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French farmhouse table

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gasman

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A friend wants me to make her a really large farmhouse table - 2100 x 1000 ideally - with tapered legs, an apron and 2 drawers. She wants the table top to be from 3 or maximum 4 boards with no breadboard ends - just 7' planks jointed. She wants 'fruitwood' which I presume means cherry given the required width of boards. I was going to do 100 mm sq legs tapering to 65 at the bottom - with a 200mm overhang at each end, 100 mm overhang at the edges and 50 x 100 aprons
I am concerned several aspects - but particularly about movement in the table top due to the lack of breadboards to keep stability - also how would you joint the 3 boards - with tenons and pegs - or just with dominos / biscuits.
Anyone got any plans or advice for this sort of thing would be great. I have had a go in sketchup and will post this attempt later (on my desktop at home)
Thanks
Mark
 

Paul Chapman

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I'd go with Dominos/biscuits. You don't say how thick the top is but if necessary use two rows. I did that with this circular oak table top, which was very successful. Also quick and easy





Cheers :wink:

Paul
 

gasman

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Thanks Paul good idea about the double row of biccies - I was thinking of 35-40mm for the top depending on what timber my local yard has in stock of cherry
Do you think the lack of breadboard ends will be a problem - would you reinforce the bottom with 'cross-pieces' to try to reduce cupping or just suck it and see?
Thanks Mark
 

Paul Chapman

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gasman":9jzg91ic said:
Do you think the lack of breadboard ends will be a problem
I've never gone along with the notion that breadboard ends stop the wood moving. Wood will always move. Far more important in my view to have some mechanical fixing, like Dominos/biscuits/loose tongues or whatever, along the length. Useful to read what Alan Peters said about this and glue choice in his book 'Cabinetmaking - The Professional Approach'.

Using Dominos/biscuits is also good to keep the wood aligned so that you don't have to remove too much material when finishing the top.

Cheers :wink:

Paul
 

Sawyer

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gasman":bysk85t6 said:
Do you think the lack of breadboard ends will be a problem - would you reinforce the bottom with 'cross-pieces' to try to reduce cupping or just suck it and see?
Thanks Mark
Shouldn't need to, I don't think: once it's fixed to the underframe, that should achieve the same result. Remember to allow for movement when you fix the top though - otherwise it's liable to split. 'Buttons' are a good system from this point of view.
 

Lons

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It's down to personal choice and availability of tooling but I usually favour loose plywood tongues which give a large glue surface area and have done this many times. Never used a double tongue but can't see any problems with that.

Another alternative would be to tongue and groove the boards. At those widths there would be only 3 joints so would cost you only 30 - 40 mm total material loss.

Don't know if any advantage or otherwise over biscuits or dominoes (which I've never used), just my 2 pennerth.

Bob
 

woodbloke

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Sawyer":1ck8t0q9 said:
gasman":1ck8t0q9 said:
Do you think the lack of breadboard ends will be a problem - would you reinforce the bottom with 'cross-pieces' to try to reduce cupping or just suck it and see?
Thanks Mark
Shouldn't need to, I don't think: once it's fixed to the underframe, that should achieve the same result. Remember to allow for movement when you fix the top though - otherwise it's liable to split. 'Buttons' are a good system from this point of view.
I'd agree. These farmhouse style tables seem to be in vogue at the moment and are always built on the chunkable side. Provided the material for the top is properly seasoned and jointed (Doms, biscuits, dowels, ply tongues or nowt at all) it ought to stay flat if it's secured to a beefed up under frame. I'd suggest that large buttons with big screws are probably the best way to hold it in place.
I'd emphasize though that the top boards need to be really well conditioned for the eventual environment that they're going to be in, as any subsequent movement of the finished top will be very difficult to correct if it ever does start to move - Rob
 

gasman

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So construction is underway, boards are seasoning inside my house and tapered legs are finished but the client wants 2 drawers in the sides
I have mocked up a sketchup of it and I think it will be strong enough - file attached - I am also going to reinforce the apron underneath the drawers with a flu length piece
dining table.png

The client now says she does not want to see the drawers - i.e. the faces need to be full depth of the apron and no handle so they are pulled out from under the apron as it were. I am less happy about this as I cannot see how to make it as strong.
Anyone got any better ideas?
Thanks
Mark
 

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gasman

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Maybe I should expand on what I have thought so far... If I cut a 20mm thick piece of cherry as long as the other apron rail and then cut that into 5 pieces - 1 for each end, 2 for the drawer fronts then a short piece between the drawers, then I could glue that to a sort of 'torsion box' maybe 4 1/2 inches square which would have the 2 drawers sliding through it - but I still worry about where the strength of the rail will come from - the top is 30mm cherry and heavy - the top will be 2200 x 950 eventually although the length of each rail is 1550 since there is a 250 mm overhang at each end
Thanks again for any advice
Mark
 

marcros

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how much overhang is on the sides of the table- will you actually see the drawers as you have drawn them from most viewing angles? If the fronts were grainmatched and handleless them might be almost invisible. could you knock up the side or part there of from a piece to demonstrate this to the client?
 

woodbloke

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I think you're going to need to be cunning here Mark as what she's asking for are 'invisible' drawers or ones where the fronts can barely be seen, which means that the grain is going to have to line up. There is a way to do it and I'll try and explain, so bear with me.

