Chestnut Zipper Dining Table

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29 Jan 2023
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Earlier in the year I got my hands on a 90mm thick 2.4 x 0.5m slab of chestnut ….a long return journey to Whitlsea.

Took it to my contact with a portable milling saw to get it split


Here it is after splitting and a quick run over with the belt sander

After levelling on my milling table the basic idea of a dining table appeared by reversing each slab to place the flame like grain at either end


After a trip to a mates factory with a ££££ sliding carriage table saw the slabs are down to 2400 x 1110mm with a sweeping centre ‘joint’ that lends itself to using numerous bow ties as a ‘zipper table’ .

My wife had the good idea of using different woods for the zippers …so into my offcut pile and out with the bandsaw to cut 15 3” bow ties.

Today I set up the slabs on my table to work out the spacing of the bow ties and location of the 4 40mm x 20mm x800 steel channels that will stabilise the slabs and be the joining strips.


Here are the bow ties …..spalted sycamore, sequoia, beech, walnut & yellow balau

And with the slabs turned over the position of the channels


Tomorrow it’s out with the router to cut the slots and channels for the steelwork


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That’s a large clean plank you have there, not sure if you know but I’ll say it anyway just in case, after splitting the plank down there is quite a high likelihood of the boards cupping so best put them in stick with a weight on for a few weeks till they have stabilised.
Also you will need to put slots in the metal bars to allow for movement in the table top.
Sorry if it’s telling Granny to suck eggs
That’s going to look really good btw.
Thanks Ian

The planks have been left to ‘mature’ for around two months ….ive seen/experienced issues before with cupping/twisting after surface flattening too.

Slots will be used on the channels 👍
A fine sunny day here so after 30 mins sanding/ surface treating a sequoia table I’m part way through it was time to set up the bora caterpillar table and get the chestnut planks from the garage.

I’d marked out the positions of the channels late yesterday so today was a chance to get the planks machined and the channels test fitted.

I’d recently treated myself to a 6.35mm end mill cutter for my hand held router so today was its first outing 😁

Simple setup of a strip of mdf and two clamps as a guide for the router and the first groove was cut ……wow the end mill ran through the chestnut with ease - driven by my cheap ferex handheld router - top quality tool in a cheap router gave a great finish.


And after machining
Fine day here allowed me to carry on with the table .

First job was to make a small jig for my ferex router …9mm ply and 10mm walnut offcuts to allow me a quick method of levelling off the 15 bow ties.

Jig made all bow ties were machined flat finishing off with a low angle plane

A run over with my 150mm disc sander and 1/3 sheet sander revealed a few small gaps around some of the bow ties … a quick mix of pva and chestnut sanding dust was used to fill these


Drying time was shortened in the warm sun so just before teatime I got to sand back the ‘filler’


Then a quick application of a75% white spirit/25 % tung oil mix to start the finishing process


It’s only at 80 grit so a way to go sanding wise - but looking good so far.