Table Making workflow/advice?

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Forum topic by bittiker posted 12-16-2012 06:38 PM 1532 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2137 days

12-16-2012 06:38 PM

Topic tags/keywords: table tabletop router sander wood coffee table dining table

long time reader – first time poster

I am planning on making a series of coffee tables and dining tables out of solid redwood slabs. Most pieces will measure 2’x4’. Largest pieces will measure 3’x6’.

Here’s how I plan to go about it, does anyone see anything in this process that they would do differently?

1. If the slab is at all warped or too rough, I’ll route it w/ a sled like this:
youtube video

2. After it’s routed flat, put it in my kiln to get it down to +/-7% moisture.
3. When it’s dry, sand through the sequence (80, 100, 120, 150, 180 and 220 grit) with a ½ sheet sander.
4. Finish w/ tung oil

My questions: 1. What’s the thinnest I could mill the slabs? I am thinking about 2.5” for the 6’ pieces, and 2” for the 4’ pieces.
2. The big pieces will be coming off an alaskan chainsaw mill, so pretty rough. Is it possible that I could remove the roughness with a half-sheet sander alone?

Any tips or comments are really appreciated! Thanks, Danny

-- Learning more and more...

12 replies so far

View oluf's profile


260 posts in 3188 days

#1 posted 12-17-2012 01:55 AM

The only thing that would make your plan work is luck. Thare are two kinds of luck. Good and bad and it could go eather way. Your first question should be how do I construct the table so that the top will stay flat if I am luckey enough to get it flat to start with. I think you need to get all of your lumber into your kiln properly stickerd and fully dry it before you do any machining on it.

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

View Woodknack's profile


12372 posts in 2529 days

#2 posted 12-17-2012 05:44 AM

He’s right, step 1 is kiln drying. Step 2 is cutting pieces near their final size then letting them stabilize for a day or two, 3 is machining to final size, 4 is assembly, 5 is finishing.

To answer the last 2 questions…
1. I don’t have a definitive answer and I’m not sure there is one.
2. Possible yes but it’s not practical unless you have an infinite amount of sandpaper, time and patience.

While router sleds work well, a scrub (or fore) plane would be faster.

-- Rick M,

View pintodeluxe's profile


5758 posts in 2962 days

#3 posted 12-17-2012 05:56 AM

Step 1. Mill lumber 2 -1/2” thick.
Step 2. Wait 2-3 years while the lumber air dries.
Step 3. Kiln dry.
Step 4. Flatten with router sled.

Flattening rough sawn lumber with a sander would be the definition of aggravation.
Good luck with the projects.

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

View bittiker's profile


4 posts in 2137 days

#4 posted 12-17-2012 07:56 PM

Thanks guys, I’ll dry the wood first. I don’t have the time to air dry much before kiln-drying. Will it be more prone to cracking if it goes straight from the mill to the kiln?

Also, I don’t have much experience with a fore plane, and I’ve heard the learning curve is steep so I’m planning on going ahead with the router route, no pun intended

-- Learning more and more...

View Woodknack's profile


12372 posts in 2529 days

#5 posted 12-18-2012 12:19 AM

It takes less time to figure out a fore plane than to construct a router sled. It’s simple but more physical.

-- Rick M,

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 2785 days

#6 posted 12-18-2012 01:19 AM

If you are planning on doing a lot of these, you may want to consider investing in a ROS. They work much quicker then a 1/4 sheet sander and are a hell of a lot easier to change sandpaper. The pads are more expensive but you will make your life much easier.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18969 posts in 2717 days

#7 posted 12-18-2012 01:31 AM

Dry first.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View MNgary's profile


303 posts in 2566 days

#8 posted 12-18-2012 02:20 AM

Gosh, bittiker, it would help us if we knew more about what the finished design is you want to achieve—is this a one-off set vs a production of two or three dozen pieces of each for catalogue or retail sales, for indoor vs outdoor use, are you looking for advice on creating fine-art furniture or maybe replicating folk-art or perhaps simple rustic, what is the goal of your set-up, will controlled warp and splitting that adds to your design be desired, etcetera.

Your query is leaving much to the assumptions of responders.

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

View runswithscissors's profile


2846 posts in 2174 days

#9 posted 12-18-2012 06:00 AM

If you decide to do the router sled method, you might look at Grizzly’s dish cutter router bit. It makes a flat bottom, but is slightly radiused at the corners so it doesn’t leave grooves or ridges. I have used that method, by the way, and slight ridges were a problem with an ordinary straight bit.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View bittiker's profile


4 posts in 2137 days

#10 posted 12-18-2012 09:54 PM

MNgary- I’m going for a very simple contemporary look. I’ll be selling these tables on the cheap, so volume is important. The design is a slab atop black steel legs. My goal is to launch with about 30 pieces of furniture. Splitting and warping (i didn’t know controlled warping was a thing…) won’t be desirable, but I’ll stick in a butterfly joint if splitting happens. Does that give you more info to work with?

runswithscissors – I looked into getting a #7 plane, and was shocked to see the price. Maybe down the road I’ll get one, but for now Im going to go ahead with the router method. I’ll use the grizzly bit that you suggest. Does this method wear on the router a lot? i.e. is there a minimum router horsepower?


-- Learning more and more...

View Woodknack's profile


12372 posts in 2529 days

#11 posted 12-18-2012 11:04 PM

For production I would look into a drum sander.

-- Rick M,

View AandCstyle's profile


3165 posts in 2406 days

#12 posted 12-19-2012 03:33 AM

For something that size and rough, I would strongly suggest a stroke sander. FWIW

-- Art

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