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Oak table top advice please ?

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Sheffield Tony

Ghost of the disenchanted
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I'm currently making a small oak table for a particularly difficult client (myself !).

The top is to be 750x500 mm, and I have a couple of 1" (actually about 29mm) sawn boards to start with. I'd like the top to be 22mm thick, but 20 is OK if I can't get 22 out of it.

My first board is quartersawn, nice character. It is from the middle of the tree, and I could see it wanted to split down the middle, so I have cut it to 2 x 130mm. The other piece is sawn through and through, and is quite a way off from the centre of a (different) tree. I've got a 260mm width single piece out of this.

The top will fasten to, and hopefully be encouraged to stay flat by, a pair of 400mm long cleats. My initial plan was to fix it by three screws up through each cleat, with slotted holes for the outer two to allow for seasonal movement, and a snug hole for the centre ones . I was going to put the quarter sawn pieces at the outside, so that the 50mm that overhangs the end of the cleats is of the more stable stuff. That would make the board widths 125-250-125; but I'm having anxiety that the central (not quartersawn) board will try to cup one way or the other and possibly split down the middle. My first thought was to rip it in two down the length and flip one half over so I have 4 pieces at 125mm, but then a central screw ends up hitting the glue join between two boards - an odd number might be better. Perhaps I cut in three, and go for graduated widths like 125-90-70-90-125 ? Any thoughts ?

Finally - fastenings. I know that steel screws are a bad idea, which is best, brass or SS ? Also, on an old drawing board I once reused, there were some really neat oval brass washers with a slotted hole, so that it fitted tidily into a routed recess, and allowed the screw head to slide freely in the slot. Anyone seen these anywhere, or do I have to make my own out of sheet brass or SS ?

Thanks for any suggestions !
 

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