Dining tabletop board selection

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tibi

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Hello,

my next project will be an oak dining table for our kitchen. The dimensions will be 1100x700 mm (width might increase a bit based on board selection). I have many oak boards and I need to select some of them for the tabletop.

I could make the width of the tabletop with just 3 boards (280 mm,240 mm, and 240 mm). I assume the thickness could be 22-25 mm from those boards. But I am afraid that they are too wide and I would first need to remove a lot more material (so the resulting board will be much thinner) and second they will warp more than narrower boards. Should I use those 3 boards or, shall I use five 140 mm boards instead?

I have read some other forums on the topic, but there are almost as many opinions as ones on the topic of sharpening. Some say that there is a maximum width (as little as 3 inches or as much as 6 inches) of the boards and I should not use any wider boards and some say that they use as wide boards as possible, as long as they are properly dried.

The second question is if the boards must be of equal width or can I combine boards of various widths?

Third question is about the growth ring orientation. Some say I must alternate the boards, and other says that I should look on the aesthetics and it will not help much to alternate the orientation to prevent cupping.

Thank you.
 
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Hello,

my next project will be an oak dining table for our kitchen. The dimensions will be 110x70 cm (width might increase a bit based on board selection). I have many oak boards and I need to select some of them for the tabletop.

I could make the width of the tabletop with just 3 boards (28 mm,24 mm, and 24 mm). But I am afraid that they are too wide and I would first need to remove a lot more material (so the resulting board will be much thinner) and second they will warp more than narrower boards. Should I use those 3 boards or, shall I use five 14 cm boards instead?

I have read some other forums on the topic, but there are almost as many opinions as ones on the topic of sharpening. Some say that there is a maximum width (as little as 3 inches or as much as 6 inches) of the boards and I should not use any wider boards and some say that they use as wide boards as possible, as long as they are properly dried.

The second question is if the boards must be of equal width or can I combine boards of various widths?

Third question is about the growth ring orientation. Some say I must alternate the boards, and other says that I should look on the aesthetics and it will not help much to alternate the orientation to prevent cupping.

Thank you.
I've have an oak drop-leaf table with boards 22mm thick with various widths from about 300 to 120mm.
They are glued , tongue and grooved, together. Seems to be nice and flat (enough)!
Not particularly quarter cut or alternating grain.
In other words if your material is dry enough you should be OK with any combination of sizes.
But if in doubt maybe you should select the narrowest. 'Alternating grain' is a bit theoretical but could help.
PS are you mixing up your units; cm to mm? In UK we don't use cm its all either mm or metres.
Appearance not much of an issue with oak, anything goes, unless you have quarter-cut figured stuff, which can look good.
PPS forgot to say - the board fixing is important to allow for movement - you need "buttons" in slots if it's a conventional design
 
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I'd probably use the boards first mentioned. And plane them straight, hopefully to end up about 18 - 22mm thick. I feel that the 14mm thick ones are too thin.

Then I'd lay them out experimentally, flipping ech over in turn, to see in what order they should lie and how the grain pattern looks best.

I would hope that the wood is dry to be in a rough equilibrium with the air in the house, and that its moisture content has had time to settle to an even condition throughout each board. Then I wouldn't worry about rings and cupping.
 
If you want the top to stay flat I think the most important things are

Choosing boards that are quarter sawn or as close as you have.

Letting the boards acclimatise in the room the table will be in for as long as possible.

When machining the wood remove equal amounts off each side.

Whatever you finish the top with give it equal coats on the top and bottom.

I think the rest is down to how you want it to look, to me grain matching is more important than alternating boards and I prefer different width boards to having them all the same size but that is personal preference. If you prefer a flame type grain and don't want to see the rays go for flat sawn boards but they have more chance of moving.
 
I've have an oak drop-leaf table with boards 22mm thick with various widths from about 300 to 120mm.
They are glued , tongue and grooved, together. Seems to be nice and flat (enough)!
Not particularly quarter cut or alternating grain.
In other words if your material is dry enough you should be OK with any combination of sizes.
But if in doubt maybe you should select the narrowest. 'Alternating grain' is a bit theoretical but could help.
PS are you mixing up your units; cm to mm? In UK we don't use cm its all either mm or metres.
Appearance not much of an issue with oak, anything goes, unless you have quarter-cut figured stuff, which can look good.
PPS forgot to say - the board fixing is important to allow for movement - you need "buttons" in slots if it's a conventional design
Thank you Jacob,

I made a typo, they should be all in cm, so I will convert the post to mm for clarity and consistency. I originally wanted to use buttons, but I wanted to make the two drawers be full-width of the longer side. And I cannot place buttons above the drawers, as the apron will be only 80 mm tall.