Take the long side rail (which must be oversize) and split it lengthwise into three or four long boards of equal thickness and once machined, mark the sequence that they go back together.

Take the first, or outer board, re-saw it and glue back together such that you now have two openings for the drawer fronts...if you do the maths you'll see that you'll need 5 bits of wood, two long pieces top and bottom and three sections in the middle.

On the re-assembled outer board, machine a small rebate in the top and bottom where the drawers are, it doesn't need to be very deep (say 6mm) which will give the illusion that the drawers are full width across the depth.

Now take the second board in the stack and cut the drawer fronts from it, so that the grain will almost be an 100% match (and only separated by the thickness of a saw blade and subsequent cleaning up) and then make suitable matching rebates along the top and bottom to fit the ones in the rail.

With the remainder of the boards, you can now build up the thickness of the original rail by re-gluing them onto the outer board...the drawers can then be made in the normal way.

I did see this procedure done and it does work, but it's a bit of a faff to do - Rob
 

gasman

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Thanks Rob and marcros. I do understand what you are saying - but my biggest concern is not the appearance but the strength of the rail to support a table top which is going to weigh close to 100 kg I would have thought (having carried the boards down my garden myself!!!)
Cheers you have given me some food for thought
Mark
 

woodbloke

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gasman":3ru7qe6g said:
Thanks Rob and marcros. I do understand what you are saying - but my biggest concern is not the appearance but the strength of the rail to support a table top which is going to weigh close to 100 kg I would have thought (having carried the boards down my garden myself!!!)
Cheers you have given me some food for thought
Mark
I understand Mark. Whichever way you slice it (literally! :lol: ) that rail is going to be weaker, simply because you've got to cut two big holes in it for the drawer fronts. If you split the front rail as I suggest, the other option is to incorporate some hefty steel work into the subsequent boards behind the front 'show' section.
Without wishing to get into the egg sucking area (and I know you'll understand where I'm coming from) I'd be inclined to really think you're way through this one before you start the construction as any errors are going to be potentially quite costly. I don't want to appear to be condescending but am genuinely trying to offer help...'tis a tricky one! - Rob
 

Pete Maddex

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Hi,

Make the draw fronts the full depth of the rail, but the draw box less allowing you to have rails at the top and bottom hidden by the draw fronts.

Pete
 

Togalosh

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Hi Gasman..I've been puzzling these exact same questions for the past 2 weeks & although I'm not 100% sure how to tackle it either I'm veering towards having the drawers on the ends instead. I am more confident of the strength this way but also won't need to match the grain so carefully.

The one thing I've not seen you query is the depth of the drawers - what were you planning on?
I thought 105mm apron made up of 20mm stretchers above & below the drawers (obviously..if I have my terminology correct) might be enough for strength once it was all fixed together (the top adding the rigidity - althogh my table is 1600 long), this would make the drawer sides 65 but the insides only 50mm..this seems too shallow to me..or am I missing something?

At first I was planning to have 3 drawers along the long aprons hoping that the extra runners etc would act as more support but was hoping to ask the more skilled & experienced on here before I did anything.

Have you made up your mind yet?
 

gasman

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Thanks for the post
I had the 'client' (very good friends of mine) round on saturday and they decided what they wanted
This is a reasonable approximation
Maynard dining room table2.png

The drawers will probably have finger holes to open them near the top so they cannot be seen (75mm overhang at the sides)
I have finished all the base except the drawers and it all looks good - much stronger than I thought. I will take a phot later and add it here
The drawers are 80mm deep so will end up 65 or so usable height
Hope that helps
Mark
 

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gasman

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Sorry - forgot to add what I actually did about that front piece. First I thicknessed it to 36mm, with depth about 115. Then I ripped 32mm off lengthways for the bottom rail. Then I worked out I wanted the 2 drawers to be 420 mm wide so cut the top bit into 5 pieces with 2x 424mm drawers pieces 2 and 4. Then I glued pieces 1,3 and 5 back onto the bottom 32mm (thicknessed back to 30 now), leaving a 420mm gap each side. Then I made the tenons on the end as for the other side and it has all gone very well. If I am concerned about strength (by the time all the other framework is in place for the drawers it is actually very sturdy), I could get a 5x25mm steel bar and rebate that into a groove in the bottom rail - but at the moment I do not think I need it
An interesting journey - here it is thus far
7449901300_636e45799a.jpg
 

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woodbloke

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...so if I'm reading this right, section 2 will be forming the drawer fronts?
Edit: yep, sections 2 and 4 for the fronts - Rob
 

Jacob

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You will have a problem with the drawers and the apron in that there is nothing to stop it sagging, unless it is screwed up to the top itself, which is not good.
You'll get there in the end no doubt but IMHO you are making the classic mistake of trying to design something off the top of your head without doing any research at all, which needs only to be as simple as looking at a good example of a traditional table, crawling undrneath etc and taking a few snaps and measurements. You would find all your design problems solved in a simple and economical way.
If you want to do craftwork of any kind looking at other stuff is absolutely essential, or you are working in the dark.
 
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