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Can I fill in the gaps in table surface?

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archpa

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Hi All

I have a 1920's barley twist diningroom table which is in desperate need of a makeover. As you can see in the photo it's constructed of oak with a frame and two panels. I assume the panels are oak plywood (can anybody confirm this?). There is a gap of about 2 mm between the plywood panel and the frame. See picture:

I'd like to fill in the gaps with some contrasting inlaid wood (to keep the children's milk out!). I'm concerned that this gap may be an expansion gap, and if I fill it, the plywood may warp /crack over time.

Should I have such concerns? How much could I expect the panel to change dimensions? If I can't fill it with a wood inlay, is there anything else I could fill it with which is flexible?

Many thanks

Regards

Paul
 

Jokerman

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If the table is 1920'2 you'll probably find the oak infill panels are solid wood. ,I've just knocked a large dining table apart that sounds very similar so I can re saw the wood to make some small boxes.
The frame of the table was about 1.1/2" thick x 2.1/2" wide with a groove cut around the inside edge to take the panels.

The panels are only about 1/2" thick and rebated on the underside to fit snugly in the groove and bring their top surface flush with the frame.

It seems to me you have a simple case of shrinkage 'cos there is a cross grain situation between the panels and the frame.
The end frame members can't go anywhere when they shrink 'cos they are trapped on their inner faces by the long outer frame which is going with the grain. The panels themselves will shrink over time especially in a central heated house. One suggestion, dependent on the amount of gap you've got would be to get some coloured wax stick and rub it into the gap then buff it back. At least it'll keep the milk out. To try putting fillets in could be quite difficult as they have to be bonded to at least one surface and you could end up in a mess.

If the table will knock apart without too much difficulty it may be worth doing so and taking a small amount off the tenon shoulder, but that's fiddly.

I think I'd give the wax stick a try first in a small area and see how it looks.

Have fun
Mike
 

Jokerman

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Sorry. Should have said the panels are relieved on both sides of all edges to make them fit snugly in the groove of the frame to bring them level with it.
I don't know if you could get away with infilling with a different coloured wax but unless the gap is uniform it could look odd.

Let me know what you finally come up with.

Wax sticks in a variety of shades are readily available at loads of places including your local DIY shed.

Mike
 

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