Table Design with Walnut

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Forum topic by justbeginning posted 01-02-2013 12:00 AM 1104 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 2168 days

01-02-2013 12:00 AM

I am a beginner to woodworking and would like some advice. I have some walnut that has been air cured in my barn for the past 30 years and I just pulled it out with hopes to build a dining table. The lumber is 3/4” thick and in lengths from 6 – 10’ long and 4-8” wide. I have some work to do squaring up the lumber. My plan is to build a 8ft x 40” table for 10 people.

My questions are:
1. To build the top should I try to make the boards as long as possible by joining them together along the length of the table or should I join many 40” strips together until I get my 8ft? Also any advice on the best method to join the wood would be appreciated. I am worried about expansion/contraction
2. To build the legs should I make 4×4 hollow legs, purchase some prefab legs, or is there someway else to make legs from the 3/4” lumber?
3. Will a 4” walnut apron be stout enough for the project, or what should i be thinking about in terms of table frame.

Any and all advice is much appreciated. Thanks in advance. ALso the tools I have are a kreg jig, table saw, miter saw and pretty much all the basic squaring tools, clamps, chizels, etc.. I am not opposed to purchasing any tools that might be necessary for the job. I have built some basic cabinets, shelves, lots of rough shop cabnitry, but this will be my first attempt at a project with some finess (at least I hope!!)

3 replies so far

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

4196 posts in 2431 days

#1 posted 01-02-2013 12:30 AM

1. If you’ve got enough long boards to get your 40” width, I think I’d run the grain the long way, especially if you are headed for a trestle type construction. Now if you plan to put leaves in it, you should go the other way. Leaves allow changing the size of the table, convenient later if not now. You can legitimately use wooden or metal table extension slides.
2. You could easily use hollow legs, but I would fill the places where joints occur. You could also laminate enough layers together to get the desired thickness (think weighty).
3. A 4” apron should be adequate. You could, and perhaps should, run 2 or 3 stringers the length between your end aprons, parallel to the side aprons to help with supporting the span. Sure as anything you’re gonna find a 400 lb gorilla on it someday! Consider how much food and china can fit on there, not counting elbows.

A good hand plane will be necessary for all this. Consider carefully how you are going to clamp this together. 3/4” doesn’t give you much to work with, so you’ll have to be extra accurate on that big of a top. I wouldn’t use anything less than a 1/2” x 2” x 3 1/2” tenon on the leg-apron joints, assuming apron is placed outside the center of leg, say faces offset by 1/2”. Any stretchers to help with rigidity? Then you need to carefully consider how to strongly attach the top so it can move without warping.

An ambitious project! Keep us posted using this topic or a blog. Pictures help a lot. Oh, and just which wall were you going to take out to get this into the dining room?

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL Now there's a face that would stop a clock! And seriously mess with small watches.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3048 days

#2 posted 01-02-2013 12:48 AM

jb, I’d introduce the idea of a jointer. 6” width with the longest bed you can find. You’ll never look back.

Also some good pipe clamps.

I think you’ll end up with a skirted design, rather than trestle. the 3/4 thickness just won’t look proportional to that much real estate.

Four pieces will go together nicely to give you 3” square legs, solid.

The leg to apron joints will be the only real joinery challenge, the rest is about straightlining your material and getting good, matching joints.

I, too, will be excited to learn of your progress.



-- " 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"

View Gerry's profile


264 posts in 3438 days

#3 posted 01-02-2013 01:14 AM

Welcome to the fray.. +1 on the jointer, as it will help you prep the boards for the top. Also, i found an article from Gary Rigowski a while ago giving good technique for jointing the board edges prior to glue up.
I’m looking forward to see your progress, and if I can help, don’t hesitate to email.


-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

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