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Farmhouse style table - general advice requested!

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julianf

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My partner would like me to make a kitchen table, farm house style, from the boards that people kindly ID'd for me the other day.

But theyre pretty thin... Much thinner than the stock that i see other people using for "farmhouse" style tables.

To recap, these are the boards (well, not actually them, as theyre short ones, but i have some longer) -








etc. Again these are not the actual parts, but theyre the ones i took photos of. I have some 7 foot (aprox) lengths also.

I just measured three, and they were 20, 21, and 22mm.


Im not planning on planing these, so i wont loose much stock. They are too naily for the planer, and i dont want them too fresh anyhow.

(the house that they were out of was built in approximately 1850, so theyre a few years old)


But is 20mm a bit on the thin side for this sort of build?



This is likley the sort of design ill end up with -



I actually prefer this styling -



however, i have no way of turning the legs, and i do have the joists that the boards in my photos were sitting on, which are more applicable to the above design.


For background, i have minimal skill with woodworking. Im a metal worker (precision stuff) so have background in 3d stuff, but limited experience with wood! (i have a wadkin table saw, and a axminster planer/thickenesser though). Ive made cabinet doors and stuff like that before, but no tables, so any additional advice would be welcomed!

Thank you!
 

rafezetter

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My only contribution would be that if the wood is only about 20mm thick, then bread board ends (as per the top example) is probably your safest option to keep the sections flat, unless by some miracle the wood you have is all quatersawn.

As for the rest I've not actually made a table so can't comment - I've made a top, and a set of legs and rails, but neither at the same time as parts of the same table :) go figure.
 

Ttrees

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If it were me, I would get a metal detector wand and denail it, rip the boards to get rid of the
damaged crumbly timber from the beatles, and laminate up the boards to make thicker stock.
Then again you might like a delicate rotting thin flimsy table, with loads of iron staining because the
very high tannin content in oak, will leave big black stains if it's going outside.
I suppose that could be dealt with though.
If it's for indoors, in a non centrally heated cool home, I definitely would not want a big pheromone shack for the lil blighters to reside.

It's not like you don't have the equipment to do it, the dare I say, normal way.
That old saying comes to mind
If you don't have the time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over again.

Maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment, but sher is that not the same for every machinist :D
Just my 2cents though
Tom
 

thetyreman

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I would definitely go with breadboard ends as well, but proper breadboard ends are not a walk in the park for a beginner, they are at least intermediate level possibly advanced level, you'd have to practise some joinery first and be good at mortise and tenons and drilling precise holes for the pins, some people think they're ugly but I see them as a sign of quality and it's going to be an heirloom piece not just another throw away table if you do it properly.
 

dzj

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20mm is enough, but judging by the quality of stock in the photos, it'll be more a utilitarian piece than fine furniture.
I wouldn't bother with breadboard ends. Just the usual combination of aprons, buttons, cleats and elongated holes.
It will probably move a bit, but most table-tops on original/vernacular pieces are a bit wonky.
Also, as mentioned above, remove any damage bugs made over the years.
 

AndyT

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There used to be a technique for tables called "lining up." It was simply putting a frame of narrow timber under the edge of a thin top so that it looked thicker all round.
Of course, it does mean that you will have wood going across the ends of the table which won't expand and contract in its length, joined on to the top boards which will expand and contract in their width. But in a rustic piece that's no great issue.
The underneath frame doesn't need to be anything elaborate. It can be butted or mitred at the corners. It doesn't even need to be jointed - you can just screw the strips up into the top. (Drill oversized holes to allow for movement though.)
It won't be fine furniture but that's not what you are aiming at.
 

MikeG.

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I'd suggest caution. Tables are not simple to do well. You say you have little in the way of woodworking skills, so do you feel confident of achieving 8 decent mortise and tenons which will resist the table being dragged along the floor, or someone falling against it? I can see a great deal of frustration and then disappointment in your future if you tackle this project before you have the necessary skills and experience.

Why don't you make a coffee table or side table first, as a dry run for the dining table? It will reveal all of the issues (other than the too-thin timber for the top, which will be fine for a small table). You'll learn a lot, and you may be able to better match the design to you abilities.

As for the too-thin top, I would have breadboard ends out of thicker material, and pack out the under edge of the long sides with a strip glued on to the same thickness as the breadboard ends. I'd say that 27 to 30mm would be the sort of minimum thickness for the visible edges of the table you should be aiming for, but that 32 to 38mm is more the sort of territory for these sorts of tables.
 

sunnybob

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I cant give you construction advice, but I can give you some advance warning that a table made out of crumbly reclaimed timber is not going to last long as your dining table because your missus is going to go spare trying to keep it clean and mess free. Those tables look great in magazine articles and museum set pieces, but day to day living is a whole different set of rules. :roll:
 

Mike Jordan

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image.jpg
This is my answer, one I made earlier! Just over 25 years earlier, the top is made of 38mm quartered oak so it has stayed completely flat in spite of being in a south facing window and as hot as hell in the summer!
It's recently been sanded and refinished as you can see from the shine.
Don't waste time and talent on what appears to be firewood rather than sound timber. Breadboard ends, thickened edges etc will give you something you can call "rustic" or "character" but it won't be a joy to the eye of a skilled maker of any kind.
Sorry if this sounds a bit offensive but I am certain that the cost of decent materials will look like a good investment in a couple of decades, and will allow you to exercise your skills rather than the ability to bodge and try to maintain that it's a proper job.
 

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MikeG.

