Bowing table top...what to do?

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Forum topic by groland posted 808 days ago 1233 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View groland's profile


117 posts in 2039 days

808 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: bowed table top

I am working on my first table top. I decided to start small with a small end table with a top about 14×17” made of three pieces of cherry. I got the three boards jointed (alternating end grain rings) and edge-glued nicely and it was flat, smooth and ready for final sanding and finishing. I was so happy!

Then, I left it in my workshop for a couple days, and when I went in last night the whole top had a slight curve in it, about 1/16-3/32 high. What might have caused this?

I do not have a wide drum sander or thickness planer wide enough to take the whole top, so I’m going to have to hand plane it flat (again). I am confident I can do this, but I am now worried that it will bow again.

Is there a method to stop this?

Is it good practice to plane the top flat, finish sand it and get the finish on immediately to “stabilize” the top? I’m just not sure what the best practice is.



5 replies so far

View rhett's profile


697 posts in 2294 days

#1 posted 808 days ago

Put it on a flat surface and put some weight on it while you fiinish building the rest of the table. Whatever bow is left can be pulled down with fasteners when you attach it to your apron.


View rockindavan's profile


283 posts in 1263 days

#2 posted 808 days ago

I would clamp it flat while working on other parts. Im working on a curly maple top that is 24” wide and currently has a 3/16 bow. I clamp it flat and it remains that way for about a day, then starts to bow again. Like rhett said, once you attach it to the base it should stay flat.

View groland's profile


117 posts in 2039 days

#3 posted 807 days ago

Okay, Thanks guys. I have it clamped flat and will see where I am after I make the cleats to hold the top on and finish the base.



View pintodeluxe's profile


3322 posts in 1440 days

#4 posted 807 days ago

This is actually no big deal. When you screw the top to the table frame with figure 8 fasteners, the curve will flatten right out. Don’t bother planing or sanding it again.
The fact that the panel was flat to begin with tells me your jointer setup is square.

Kiln dried, quartersawn lumber is usually the most stable. With cherry, quartersawn stock is usually not an option.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Kelby's profile


133 posts in 1038 days

#5 posted 807 days ago

While the fasteners will probably do the trick, another traditional solution is to use breadboard ends. They have the added advantage of being attractive and hiding the endgrain.

-- Kelby

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