The general design is as in this picture (Urban Forest Furniture - Custom Handmade Furniture and Cabinetry) , but with only two drawers, as the whole table will be shorter.
1672422232875.png


So the bottom front rail will be morticed horizontally into the legs and the top rail will be dovetailed. How can I attach the top, as the buttons will be too thick and would interfere with opening the drawers?
 
If you want the top to stay flat I think the most important things are

Choosing boards that are quarter sawn or as close as you have.

Letting the boards acclimatise in the room the table will be in for as long as possible.

When machining the wood remove equal amounts off each side.

Whatever you finish the top with give it equal coats on the top and bottom.

I think the rest is down to how you want it to look, to me grain matching is more important than alternating boards and I prefer different width boards to having them all the same size but that is personal preference. If you prefer a flame type grain and don't want to see the rays go for flat sawn boards but they have more chance of moving.
Thank you for your advice,

I have only flat sawn boards, so for me, the selection is easy. Hopefully, it will work out.
 
Thank you Jacob,

I made a typo, they should be all in cm, so I will convert the post to mm for clarity and consistency. I originally wanted to use buttons, but I wanted to make the two drawers be full-width of the longer side. And I cannot place buttons above the drawers, as the apron will be only 80 mm tall.

The general design is as in this picture (Urban Forest Furniture - Custom Handmade Furniture and Cabinetry) , but with only two drawers, as the whole table will be shorter.
View attachment 150086

So the bottom front rail will be morticed horizontally into the legs and the top rail will be dovetailed. How can I attach the top, as the buttons will be too thick and would interfere with opening the drawers?
I've made a lot of similar tables but most with 2 drawers. Various tops, mostly sycamore but the last one was ply + formica.
Instead of buttons at the front I've screwed direct through the top rail into the top. Say 4 screws countersunk. Made easier with a matching hole in the bottom rail where you can poke a screwdriver through.
So all movement would be at the back edge, which is fixed to the apron by 4 buttons in slots. Need to be not too tight and with room to move. Also useful if you want to take the top off for transporting it etc.
Table here Post a photo of the last thing you made you can just see the 4 holes in the bottom rail for inserting a screwdriver.
NB - you need to make the top and bottom rails quite wide say 100mm, to add strength to hold up the drawers.
Another one here Post a photo of the last thing you made
 
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I've made a lot of similar tables but most with 2 drawers. Various tops, mostly sycamore but the last one was ply + formica.
Instead of buttons at the front I've screwed direct through the top rail into the top. Say 4 screws countersunk. Made easier with a matching hole in the bottom rail where you can poke a screwdriver through.
So all movement would be at the back edge, which is fixed to the apron by 4 buttons in slots. Need to be not too tight and with room to move. Also useful if you want to take the top off for transporting it etc.
Table here Post a photo of the last thing you made you can just see the 4 holes in the bottom rail for inserting a screwdriver.
NB - you need to make the top and bottom rails quite wide say 100mm, to add strength to hold up the drawers.
Thank you Jacob, good idea. Maybe I will use a rachet with a screwdriver bit and I will make holes into the top rail above the drawer openings, so I will not need to create holes into the bottom rail as well.
 
Have you your heart set on wide boards, or is it just the solidness of a solid timber top you're after.
I ask, because you could limit your widths to 70mm, with lots of biscuits and alternating rings you'll get a very stable top that wont really cup.
I did a desk top in cherry 20+ years ago in narrow section, and its still nice and flat.
 
This kind of attachment doesn't take up much space. You use a forester bit to make a shallow recess for them in the rail.

This kind don't take up a lot of room either. If you have a biscuit machine they make cutting the slot easy.

Sourcing them on your side should be easy.

I would suggest making the top wider than 700mm/70cm/27 1/2"😉 if you can. That would not leave much room between people sitting opposite on another.

Pete
 
Thank you Jacob,

I made a typo, they should be all in cm, so I will convert the post to mm for clarity and consistency. I originally wanted to use buttons, but I wanted to make the two drawers be full-width of the longer side. And I cannot place buttons above the drawers, as the apron will be only 80 mm tall.

