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Dealing with tabletop expansion

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Forum topic by snahdog posted 07-28-2014 02:06 AM 538 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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snahdog

3 posts in 54 days


07-28-2014 02:06 AM

Topic tags/keywords: table top joining question jointer

This is my first post here so I apologize in advance if I break some written or unwritten rules.

I recently got interested in making my own furniture. So far I have been honing my limited skills with small projects (benches, sides tables, etc.) working with cheap pine. I am now ready to spend a little more on better wood (I am thinking white oak or walnut) and my first project is going to be a dining room table. Here is a link to the design that I chose: http://ana-white.com/2012/11/plans/farmhouse-table-updated-pocket-hole-plans

I decided to go with this because I like the look and because it’s something that I think I could do as a novice and with the tools that I have. To practice, I build a pine bench based on a scaled down and simplified version of this table. However, I am a bit concerned about the longevity of this design, in particular about the table top and how it is attached. The project plans pretty much want me to pocket hole screw the heck out of this thing: use them to attach table top boards to each other and then use them to attach the table top to the aprons. My concern is about the effect of expansion/contraction and whether this will warp the boards. I hope that some of you can help me answer the following questions:

1. What are some alternative ways to attach the tabletop to the base that allows for some movement and are not too advanced (and do not require expensive specialized tools) for a novice?

2. Does the screwing together of the individual boards to create the table top also cause expansion/contraction issues? If yes, how can I join the boards in a way that again allows for some movement and is not too advanced?

Thanks.


8 replies so far

View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

4317 posts in 511 days


#1 posted 07-28-2014 02:39 AM

Here is what I use to anchor a table top to the aprons. You can use a biscuit cutter to make a slot or you can run a slot with the table saw before you assemble the table. These allow for wood movement.
http://www.rockler.com/table-top-fasteners

You do want to fasten the planks together. Pocket hole screws and glue is fine. I will permanently anchor the table top at the center so,that any movement will be even across the width of the table, then use the anchor clips as you go to the outer edges. The breadboard end is another story and a little more complicated. You have to allow for the main panel to move in relation to the breadboard end which is not gonna move. You could just make your table without breadboard ends.

-- Bill M. I love my job as a firefighter, but nothing gives me the satisfaction of running my hand over a project that I have built and just finished sanding.

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snahdog

3 posts in 54 days


#2 posted 07-28-2014 03:29 AM

Thank you for you response.

About the breadboards, I wouldn’t mind making the table without them if it simplifies things. Just to make sure that I understand the issue, is the problem area the fact that the breadboard longitudinal expansion would be different than the expansion of the other boards?

The fasterners look interesting. Unfortunately I don’t have a table saw or a biscuit cutter. I do have a circular saw and miter saw. Is there any way to use these so that I can make the required cut in the apron? Or are there fasteners that are more pointed on one end and would fit into drilled holes?

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10874 posts in 1345 days


#3 posted 07-29-2014 12:30 AM

Figure 8 tabletop fasteners work well and don’t require you to mill any slots. They allow for wood movement. I think I get mine at the big box store or maybe Woodcraft. Can’t remember.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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Craig W

4 posts in 53 days


#4 posted 07-29-2014 03:29 AM

I’ve built this design numerous times following those exact same plans. The major issue I had initially was the contraction of the long boards v the breadboards. When I switched to furniture grade pine, that mostly remedied the problem. It’s dried down to 9%, much like other hardwoods. Of course, you always build it without the breadboards and avoid this issue altogether.

As for joining the boards, the screws and glue are perfectly fine.

-- Austin, Texas, http://www.rusticdwelling.com

View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

4317 posts in 511 days


#5 posted 07-29-2014 03:40 AM

It would be easier without the breadboard. Wood doesn’t change noticeably along it’s length, but it can be very noticeable across the width.’ As the wood expands and contracts it needs to be able to slide along the breadboard. Like Andy said, you can use figure 8’s and all you need is a drill.

As for the other clips, you could use a router too with a slot cutting bit.

-- Bill M. I love my job as a firefighter, but nothing gives me the satisfaction of running my hand over a project that I have built and just finished sanding.

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snahdog

3 posts in 54 days


#6 posted 07-29-2014 04:02 AM

Thank you all for the advice. I will try to build it with the Figure 8 fasteners and without the breadboards.

Craig W, just out of curiosity, how well do the pine table tops hold up to abuse? I would actually prefer to build the table out of pine because it is cheaper and because I like the look of large knots, but I am worried about too many dents.

View Tony1212's profile

Tony1212

31 posts in 389 days


#7 posted 07-29-2014 02:13 PM

When I was dating my wife in college, she had a pine table in her apartment. Her roommate did her homework on the table and you could clearly read her math homework for years in that table top. I used to point out her mistakes every chance I had.

It wasn’t a cheap table either. Well, for my wife it was since she bought it second hand, but it was supposed to be a nice dining room table.

We got rid of that table before I really got into woodworking, otherwise I probably would have stripped it, sanded it down and refinished it. It was a very nice table otherwise.

If you do use pine, just make sure that there is some barrier between a pencil/pen and the table top.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View Craig W's profile

Craig W

4 posts in 53 days


#8 posted 07-29-2014 04:05 PM

The pine is soft, and like Tony said, indentations can be made with pencils. I’ve had clients who really appreciate this “feature”, and I make sure to clearly explain this to potential clients. One option to help harden the top would be to use a pre-cat finish. It’s great for clients that don’t want to spend the extra money on a hardwood but want durability.

-- Austin, Texas, http://www.rusticdwelling.com

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