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I'm going to gently disagree with Mike and others who don't like this style of timber for furniture. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and battered reclaimed timber, even with some rot and/ or woodworm, can make extremely attractive furniture.........just not the "fine" furniture which Mike and others are comparing it to. I would most definitely consider using the OP's wood for a table top, in the right circumstances. My issue is that the OP admits to not having the woodworking skills to pull this off, and this sort of wood probably complicates things somewhat.
 

dzj

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The OP says he made "cabinet doors and stuff like that before...", so he's probably around an intermediate level of WW. I doubt he'll have many problems building a table.
Should the few mortise and tenons prove to be too big an obstacle, there are ways to make such a table with no traditional joinery at all.
 

julianf

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Thank you to all for your comments.

Some points i think i should clarify -

1) I realise that choice of material is, to some extent, subjective. Sure, you cant make a kitchen table out of tissue paper (well, not easily, but its possible!) but we do not want a perfect finish. We have a perfectly flat, shiny table, and, well, in my eyes, its dull. Again this is subjective.


Whilst Mike's table is fine, and all that, its subjective, and pretty much the sort of look im trying to get away from -




I mean this is our current table. Nothing wrong with it at all. Except it has no real class.



The stock im wanting to use is reclaimed, and, yes, it has damage (ive been watching youtube videos on resins etc. but im not convinced yet - i think ill need to try on a test part) but, for the most part, its not "crumbley" - its been in place as a structural floor (crumbley bits and all) for the past 170 years with people walking about on it. Im not thinking its going to fall apart the moment i put my dinner on it! : )


I also realise that reclaimed stock is harder to work with. Some people seem to look at it only as a financial cost thing, but this just isnt the case in every situation. Sure, items can be artificially aged, but im not wholly keen on that either.

Here is one i made earlier, with reclaimed wood -





A quick 18mm chipboard floor with some tongue and groove hardwood over the top would have been a much simpler job. And looked like all the other tongue and groove floors in existence. Its subjective. Our floor is not "wrong" nor are the shiny flat ones. Its just what you like, and what you can suffer for that passion!

2) Thank you to dzj for picking up on my moderate skill level. I mean im careful not to overplay things when asking for advice, as i would rather have too detailed a response than one assuming that i knew, but getting a "dont do it, youre not good enough" is always a little dull!

Im not, nor will i ever be, a woodworker of any great level of skill. I have too many other things in life to take up the time that is required to reach a level of greatness in the area. But, yes, i get by.

As an example -





I mean its nothing great. The rest of our kitchen has these doors -



(off the shelf from b&q)

but i couldnt get any in the size i wanted for the sink unit (which again, is diy) so i coppied the b&q ones -



The finish isnt the same, and the job isnt perfect (theres a bit of twist on the right hand door - but them there is on some of the b&q ones also!) but the colour is a match (regardless of the photo) and theyre good enough for us.

Oh yeah, the wood was from an old table i took apart, but that wasnt for appearance, but simply as i had it to hand. The joints are all coppied from the commercial ones - where you get a groove and a proud bit that fits in? I dont know the name, as, well, im not really a wood worker. The center bit is inset into an internal groove. I guess i must have done it with a router, but i dont remember.


A touch more background of our kitchen -



and my partner doing the lime plastering -



and with a reclaimed rayburn -

(sitting on some of the full size snooker table i purchased)




A bit more of the snooker table -



(my patner made that little cabinet - the mesh on the front was an old fire guard in a previous life and the tongue and groove was from some alterations here)





3) (i realise im going on a bit now)

I will not use new wood for this. Thats not the point for me. The point is to use wood that came from the house to build something new for the house. Someone i know who has a mill has even offered me oak slabs, but, again, thats kind of missing the point of what i want to do.
 

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disco_monkey79

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Can I have your house please?

Good luck with the table. I completely agree re old, characterful wood. The reason I like wood is no 2 bits are quite the same (except maybe for bookmatched veneer). If you're making to you and your OH's taste, then good for you.
 

El Barto

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What a fantastic project your house looks like! It must be so satisfying to complete a job and live with it.

If you find yourself in Hampshire feel free to use my lathe to make your legs.
 

julianf

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disco_monkey79":35394h8b said:
Can I have your house please?
Hahaha... If only you knew the truth of things.

Its a building site. Still... It will be nice when its done, but we are at the stage now where all the stuff done at the start needs re-decorating etc. and we are still not done on the stuff that needs doing.


Here are some more photos of the "kitchen" from when we started -










The fireplace beam was rotten and not to be trusted in any way at all, hence the replacement with some reclaimed elm.

The corner cupboard in the photos above is the one in the photo below -




And the lounge -





Same fireplace -




That whole floor came up. Its what happens when you skim old stone / lime walls with modern gypsum, and block up all the air bricks - everything goes rotten and starts falling apart.



This is a corner of the lounge - same wall as the fireplace is in, but the rear corner. There should have been cross ventilation there, but they blocked it all up and laid some of the floor joists on the ground (shoddy 1970s repair). Then skimmed the walls with gypsum just to make things worse.

Repaired or rebuild sleeper walls, ducted cross ventilation, insulated floor, lime plaster, and lime wash - zero issues with damp at all now. And to think, i was all set to tank it, before my partner talked me out of it. But then i didnt know what i was doing with that either at the start! : )
 

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julianf

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Anyhow, i hope the background above demonstrates why i do not want a perfectly flat, shiny table (like the one ive got)!
Also that i dont mind a bit of work to get something looking the way i want it to.

And, i guess, finally, that i can get stuff done, despite having no real skill at all!
 

Inspector

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If it were me I would skim the face of the boards opposite the show side and glue the boring boards under to make them thicker. That way you have a thicker rustic looking top about 40mm thick.

Or should you not have enough old wood you can get some thicker new Oak (make sure the moisture content of the two is the same) and glue the old wood on top, sides and end grain pieces for the ends.

After you have it glued you can touch up the new bits to match the old wood.

Pete
 
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