The general design is as in this picture (Urban Forest Furniture - Custom Handmade Furniture and Cabinetry) , but with only two drawers, as the whole table will be shorter.
View attachment 150086

So the bottom front rail will be morticed horizontally into the legs and the top rail will be dovetailed. How can I attach the top, as the buttons will be too thick and would interfere with opening the drawers?
Why cannot you button into the top rail? - just make the buttons 12/6mm into 18mm rail.

A biscuit joiner is ideal for making the notches.
 
Have you your heart set on wide boards, or is it just the solidness of a solid timber top you're after.
I ask, because you could limit your widths to 70mm, with lots of biscuits and alternating rings you'll get a very stable top that wont really cup.
I did a desk top in cherry 20+ years ago in narrow section, and its still nice and flat.
Thank you Triton,

I do not have a biscuit joiner and I will probably make the whole table with hand tools only (unless I will be too exhausted during the sawing and planing phase). So I would like to avoid too many rip cuts if possible.
 
This kind of attachment doesn't take up much space. You use a forester bit to make a shallow recess for them in the rail.

This kind don't take up a lot of room either. If you have a biscuit machine they make cutting the slot easy.

Sourcing them on your side should be easy.

I would suggest making the top wider than 700mm/70cm/27 1/2"😉 if you can. That would not leave much room between people sitting opposite on another.

Pete
Thank you Pete,

great idea with those attachments. I will search for local equivalents here. I assume that the figure eight attachment is placed somewhat diagonally along the long side of the table as a default position, so that wood can move in either direction (either shrink or expand). In the short side (along the grain), it is placed straight.

I have small space in my dining area, so that is why I copy the dimensions of the current table. But I can make it 100 mm wider (not much longer, though).
 
Why cannot you button into the top rail? - just make the buttons 12/6mm into 18mm rail.

A biscuit joiner is ideal for making the notches.
A bit on the thin side. If there was any movement could snap. Also the table gets lifted by the top which is another source of stress
I thought of metal buttons such as Pete suggested above but went for the screw straight through and made up wood buttons on the far edge. Not having to buy anything!
 
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Thank you Jacob,

I made a typo, they should be all in cm, so I will convert the post to mm for clarity and consistency. I originally wanted to use buttons, but I wanted to make the two drawers be full-width of the longer side. And I cannot place buttons above the drawers, as the apron will be only 80 mm tall.

The general design is as in this picture (Urban Forest Furniture - Custom Handmade Furniture and Cabinetry) , but with only two drawers, as the whole table will be shorter.
View attachment 150086

So the bottom front rail will be morticed horizontally into the legs and the top rail will be dovetailed. How can I attach the top, as the buttons will be too thick and would interfere with opening the drawers?

Hi Tibi

My thought is that the legs of this table are too narrow for a kitchen table. The proportions looks wrong to my eye. This appear to be more of a sideboard table - long and narrow.

As Jacob has written, I see no problem in using board# of different widths - it just depends on the look one wants. A “farm house” style will benefit from varying widths, while something modern may want the balance that comes from equal widths and selection of figure.

I have never bothered rearranging the growth rings, and just concentrated on presenting the grain in the most attractive way. Then I ensure that the top is well supported and can move with changes of temperature - use wooden or metal buttons to attach the top.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 
Hi Tibi

My thought is that the legs of this table are too narrow for a kitchen table. The proportions looks wrong to my eye. This appear to be more of a sideboard table - long and narrow.

As Jacob has written, I see no problem in using board# of different widths - it just depends on the look one wants. A “farm house” style will benefit from varying widths, while something modern may want the balance that comes from equal widths and selection of figure.

I have never bothered rearranging the growth rings, and just concentrated on presenting the grain in the most attractive way. Then I ensure that the top is well supported and can move with changes of temperature - use wooden or metal buttons to attach the top.

Regards from Perth

Derek
Thank you very much Derek for sending me the link to your page ( I have already read it) and also for your explanation. I have provided the image just to show the arrangement of the drawers, that they will stretch from leg to leg like in the picture. The dimensions of my table will be probably 1200x800 mm. I will probably use figure 8 fasteners, if I will be able to source them here, or something similar
1672480438942.png
 
You might find this discussion useful, about half way down the page is the bit particularly relevant to your first question. Slainte.
Thank you, Richard,

I have read the whole page through and I am also looking forward to reading your article about drawer construction. I will go along with the wide boards and I will see what happens. If the table warps in time, I am still able to remove the table top and plane it flat.

I have read also the article about sharpening. Did the Scottish guy that taught you woodworking really use only one oilstone and his palm and he was able to shave with the blade? Was it fine India or some other stone?
 

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