Crappy joints on purpose - how to?

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Forum topic by lumberjoe posted 543 days ago 1091 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2829 posts in 874 days

543 days ago

My wife wants a farmhouse style table for our dining room. I plan on making the table and benches out of walnut. The only thing I can’t really figure out is how to keep the laminated top looking like separate boards.

Is this just stickered underneath like a picnic table with a tiny gap (dollar bill) between the boards? I was thinking of maybe cutting a very slight chamfer in all of the edges pre-glue up but I ‘m not sure that would look right


22 replies so far

View Tennessee's profile


1447 posts in 1141 days

#1 posted 543 days ago

Years and years ago I went through almost the exact same thing – build me a dining room table with the planks slightly seperated, maybe a little taper on every edge.
I built it, and yes, I used cross planks underneath and doweled the top planks to the cross planks, barn door style.

And after about a year or two?

All I heard was:
“Get rid of this dumb thing, I am sick and tired of cleaning spilled food out of these cracks!”

Looks great if you can keep it clean…lesson learned.

-- Paul, Tennessee,

View lumberjoe's profile


2829 posts in 874 days

#2 posted 543 days ago

Good tip (and ammo). I like the overall style – chunky and square with huge breadboard ends, I do not like the plank look. Every bone in my body wants to make seamless joints. I’ll raise that issue and see if it gets me anywhere


View Don W's profile

Don W

14836 posts in 1194 days

#3 posted 543 days ago

you can use a v-grooved t&g. Use a very slight v which gives the appearance of separation and helps eliminate the issue Paul speaks of.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View lumberjoe's profile


2829 posts in 874 days

#4 posted 543 days ago

I thought about that too Don, but it may look too “on purpose”. I’ll try it out on some scraps and see what it looks like.


View Loren's profile


7393 posts in 2274 days

#5 posted 543 days ago

That example in the picture looks like the boards on top
are nailed to a substrate.

If you glue it up and use breadboard ends you have to
account for wood movement.


View Don W's profile

Don W

14836 posts in 1194 days

#6 posted 543 days ago

your other option is a ship lap, but then you have the original “food in the crack” issue”.

My table has a crack like a separate board, and my wife doesn’t complain, but the crack is more like 1/16”

Click for details

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View levan's profile


405 posts in 1606 days

#7 posted 543 days ago

Have you considered gluing a 1/8” or 1/4” strips of a different wood between the planks. You could have the look with out the cracks.

-- Lynn "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View Dallas's profile


2866 posts in 1113 days

#8 posted 543 days ago

Joe, 30 years ago a friend and I worked as carpenters at a large apartment complex in Atlanta. The super wanted some tables for outside use that looked “Rustic”, “Elegant” “Not Picnic tablish”, and easily cleaned.

We got pine 2×12’s, planed them (by hand with crappy planes), and cut bread board ends using 2×6’s with M&T joints.
The boards were nailed to cross boards for support using cut nails to give it a rustic look. the spaces between the top boards were spaced with a nail as a spacer then routed with a 1/4” bit 1/2” deep. The spacers removed and the boards shoved together.

finish was some combination of extra cans of stain that turned nearly black, top coats were Spar Urethane Varnish.
Those tables sat on public patios for about 5 years and still looked good. they eventually got used for other things after remodeling but were in good shape

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13738 posts in 964 days

#9 posted 543 days ago

I am still learning how to do joints. So if you want crappy joints I will come do them for you :-)

I do hate leaving the gap.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View RRBOU's profile


60 posts in 918 days

#10 posted 543 days ago

When I was in High school I made a table just like that and what I did was chamfer the edges with a chamfer bit then use a sharpie to black the bottom to resemble a 1/16 gap. Then after gluing them up I filled the chamfer in with clear epoxy and then finished. The result was the visual effect of the rustic planks with a continuous smooth surface with no gaps to collect debris.

-- If guns cause crime all of mine are defective Randy

View chrisstef's profile


10647 posts in 1632 days

#11 posted 543 days ago

Hand plane the v groove bevel for that “not machined” look and ship lap em like Don says. Depending on your finishing schedule the freshly planed bevels will take a little different than a sanded top.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View pintodeluxe's profile


3321 posts in 1439 days

#12 posted 543 days ago

Just plumb an air compresser line by the dining table to blow out the salt and crumbs.

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

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 1595 days

#13 posted 542 days ago

Notice how that breadboard end is pegged, so that when the timbers shrink, the gap opens up. I have made a couple of tables like this, tongue and groove, the t&g planks are not glued together, the breadboard end is glued at the outside edges and centre. Prefinish the tongues before putting it all together, so you don’t end up with an unfinished line between planks when they shrink.

View Sodabowski's profile


2002 posts in 1459 days

#14 posted 542 days ago

My two pence: make it out of pallet wood and stain it ;)

-- Holy scrap Barkman!

View lumberjoe's profile


2829 posts in 874 days

#15 posted 542 days ago

I don’t allow pallet wood in the house. I know a lot of people use it but that stuff is nasty.

Renners, that sounds perfect and the way to go. So if I understand you correctly, just T&G the all the boards, leave them loose (no glue/stickers) and breadboard the ends. Should I peg each board, or every other board since the outermost and the center will have some glue?


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