wood movement

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Forum topic by wireless28806 posted 02-23-2009 03:57 PM 1335 views 1 time favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 2810 days

02-23-2009 03:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hello fellow woodworkers…

A table top for instance, say 30 inches in legnth 3/4 inch thickness… I know that wood expands and contracts, so before I start a new project I just need to know if there is any hardware I could use to help my table top with movement while attached to the skirts. How would I attach the top, while keeping it flat and tight, while still it has room to move?? Screws, a system you have invented?

Any and all info. would be greatly appreciated..

Thank You,

David Seigmyre

3 replies so far

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3011 days

#1 posted 02-23-2009 07:07 PM

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 2857 days

#2 posted 02-24-2009 03:30 PM

Kolwdwrkr, is on the right track and this is the most common industry way of keeping a solid wood in place, and it works, but I might be able to offer a better solution, that is more perhaps in the way of hand work a challenge and more time consuming, but a better result when done properly. (which is probably in industry it is not used… it costs too much). The Sliding Dovetail (actually in english, i believe the proper term is double sided dovetail sliding joint).

You basically cut a “dovetail groove” in the wood to be held straight, and then cut a piece to fit it that has a grain perpendicular to the table top.

view from below and side

jig for cutting with router

I know that the drawings are not the best but I think they are understandable, you can then screw the dovetail piece itself to the skirts sides, and the table can work back and forth with moisture all it wants it will always slide along and stay straight. The type that I drew out is visible from the one edge, you can also prevent this if you make the solid top first except the last board cut the sliding dovetail and then glue it all together, this is also a great way of doing this sort of work because you can not see from the outside how it is put together, or how its held straight from the outside.

one thing not to forget, that you need only to glue the one end that is visible (if you should ever do this method) because that way it can not work its way out and it always stays flush, the joint should be so tight that you can put the dovetail in 2/3 to 3/4 of the wan in by hand and the rest driven home with a hammer, as well as leave a 1mm gap on the ground of the dovetail (not in pic, sorry, but worth mentioning) before hammering in the joint completly, put a little white glue (pvc pva) and that is it. A good old, but superior joint for table tops.

You can not really beat it, excecpt for perhaps steel rods that are cut into pockets, which are also time intensive and must be prepared before the table top glue up is finished.

The big advantage to this method is that you can attach the metal bars inside the wood with long screws directly to the skirts, but this takes also an ability to measure out exactly (and not forgetting) where the steel bars are and you have to drill holes then after the glue up into the wood and steel, cut threads, and then also before the glue up of the skirts to the legs, the holes for the skirts must be drilled so that screws can go through them and fasten down the top…. this is the method we use in the shop for very high quality furniture

i guess it all depends on how much effort you want to put in it…

steel reinforcement1

steel reinforcement2

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

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149 posts in 2799 days

#3 posted 02-24-2009 10:18 PM

Try these little guys. They are designed specifically for this task. . Also, I have an article on table construction at if you are interested.

-- Joe.....

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