Making a wooden slab from 3 pices

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by ShropshireRay posted 02-18-2013 11:51 AM 7907 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ShropshireRay's profile


3 posts in 3784 days

02-18-2013 11:51 AM

Topic tags/keywords: table top oak

Hello all,

After joining some years ago, this is my first post and I’m after help so I’ hope you’ll forgive my selfishness.

I have 3 slabs of oak measuring 22” long, 8” wide, and 1 and 1/8” thick. I have been asked to join them into a solid slab and then cut the biggest circle that I can from that slab. I’m not sure of the best way to do this, eg can I simply join them together using dowel rods and glue (I don’t have a biscuit jointer). Would it be better cutting them into smaller strips before joining them together to give additional strength or is this unnecessary? The finished article will be used as a table top used outdoors.

Any help or advice would be appreciated.



-- Ray

13 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)


15367 posts in 2640 days

#1 posted 02-18-2013 12:33 PM

Ray- Yes, properly jointed edges can be glued together for a very strong joint. Biscuits and dowels are alignment tricks that don’t add significant strength to such joints; tests that I’ve read through show wood fails before modern glues.

That the table is oak and will be used outdoors is interesting. Wood moves, and these three pieces will too. How long will the table last as a solid top? My guess is, ‘not long,’ but there are lots of variables there and your task is to glue them up. Good luck with your glue up, and I’ll watch along with you for more answers. Glad you’ve jumped back into LJs after your long haitus! I’d not remember a pwd after that long. :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Marcus's profile


1163 posts in 2042 days

#2 posted 02-18-2013 02:10 PM

I’ll echo what both of these guys said already. I used to do my glue ups with no dowels or biscuits, and they held great. I got a biscuit joiner and it made life CONSIDERABLY easier, but it’s not necessary. I also have a dowel jig but never use it for edge glue ups…seems like its more trouble than its worth.

I would also be a bit concerned with that wide of oak outdoors, but I live in a climate with some pretty severe climat changes.

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 2382 days

#3 posted 02-18-2013 02:20 PM

there are tons of videos on the web (youtube) that show how to get flat panel glue ups using clamps and home made cauls – flat pieces of wood clamped to the top and bottom to help keep the glue up flat.

. I’ll echo everyone else, you don’t necessarily need another tool, might make it easier – always fun to get a new tool – but not necessary. The important thing is to make sure you have properly jointed edges, and the pieces you are gluing together are as close to flat/the same thickness as you can possibly achieve.

Also – don’t use too much pressure when clamping – excessive pressure from the clamps can cause twist in the glue up that you will have to fix later. Dry test your glue up before you ever put a drop of glue on it – clamps and all – if you see a gap between the boards you are not properly jointed – applying excessive force to close gaps will lead to a twisted piece.

Another tip – when you make your cauls make them slightly thinner than the thickness of your work piece – E.G. If the work piece (glue ups) are 2” make your cauls 1 3/4 – 1 7/8”. This will help direct all of your clamping pressure to the edges of the work piece laterally and help prevent the clamping pressure from pushing up and in. Fine woodworking recently published an article about making panel doors that stay true and flat – might be worthwhile read (it was in the most recent issue I think)

-- Steve

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 2382 days

#4 posted 02-18-2013 02:23 PM

P.S. Just re-read your post – it might be beneficial to rip them into thinner strips and re-glue – laminated panels like this are more stable than solid wood – prone to less movement. But, you will get more glue lines in your final piece – if it is supposed to look like one solid slab top this might not work for you.

You may want to also consider alternating the growth rings on the ends of the boards as you glue them up.

E.G. If the growth rings on one board point down, the next should point up, etc. This is supposed to allow the wood to move evenly.

Good luck!

-- Steve

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3415 days

#5 posted 02-18-2013 03:06 PM

do not cut them in smaller pieces, the real beauty of any table top is about how close it’s made from a single piece of wood. Yo dont need a biscuit jointer. You can use dowels (A jig can be made from an small piece of hardwood) OR if you have acces to a table saw, just make 1/4 ~ 3/8” splines from the same wood.

Place clamps alternativelly in both sides as much clamps as you can.

Depending the kind of cut you got, Make sure the boards are placed as follow:

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3307 days

#6 posted 02-18-2013 05:02 PM


I’ll just repeat some of what has already been stated; Make sure you have really good jointed edges to start with. If you have to force a joint together, then it’s not a good edge.

Alternate your clamps and use clamping cauls.

Make sure you use a glue for exterior use.

Biscuits or dowels should not be necessary if you have a good glue joint, besides if you are cutting a circle, you better know exactly where the biscuits or dowels are or you can cut thru one when cutting your circle.
(don’t ask me how I know)

I would also make sure the weather is warm or you have a good heated shop to allow the glue to cure properly. Glue does not cure well in cold weather.

-- John @

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3356 days

#7 posted 02-18-2013 05:05 PM

Dowels/biscuits are normally used for alignment purposes to hold them level with each other under glue-up. If you are a novice woodworker you might not find it so easy getting the dowels and matching holes aligned properly. Bisquits are easier if you have a machine for it. You might find it difficult to joint the edges for gluing in the first place. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not so easy for a beginner either. Do you know any experienced woodworkers who could help you do it?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2383 days

#8 posted 02-18-2013 05:11 PM

You don’t need no stinkin’ biscuits, dowels, splines, or anything else. Just glue them together, edge to edge, though it would help if there were no gaps in the joints. Don’t over clamp, and the glue joint will be stronger than the wood.

-- 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 Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29381 posts in 2360 days

#9 posted 02-18-2013 07:01 PM

I’ll agree with a lot of what’s been said already. I use a biscuit jointer and I would be afraid that outdoors the joint would pull apart. Maybe instead of gluing them use bowties to hold them together. Just make it part of the design.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View TimberFramerBob's profile


68 posts in 1945 days

#10 posted 02-18-2013 07:15 PM

Ray, I didnt read all the previous posts so forgive me if i repeat anything. Good edges that mate well and no over clamping. Being an outdoor table I personally would rip your pieces down (put them back together so the grain still matches) into smaller (than 8”) pieces. This is because I would be worried about cupping of such large pieces from natural movement but especially when it gets wet… wont stay flat.

-- ..........a man who works with his hands, his brains, and his an artist.

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 1983 days

#11 posted 02-18-2013 07:29 PM

Others have mentioned the glue up and expressed doubt about it lasting outside. Of course it won’t last forever but you could put a thick layer of clear epoxy or many coats of polyurethane coating on it to help it last. Make sure to look for something with UV protectant, which you’ll need even if it isn’t in direct sunlight. If you want the more natural look go with more natural finishes, but it will take more upkeep and/or won’t last as long.

Personally with those pieces I’d cut an oval (use two pins and a string to mark it) but you could make two circles which may be your plan.

View RogerInColorado's profile


321 posts in 1976 days

#12 posted 02-18-2013 11:03 PM

White Oak outside with a good finish and you keep track of it and refinish it when it needs it, you’ll probably be happy. Red Oak, not so much. Has to do with the pores of the wood. There are better woods for outdoor projects.

View Nighthawk's profile


556 posts in 2379 days

#13 posted 02-19-2013 12:25 AM

I would go tounge and groove

-- Rome wasn't built in a day... but I wasn't on that job? ...

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics