Beginning woodworker needs to make a large flat surface - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 Old 01-29-2014, 03:40 AM Thread Starter
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Beginning woodworker needs to make a large flat surface

Hi everybody,

My brother and I are fairly new to woodworking and starting our next project, a large desk. We want it to be 6'x3' and were originally looking for one large board for the top but the only ones in that size are particle board or plywood and we'd rather not use those. So my question is this: what's the best way to make a completely flat surface (suitable for writing on) out of multiple planks of wood and, if it's not possible to do what are our other options for the desk top? We're thinking of joining multiple planks with a biscuit joiner but aren't sure if that's the best way.

Thanks,
Aaron
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post #2 of 6 Old 01-29-2014, 07:37 AM
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You can get slabs that size. You can get slabs large enough to make conference tables but they are very pricey.

Id glue it up in sections. If using 6" wide boards, glue them into three panels then glue those three panels into one. Much simpler than trying to deal with all those boards in one glue up. Use cauls and lots of clamps. I dont see any advantage to the biscuits so personally, Id leave them out. After my panel was complete, Id find a mill or cabinet shop or someplace with a large drum sander and have them sand the panel perfectly flat.

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post #3 of 6 Old 01-29-2014, 07:55 AM
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Your really better off with the plywood. It's more stable than gluing up solid wood and you don't have the issue of wood movement. Wood expands and contracts and a panel that large will move quite a bit. Then you can expect the top to shrink as much as a 1/4" over your lifetime depending on the species. If you are going to do it you need to mount the top to the desk from the underside with screws in elongated holes so the wood is allowed to move on it's own. If it is firmly mounted when it shrinks it will split because the screws are holding the outer edges of the top and it has to relieve the pressure somehow. Also a panel that large is prone to warp. You can minimise this by looking at the end grain when you glue it up and alternate the grain with one turning up and the next turning down. Even if all is perfect you have many boards working against each other pulling against the joints as each expand and contract different than each other. I would recommend running a spline in the joint for a better joint to withstand the wood movement. You don't have to run the spline all the way to the end of the boards where it shows, you could stop it 4" to 6" from each end.
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post #4 of 6 Old 01-29-2014, 08:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acreichman View Post
Hi everybody,

My brother and I are fairly new to woodworking and starting our next project, a large desk. We want it to be 6'x3' and were originally looking for one large board for the top but the only ones in that size are particle board or plywood and we'd rather not use those. So my question is this: what's the best way to make a completely flat surface (suitable for writing on) out of multiple planks of wood and, if it's not possible to do what are our other options for the desk top? We're thinking of joining multiple planks with a biscuit joiner but aren't sure if that's the best way.

Thanks,
Aaron



We have an introduction section where you can say a few words about yourself. If you fill out your profile in your "User Control Panel", you can list any hobbies, experience or other facts. You can also list your general geographical location which would be a help in answering some questions.

What were you looking for in a finished top...woodgrain, paint, some other finish? IOW, what do you want to see? If you want a flat top suitable for writing use particle board or MDF, and laminate Formica to it. A glued up wood top if absolutely finished smooth would be suitable, but a writing instrument could still run in the course of the grain.

You could use hardwood plywood or a glued up top, and cover it with a piece of glass.










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post #5 of 6 Old 01-29-2014, 08:09 AM
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gonna have to let us know what equipment ya have?

as long as you run the ends of your boards across a joiner it should have a seamless joint.

if you have a 12.5" planer join your boards into 12" (or get 12" planks) sections and run them through the planer, remove excess glue before planing, excess globs of glue is as bad as a nail going through your planer.

if you plane each 12" section then join them they should be close and require a smaller amount of sanding. lay a striaght edge across it to be sure the top is flat.
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post #6 of 6 Old 01-29-2014, 08:13 AM
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I would use a solid core slab door

The building of a perfectly flat surface from planks is not a "beginner" woodworking project in my opinion. The edges need to be squared at exactly 90 degrees, the planks need to be kiln dried to 7%, you will need many clamps and cauls to keep them flat while gluing up and then it should be sanded flat on a wide belt sander.

Like these 3'0" X 6' 8" for $107.00
http://www.bairdbrothers.com/Solid-C...s-W27C120.aspx

Here's one I built from 2" X 10" planks:
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f2/do...1-4-ply-55717/

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 01-29-2014 at 08:16 AM.
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