Table top advice

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Forum topic by VillageWood posted 07-20-2009 05:06 PM 1064 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View VillageWood's profile


44 posts in 3495 days

07-20-2009 05:06 PM

I am designing an end table from scratch. I have found a gorgeous piece of maple for the top and think it would be a sin to rip it and glue it up into a panel for the sake of stability. Is there a good way of making a one piece solid top? If so are there size limitations? This top will be a finished size of 18” x 18”. But I also have a plan for a hall table with a top 12” x 48”.

This may have been covered elsewhere so links would be appreciatedas well.

Many thanks


8 replies so far

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3943 days

#1 posted 07-20-2009 05:41 PM

i dont see any problem with a piece like that. some ideas are either to use a breadboard end or also to put a few battens on the bottom to hold it. also make sure to finish both sides equally!!!!!!!!!!!!!

View Tony's profile


986 posts in 4205 days

#2 posted 07-20-2009 06:14 PM

It really depends upon the board and the stability of the board. Rough dimension the board to size, leaving a half inch wider and an inch longer than the required final dimension, as for the thickness, flatten it on both sides and leave it a good 1/8” to a 1/4” thicker than required if possible.

Now comes the hard part: place some sticks under and on top of it, then add some weight (mechanics tool box is good) and leave it for a month or more.

When you come back to it, if it is still flat you should be OK to proceed to the final dimensions. If it has started to cup, even a little, then carefully rip it down the middle and glue it (you will only loose an 1/8” or less) back together, then surface plane it again to the final dimensions carefully taking of equal amounts of wood from top and bottom surfaces. (sometimes I repeat this process 2 or 3 times depending upong the wood being used)

Ensure that when you fix it to the frame it well supported on all sides so it will not cup again (but can move width-ways for seasonal changes)

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View commajockey's profile


16 posts in 3455 days

#3 posted 07-20-2009 07:02 PM

I made our dining table out of solid 1 1/2-inch-thick maple. 7 feet long, 40 inches wide (or so). I was very worried about cupping as well, so I did three things:
1. Let it acclimate for a good while during flattening (as Tony above wisely recommends).
2. Finished top and bottom.
3. I let it move – but only laterally.

When attaching it to the trestle base, on one side I used the figure-8 fasteners, but I worried those alone wouldn’t allow for the maximum movement. So on the opposite side I built a sliding dovetail key and trimmed it to fit the slot exactly. The top can’t move vertically without breaking the 3-inch thick maple base. But it has plenty of lateral breathing room if it wants it.
I’ve had the table in my dining room for over three years now with zero cupping or warping (although I have noted significant seasonal movement in the dovetail keys). Best of all, I have a cool little feature to show off on the under side of the table when a fellow woodworker stops by. ;-)
You may not choose this method, but it’s a nice alternative to breadboard ends and battens

-- Anything worth doing is worth redoing several times.

View a1Jim's profile


117276 posts in 3752 days

#4 posted 07-20-2009 07:13 PM

It will depend on is the wood dry enough to use 8-10% is it flat sawn or 1/4 sawn and how you connect it to the rest of the table.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3700 days

#5 posted 07-20-2009 08:30 PM

I will also add that you should let the top acclimate in the house that it will end up in. This way it will move as little as possible after it’s finished.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View VillageWood's profile


44 posts in 3495 days

#6 posted 07-21-2009 02:40 AM

Follow-up question then, would you do the same for a bookmatched table top?
Thanks for all the great answers.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18380 posts in 3851 days

#7 posted 07-21-2009 04:43 AM

Tony, When you add the weight, are you putting it on the span between the the sticks trying to induce some stress to see what happens?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4060 days

#8 posted 07-21-2009 05:54 AM

make sure to finish both sides equally

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

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