Table top Glue up advice please

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Forum topic by albachippie posted 09-04-2012 09:30 PM 5646 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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772 posts in 3004 days

09-04-2012 09:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: joining oak question clamp tip

First of all sorry for asking a question that has probably been answered already. Feel free to direct me to another post if you wish!

I am about to start building a dining table for a client. His design.

My question is, how to go about gluing up the top? My plan was to sort out the finished boards so they are aesthetically pleasing, biscuit the edges for ease of alignment, dry fix, then glue up in one go. I then made the mistake of searching extensively on line regarding this, and every other post contradicts the previous one! Some say alternate the grain orientation, others say to just concentrate on how the finished grain looks to the eye. Some say biscuits, others say don’t. Some say glue in one go, some say only two boards at a time. Do you understand my confusion?!

So, I am asking for tried and tested methods by jocks who have a history of doing this please!

The material is white oak, six boards wide, with a section of around 1 1/4” x 6” x 7’ long

Any help or advice would be appreciated,

Thanks in advance,


-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland

6 replies so far

View andyboy's profile


565 posts in 3242 days

#1 posted 09-04-2012 09:40 PM

Hmmmm, I love table tops. If you are good with a hand plane then shoot the edges after planing them. If not, just glue up off the planer/joint er.
I like to set the table of the jointer up a tiny fraction. I place all weight on in feed table till half way then continue on out feed. This creates a slight concave edge. Helps keeps ends of joints tight.

I like to joint all boards in the same direction too. This ensures the top stays flat if the fence is slightly out of square.
Two halves, thickness after dry then glue the two halves together so you only have 1 glue joint to clean up.
I don’t use biscuits, but I do occasionally if the top is huge. Then I only use 3.

Tightbond glue or similar, creep free. Don’t use a soft un sandable glue that creeps.

Hope some of this helps,


-- Andy Halewoodworker. You can't finish if you don't finish. So finish it, because finish is everything.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2330 days

#2 posted 09-04-2012 09:53 PM

My approach:
Layout in favor of the grain pattern;
Make sure edges join with NO gaps;
Set biscuits from the face every 15 inches for alignment;
Glue and clamp one board at a time with 20-30 minutes between;
Leave the biscuits unglued and don’t get sloppy with the glue (little or no squeezeout)

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3278 days

#3 posted 09-04-2012 10:09 PM

I always glue the boards one at a time if it is a large table and 2 or 3 at a time if a smaller table. Patience will give you time to get it perfect. I find it most important to use clamps both under the top and above the top to eliminate pulling the top in one direction with unequal pressure. I use wax paper where the clamps touch the wood to eliminate glue stains. Grain orientation is always most important to me.

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

919 posts in 2204 days

#4 posted 09-04-2012 10:31 PM

I use liquid hide glue as it does not creep. I use clamping cauls to keep it all flat. I lightly tighten the edge clamps and use a dead blow hammer to even up the board edges. Then I start tightening up on the cauls and the edge clamps until all is flat and the board edges are all but invisable.
Be careful to not over tighten the edge clamps. I did this once and had a glue starved area on one end of two boards.
Google Mike Henderson. He shows how to make clamping cauls. I would not be with out them. Remember to dry fit first!

-- Jerry

View albachippie's profile


772 posts in 3004 days

#5 posted 09-05-2012 09:22 PM

Thanks all for your input.

Andy- I really like your idea for jointing to create a slight concave. That makes sense to me. I’ve done table tops before, but not on this scale, and, the possibility of timber cupping and warping is a little unsetteling!

Clint and Greg- thanks both for your input. I would rather layout according to grain pattern too. It does bother me though that this may exaggerate the timber movement

Gerald- Thanks for the link. I never heard of cauls before. When I looked at this link, I discovered that I use them on nearly every project that I make. Just never knew that was what they were called!

-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland

View albachippie's profile


772 posts in 3004 days

#6 posted 11-08-2012 09:36 AM

Well I am finally manufacturing this table top. I will take some photos and post them as a blog or project. I got the oak yesterday. I have already dressed the faces, just got the edges to do now. I have had to go to my dads workshop because my planer just isn’t up to the job! Plus his floor standing Jet bandsaw is amazing, and his shop is heated!

Some of the grain figue is really nice, so I am going to spend a bit of time working on board orientation.

I plan on having a large board in the centre, about 200mm wide, with decreasing board widths to the edges. I’ll keep you all posted.

-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland

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