Thursday, 21 February 2013

Gluing up the dining table top

When all this incredible Walnut arrived in the shop, my Dad came over and we put the tree back together so I could match boards and get a sense of where things were at. Two boards stood out - a book matched pair that were stunning - full of curl with great color and grain. I pulled these out knowing they would end up being the table top. 

The bad news is that they were only 15" wide - not wide enough for a 2 board top. The good news - they were 8/4 rough sawn and dressed down to 7/4 so there was lots of room to get creative.

The plan was to remove at least a single 1/8" veneer off each side of each board and use 2 of those thick veneers to 'make' a middle third board. As soon as there are 3 boards involved, book matching was out and slip matching was in. The table top is 41-1/2" wide, which was perfect because it meant each board would fit through my 14" thickness planer. It also gave me a little wiggle room to straighten out the grain in the boards. With the boards cut down to 13-7/8" wide, it was time to re-saw the veneer. It took a while to get the process down, but the Y30 did a wonderful job and I ended up with 4 veneers. Thanks to my friend Anil for helping me with this. I dressed the remaining boards down to 1-1/8" thick and clamped them between cauls for several weeks to control and movement.

Before they were clamped in the cauls though, I cut a 1" strip of end grain off each end. This strip was to be used as a bake-in for the laminated core for the middle board.

The middle board is made up of a solid walnut core with the same growth ring orientation as the 1" strips. The 1" strips were then glued onto the end of the core board and then the sawn veneers glued over the whole thing. Here is a quick shot showing the edge of the core, the 1" strip and the veneer.

 The strip is 1" long because there is a radius at the end of the table and there is a profile being added to the edge. A 1" should leave at least 1/4" of the baked-in ends once all the shaping is done.

Here are the 3 boards arranged in the correct order. The laminated middle board was allowed to dry for a week. The glue cured in 24 hours, but there was an awful lot of moisture imparted from the glue and on my friend Pat’s advise, I waited until the moisture content returned to equilibrium with the outside solid boards. I have to admit, I would have never thought of this - thanks Pat. Interestingly, I put my moisture meter on the lamination after it came out of the bag and it was 15%. After a week, it was back down to 7%.

I ran the edges through my plug in jointer and then finished them with a jointing plane.

Here is the first glue-up. It felt a little less risky to do it in stages - Murphy’s law and all. 

The base is now completed including the 8 coats of varnish/oil blend.

I am realizing the limitations of my camera - I am not able to adjust for focus and most of the shots I have taken are of a very crisp shop background with some annoying dark leggy blobs in the foreground. This is one of the better shots of the base once it was all shaped, but not sanded or finished. 

Along with thanks to Pat and Anil, I want to thank my friend Terry who generously allowed me to use his vacuum veneer system to make the middle board. 

I am also working on the K9 prototype right now and am really excited about how it is coming together. I will post photos of it once it is done.



Anonymous Tim said...

Hi Konrad,

I love the base. Very sculptutal: as if straining under tension. And your solution to the table top dilemma, though very labour-intensive, is very elegant.



PS: Thank goodness for friends with veneer presses, or that centre leaf could have been even more labour-intensive.

21 February 2013 at 21:33  
Blogger Jameel Abraham said...

I like your deadman's drawers. The rest is pretty cool too.

21 February 2013 at 23:31  
Blogger ChrisHasFlair said...


Very creative idea to "clone" a third board. I'm really looking forward to seeing K9.


22 February 2013 at 02:38  
Blogger Chris Bame said...

Hi Konrad,
Nice way to get three outta two !!That is going to be an awesome looking dining table when you get her all polished up.
Would like to hear your thoughts on the vacuum press, glue ,etc.

22 February 2013 at 11:21  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Tim. Glad you like the base. We are quite pleased with it as well and are dying to see it completed and in use. Yes - friends with veneer presses is kinda like friends with trucks:)


25 February 2013 at 21:19  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hey Jameel,

I was thinking of you when I took that photo. I had a deadman on the upstairs bench and took it off in favour of using the drawers. The deadman just kept getting in the way.


25 February 2013 at 21:20  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Chris - the K9 is now done - I will post pics really soon.


25 February 2013 at 21:20  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Chris (B),

I should be planing the table top on thursday of this week and then doing the edge shaping as well. That will be the proof in the pudding so to speak to know if the third board works well or not. The edge of the top is going to be undercut slightly which will help. Fingers crossed!


25 February 2013 at 21:22  
Blogger Lee Laird said...


What a cool base shape. I wish I had your design feel/skills!

Look forward to seeing the finished table. Looks like it'll be awesome.



27 February 2013 at 00:24  

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