A Dining Table Restoration, Part 1


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Clocking on
UKW Supporter
29 Jan 2017
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I've had the photos for this project tucked away and almost forgotten for over a year now. However on a dreary Sunday morning in these peculiar days we're living through, I thought I would have a go at putting the story together.
I had one of those phone calls from my daughter – “Daa......aad, we've bought this old oak table; could do with a bit of tidying up.....”
So, I had a look at it and realised it would be a bit more than a sanding down and refinishing. It had spent the last 20 odd years in an antique shop window used as a display stand, so suffering from an overdose of UV.
This is how it looked when I got it back in the workshop:-

The crux of the project was to get the tabletop flat again. The top consisted of 2 extending leaves each of 3 joined boards and 2 infill leaves of 2 boards each. The majority of the board glue joints were parting company and 2 had completely failed. So the first job was to remove all the boards and separate them completely.
My proposed method of flattening was to kerf slots on the underside and refill these with oak strips whilst keeping the board flat.
I surveyed each board to determine where movement had occurred and thus the required slot positions which would allow it to flex back to somewhere near flat. Here they are marked up and ready for the saw.

Here is a board on the saw, just about to receive its surgery. The blade height is set to leave about 5mm of the top surface intact:-

And here we are with 2 slots cut:-

To flatten the board I clamped it to a length of 32mm MDF. This narrowed the slot in some places so I had to fettle the slots and infill strips to get them to lie nicely for gluing. I used Cascamit for its gap filling qualities.

After going through this process for all 8 boards they were ready to glue back together again. The board edges were trued up with my No.8 and biscuits used for alignment and strength. I didn't take a shot of that stage but here we are, immediately after gluing, sanding one of the extension leaves down to a decent finish.

Here they are all sanded off with a splash of sanding sealer in one corner just to see what the final finish might look like:-

Next I had to reinstate the edge moulding, the original having been destroyed in cleaning and truing up. The original round over moulding curve was elliptical. This gives the pleasing effect of a substantial feature when viewed from above but does not penetrate down the edge too much. Fortunately our friends at Wealden were able to supply the perfect router cutter. In this shot you cane see the 'before and after':-

The last operation as far as the tabletop was concerned was refitting the cornice (if that's the right word) to the underside. This is merely to add visual substance, ie, making the table look more substantial than it really is:-
Part 2
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Established Member
24 Jul 2007
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Interesting, thanks for posting.
I've read suggestions about kerfing and gluing warped boards, but can't recall seeing a real example like this, so it's good to know that it can work.