Large Pine Table Top

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Forum topic by Joel J posted 06-12-2014 03:51 AM 1482 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Joel J

48 posts in 1939 days

06-12-2014 03:51 AM

Topic tags/keywords: table top glue up joining boards

An old college friend had a bunch of 75 year old pines cut down on his farm in central Kansas about three years ago and had them rought cut into 1 3/4” slabs. He then stacked them in a shed on the farm. He has asked me to build a “farm style” dining table with a top measuring 42” x 96”. Some of these rough cut boards have useable material that is 12” wide. Most of the boards have a slight twist to them as they were not stacked properly when drying. Most of these boards are 9-11’ long. My questions are as follows:.

1. Should I, when gluing up the top cut the boards down to say 6” wide, flipping the ring pattern in alternating boards? Will this keep the top from warping/cupping over time?

2. I plan to “cap” each end with a 6-8” board perpendicular to all the boards I glue up in the middle of the top. Should I use biscuits or some other means to “connect” each board when gluing up?

3. Before I plane these down to 6/4, should I level one side much like guys do when “leveling” a slab? If so, can I do this with my planer on a sled or do I need to build a router jig such as in Fine Woodworking #222?

4. Any other ideas that would make this top a “better product”?

Thank you for all the help….. I really enjoy and respect all the knowledge on this site!

EDIT: Here is a drawing for a possible layout for the table top and might help explain the “bread board” layout

-- Joel, Denver, CO

6 replies so far

View cdaniels's profile


1320 posts in 1502 days

#1 posted 06-12-2014 05:00 AM

it is my experience when doing table tops like that you should use biscuits to help with the glue up. as far as grain orientation you can go a couple ways. maybe start with a 12” wide board in the middle then each board next to it can be an inch slimmer all the way until you get down to 6” wide boards? I like that sort of look though. when you put the ends on the table you should allow enough room for the boards to move over time without splitting or twisting, kind of like how you allow just a smidgeon of room extra in a mortise and tenon joint. I haven’t seen many bread board tables like that in old houses but maybe yout could surround the whole thing with boards of the same width and cut them at 45’s to creat sort of a picture frame effect. For planing it down it’s my honest opinion that a good old fashioned hand plane does the job way better than a machine. eliminates sanding and you just can’t beat the smoothness. I use veritas hand planes and love them to death. Just a couple of my thoughts, love to see the finished product. Good luck

Iron Sides

-- Jesus was a carpenter... I'm just saying

View bondogaposis's profile


4733 posts in 2352 days

#2 posted 06-12-2014 12:31 PM

1. If any of the boards have pith, remove that. I would also look for the possibility of finding as many quarter sawn or rift sawn boards and using those, that will eliminate cupping.

2. I’m having trouble visualizing what you are planning to do here, Capping the ends in the middle ???

3. You definitely need to level one side to remove the twist before you plane to final thickness. Lots of ways to accomplish this. Handplane is the way I do it.

4. In your construction allow for wood movement, on a table 42” wide, it will be considerable.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1869 days

#3 posted 06-12-2014 12:45 PM

2) capping the ends. This is called a bread board. Do not glue it. A little glue at each end, and in the middle is okay, but if you try to just glue a board to the end, it will fail due to wood movement.

Here is one example of proper breadboard installation. This is a bit fancy, so don’t kept it intimidate you. It’s easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Notice the elongated holes for the dowels in the tenon of the top. This is to allow the top to expand and contract. Don’t allow for this, and your top will crack, or split your breadboard.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View j_dubb's profile


196 posts in 1809 days

#4 posted 06-12-2014 12:49 PM

Mmmm elongated holes.

-- Josh // "If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." - Jack Handey

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2961 days

#5 posted 06-12-2014 07:31 PM

I suppose you use an elongated drill bit? ;) Some good info here. Thanks to all.

View bruc101's profile


1200 posts in 3542 days

#6 posted 06-15-2014 04:46 AM

I’m doing a table top now for a friend out of Walnut that was cut 20 years ago. The size will be 42 inches wide and 8 feet long oval shape.

When he brought me the boards I told him he had to be playing a joke on me or either he was smoking some bad weed. Five boards 10 feet long and about 2 1/4 inches thick and had to look like what a drunk would be seeing on these mountain roads after midnight they were so twisted and cupped.

We’ve got three of the boards flat and they averaged out at about an inch thick after taking the twist and cup out of them.

He’s a retired attorney making an awesome living now doing hand rails, fencing and table legs and bases out of Laurel. He’s going to make the legs and frame out of Laurel for this table.

This is going to be interesting when this walnut top wants to move one way and all the Laurel wants to move in 10 more directions.

I told his wife her meals on the table will probably always be on the move.

I’ll post pictured when they get it in their dining room.

-- Bruce Free Plans

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