My first attempt at a circular top table...need some pointers.

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Forum topic by ErikF posted 08-04-2012 02:23 AM 1099 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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610 posts in 2212 days

08-04-2012 02:23 AM

I am pretty new to woodworking and have decided that my next project is going to be a circular table but I am working with a limited knowledge and a limit in tool capabilities.

My plan:
I just spent some time on my table saw ripping down 8/4 birch to 2 1/4” x 47” pieces. I would have liked to have cut them wider but I am limited by the capacity of my jointer, much wide then 2 1/4” on the birch and it starts to slow down. I will joint them then run them all through the planer for uniformity before the glue-up. What I plan to do after that is build a level gluing frame, glue the boards, then use a plunge router and jig to cut the circular shape.

Right now I am most concerned with the construction of the tabletop and have a good idea of how I wil be building the base. Any and all tips are greatly appreciated!

Thanks, gents.

-- Power to the people.

4 replies so far

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2157 days

#1 posted 08-04-2012 05:02 AM

Not sure what you mean by a gluuing frame. What size is your jointer ? There is something odd if it can only joint 2.25” wide unless you are taking too heavy a cut (which is a bad idea anyhow as surface quality will suffer).

You will have a lot of joints which is unfortunate as that will make keeping the glueup flat harder. I would do such a glue up in stages so that you can keep the individual joints as close to flat as possible – using a biscuit joiner would be helpful but is not necessary with this strategy.

Pay attention to planing direction on the pieces in the glue up if you plan on running anything thru a planer after glue up. Some guys use belt sanders to flatten surfaces too big for a planer – purists use hand planes but that’s a ton of work . . .

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View ErikF's profile


610 posts in 2212 days

#2 posted 08-04-2012 11:50 AM

By gluing frame I meant that I don’t have a flat area to glue a 42” table top so I am going to build a stand to glue the piece together (I have a very small workshop so no such place exists).

I am taking about 1/16th of an inch off per pass with my jointer. It is a Ryobi bench top model that makes passing too large of pieces through difficult to keep straight. I’m not sure why it seems to struggle so much when the width gets around 3 inches…I just sharpened the blades and don’t know what the HP rating is, I purchased it used.

Last night I was thinking of how I would glue it all together and gluing in sections came to mind. If I did 11” wide sections first then I would plane them equally and struggle less with the flattening process.


-- Power to the people.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2157 days

#3 posted 08-05-2012 03:14 AM

1/16” is actually a pretty heavy cut on a jointer. I would drop that to 1/32 and see how it goes. Even less would be better, especially for your final pass. These guidelines are also applicable for passes thru a thickness planer. Light cuts means it takes longer but the results will be better.

Another thing with jointers/planers is that the knives must be set to work together, ie. you don’t want 1 knife doing more work than the others. Unless you are sure of your method, it’s probably best to get a sharpening shop to do the sharpening and then you carefully install them. If you have no manual, you can get the basics of how to set the knives off the Internet I am sure.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View MNgary's profile


298 posts in 2385 days

#4 posted 08-06-2012 10:50 PM

You likely know these tips already, but you mention being pretty new . . .
1) only joint three sides of each board, then plane the fourth (as mentioned earlier less than 1/32 inch in each pass)
2) allow addional length for sniping when planing the boards
3) for a circular table top, not all boards need to be 47” long
4) you are smart to glue the boards into 11” panels and then gluing the panels together. Trying to manage a 20 board glue up is not simple woodworking.
5) use some dowels, biscuits, or splines to help align the boards while glueing up
6) watch some YouTube videos on cutting the table top into a circle
7) alternate end grain pattern/direction to prevent the finished top from becoming a 42” cup
8) planing does not remove any warping, twisting, cupping, etc—that’s a job for the jointer
9) place adjacent boards for an eye-pleasing grain pattern on the tabletop
10) when you have completed the table you’ll have a project you can be truly proud when saying “I did this”!

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

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