Beginner Needs Help with Coffee Table Project

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Forum topic by DougM86 posted 06-23-2014 11:41 PM 1163 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 1431 days

06-23-2014 11:41 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cherry

Hi everyone. I need some help with a coffee table that I am making. I am new to this as this is only my second table I have made.

I am making a round coffee table out of 4 1X10 planks of cherry. The idea is to have it look like one piece of wood. I got really solid butt joints with glue and it was looking pretty good. I got the circle cut with no problems.

The next day I went out and it was all warped and not sitting straight on the table in garage. Not sure how to fix the problem or make sure this doesn’t happen in the future.

Any help would be great and thanks in advance.

10 replies so far

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1678 days

#1 posted 06-23-2014 11:48 PM

Wood has tension and moister content buried inside it that can cause it to warp whenever you cut away material. The more material you cut away the more bizarre kinds of occurrences you can get like what you saw. Really your only option is flatten the top to get rid of what is probably twist.

As to avoiding it. Dry wood helps a lot and I like to cut my pieces as close to the final dimensions as possible before glueing them together and give them time to acclimate to my shop that way there is very little left to remove afterwards. I know with circles that’s not always possible in which case you need to just plan to do some flattening afterwards.

View DougM86's profile


7 posts in 1431 days

#2 posted 06-24-2014 12:48 AM

Thanks for the advice. This might be a silly question, but, how would I go about flattening it? I wanted to keep it about 1 inch thick.

View AandCstyle's profile


3052 posts in 2255 days

#3 posted 06-24-2014 01:00 AM

It sounds like the cherry hadn’t acclimated to the ambient humidity in your shop. Then when you left on a table in the shop, moisture vacated the exposed side and didn’t on the underside. This caused the fibers on top to contract due to moisture loss and contract. As they contracted, they pulled your top out of flat. It you had left the top on edge you might have been okay if you removed about the same amount of stock from both sides before gluing. To avoid this in the future, store “dry” stock in your shop for 2-3 weeks until it reaches equilibrium. This can be determined with a moisture meter.

You can try to flatten your top by a number of methods, but all of them will attempt to add moisture to the concave side and not to the convex side. One such is to put the top outdoors on the ground with the convex side up. The sun will remove water from the convex side and the ground will add water to the concave side, HOPEFULLY, bringing them into equilibrium and therefore flat. Another option is to iron the concave side with a steam iron through a damp towel. The heat and moisture will help the wood to “relax” to flat, then clamp the top flat for several days. HTH

-- Art

View pintodeluxe's profile


5658 posts in 2811 days

#4 posted 06-24-2014 01:43 AM

Mildly warped tops can be pulled down to the table framework with figure 8 tabletop fasteners. Cherry is usually flatsawn, and more prone to warping than quartersawn lumber. Wide planks tend to accentuate the problem. You can alternate the growth rings to minimize warping panels.

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

View bondogaposis's profile


4727 posts in 2349 days

#5 posted 06-24-2014 01:53 AM

I agree w/ pintod, you can pull most of the warp out when you attach it to the legs, if you use buttons or figure eights.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View DougM86's profile


7 posts in 1431 days

#6 posted 06-24-2014 09:56 PM

Thanks for all the help.

What is the benefit of using figure eights vs pocket screws?

View jerryminer's profile


923 posts in 1439 days

#7 posted 06-26-2014 04:31 AM

figure eights, tabletop fasteners, or buttons allow the top to expand/contract while remaining tightly attached to the apron. Pocket screws don’t allow this expansion/contraction, so are more likely to cause the top to crack.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View RogerM's profile


792 posts in 2397 days

#8 posted 06-27-2014 01:51 PM

Try cutting some stopped saw kerfs on the underside of the table top (without cutting through the top or ends). I would consider cutting these kerfs about 3/4 of the way through and one to two inches apart. Place the top back on the base and draw it down.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View EricBosloor's profile


13 posts in 1945 days

#9 posted 06-29-2014 04:26 PM

I think it is the humidity level inside your garage. This is because in such an enclosed area like a storage shed, moisture levels are usually high without much room to escape. Therefore, they will usually “thrive” in furniture pieces that absorb a relatively good amount of moisture, and that is usually wood. That is why in such places, I would avoid cherry or any other wood that has considerably high moisture content. To remove/flatten the planks would be additional job but I guess that is the only way out for now since everything is almost complete and wasting effort is unnecessary.

-- Eric Bosloor :

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2673 days

#10 posted 06-29-2014 08:24 PM

I had stored wood in my shop for about 6 months when I used it. Some of the large flat pieces for my project warped and some didn’t. It is a crap shoot. I ended up attaching some boards to the back side to hold it. That did work in my case. I have used the alternating grain method and it works fairly well.

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