like you’ve got a good thing going here with some original and interesting design ideas.

Fun point—what is the front and what is the back of the desk? “I walked into the boss’s office and approached the front of the desk”.

“I walked around to the front of the desk and slid open the file drawer.”

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

The zero overhang: If that is a surface that will be pushed to the wall, it would be nice if there were overhang so the top would go flush to the wall and not be impeded by the baseboard below.

There’s certainly no structural need for the whole top to be doubled. Especially if it is solid wood, you’re needlessly complicating the construction of the top, not to mention adding a whole lot of poundage.

Onward!

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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