First-time building a table top from reclaimed lumber - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-15-2017, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
Guybrush Threepwood
 
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First-time building a table top from reclaimed lumber

Hi everybody,

For my first attempt at woodworking I'm (ambitiously) trying to build a dinner table using reclaimed wood. To start with, I got a batch of 14 pieces of backside-planed reclaimed oak barn lumber off a shop on ebay. Since I'm entirely new to woodworking I have a bunch of questions.

Let's start with a few pictures of the wood to clear things up:





First of all, the wood is not perfectly straight. I asked the shop beforehand whether the wood was dried, and they responded that it dried for 30 days in their shop before they planed it. Each piece is 4" x 32" x 3/4" inch. Sizes seem very precisely cut. The non-straightness is from warping a little, presumably(?) because they were not dry enough to begin with. Question is, how much warping is acceptable and / or should I wait some more to see how it develops? I bought them over a month ago and it seems like they are now actually settling a bit more. They were straight when I received them, then warped a bit within a week, and now I think it's getting a little better overall. Most commonly the boards are bell-shaped with their face side up with the middle about 2mm raised, though not all are. Some vary a bit in thickness based on the wood structure itself, i.e. knots. An example 'bell' warp with a millimeter ruler:




Secondly, there are 2 designs I can think of; first one:



Second one:



For option 2, it seems the sizes are cut precisely enough that it fits perfectly. Now since I'm new to this, and the wood probably not being perfectly dry, I wonder if that will work well. Seems like the wood would 'work' mostly along their long sides and thus this second design would strain the top more? I'm perfectly happy going for the easy route here since I like both designs.

Lastly; how to join the boards to form the top? I think, from reading around, that using biscuits + wood glue would do the trick, and possibly also compensate for the warping. Just not sure how much warping it would tolerate.

I have more questions, but this seems like a good start.
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-15-2017, 11:51 PM
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My first thought on the wood movement is that you might not have stored the boards in a manner that allowed air movement all around each one. If moisture absorption or elimination is not uniform, there is a greater chance of distortion.
A common practice is to "sticker" the wood. Stickering is stacking the wood with wood strips or other non-staining materials (usually about 1" thick) between the boards. This allows air flow all around each board.
Joining the boards: With straight, flat boards with well jointed edges, wood glue alone will create a strong bond.
For the second option, again glue alone will be more than adequate EXCEPT where the bread board end meets the table body. This joinery must allow for wood expansion. There are several approaches for this joinery. Lots of threads on this site detailing methods to be found by searching.
Also, when you're ready to mount the top to the base, check back in before you mount it. At this point you will again need to allow for wood movement, and people here can help.
Others will chime in with helpful tips.


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post #3 of 11 Old 05-16-2017, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
Guybrush Threepwood
 
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Alright, thanks for your feedback. I'm going to learn all I can about the different joining methods. The biggest worry I currently have is that I am not sure if these boards are still usable for a table top without replaning. You think it would be alright given the (slight?) warping? With the right amount of clamping using cauls and just wood glue this won't create too much tension?

Edit: When I received the boards I placed them vertically against a room temperature inner wall at a slight angle, with none of the boards touching (all next to each other)
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post #4 of 11 Old 07-23-2017, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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Smile

After months of reading up and slowly accumulating various tools, I've started assembling the table top. I had to resort to biscuit joins to align the top, as the boards are all uneven. Since I don't have the space to have a proper full woodworking shop with a planer and a jointer, I chose not to put effort into making all the boards perfectly straight. Instead, I did a best-effort attempt to at least straighten the edges using a router and a flush trim bit. This worked well and most edge joints are very snug.

I did notice that even with straightening the edges and clamping two boards together, that if you'd hold a flashlight below the two boards you could still see the light peeking through a little. I wasn't sure what to make of it and just went for it, and after gluing and clamping it seems to have resulted in near-perfect joins regardless. In response to this I did forego straightening a few edges because they seemed straight enough, and that did result in less perfect joins. Lesson learned!

Overall, I was skeptic that I would get a decent result given these boards and not having the proper tools to get them a little straighter. However, it seems like it has played out much better than I hoped. I just finished gluing all 14 boards together over the timespan of a week, and will now research what the best way is to finish the top. The top side is mostly even except for some small ridges here and there near the board ends or near knots. I think some localized sanding should take care of these spots, and then overall the entire top gets a light sanding as I want to preserve as much of the character of these boards as I can. Then, I'm thinking polyurethane and varnish. Ideas/tips welcome!
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post #5 of 11 Old 07-23-2017, 02:18 PM Thread Starter
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After two months of reading and slowly accumulating tools for the workshop, I have started assembling the table top. Since the boards are not straight enough and I don't have a jointer/planer, I resorted to using biscuit joints to align the top. I also chose to use the first design without the breadboard.

I used a router with a flush trim bit to straighten the edges of the board. This seemed to work really well. I did notice though that after straightening two boards and clamping them together, you'd still see light shining through between them if you hold a flashlight under the boards. However after gluing them up and clamping them, this is no longer the case and they look pretty perfect to me. I've foregone the straightening on a few boards that seemed to have straight edges, but those are not as good. Regretting that now but hey, you live and learn.

Next steps are to finish the top. Since I want to preserve the character as much as possible, I'm thinking to only lightl hand-sand the top. There are a few spots where the boards do not perfectly align and there are still some small ridges, mostly near the board ends. I think I will try and sand those a bit more and hope it won't show as much after coating. Speaking of which, I think I'm going for polyurethane and varnish for the top, front and back to prevent uneven working. Ideas/tips?
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Last edited by woodwalt; 07-23-2017 at 02:22 PM.
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post #6 of 11 Old 07-23-2017, 02:34 PM
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Sorry you haven't had many responses on this thread. The system kinda pegged you as a spamer and I missed it. I was suppose to approve the thread.

When you finish the table if you are trying to keep the natural look as much as possible I would recommend using a water based polyurethane. It will change the appearance less than most any other finish.
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post #7 of 11 Old 07-23-2017, 11:05 PM Thread Starter
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Ah! Thanks for the feedback. I like it as it is, though it could be a bit more darker. Will the water based polyurethane have that effect, and does it depend on the number of layers?
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post #8 of 11 Old 07-23-2017, 11:11 PM
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Water based poly won't darken it very much. If you wipe the wood with a wet rag that would give you an idea of how dark it will get with a finish on it. The number of coats doesn't matter. How ever dark it makes it with the first coat is how dark it will be. You might do some testing on the underside for color. The underside will need some kind of finish anyway. Always finish both sides of a large piece of wood. It helps prevent warpage.
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post #9 of 11 Old 07-23-2017, 11:20 PM
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Looks great! How thick is the top?

... turning perfectly good wood into firewood every day ... :smile3:
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post #10 of 11 Old 07-24-2017, 12:32 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
Water based poly won't darken it very much. If you wipe the wood with a wet rag that would give you an idea of how dark it will get with a finish on it. The number of coats doesn't matter. How ever dark it makes it with the first coat is how dark it will be. You might do some testing on the underside for color. The underside will need some kind of finish anyway. Always finish both sides of a large piece of wood. It helps prevent warpage.
Thanks for the tip about testing on the undersite, I somehow didn't think of that. I will try that.Should I desire a little more warm-ish coloring without losing the patina, what would you recommend?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Curl View Post
Looks great! How thick is the top?
Thanks! It's 3/4" thick. I've been thinking about frame styles. I like the farmhouse style like here: http://www.popularmechanics.com/home...able-17321824/

Do wonder though if that wouldn't be too thick for my table top, which will be around 31" x 52". Also, the frame should match the style and ideally also be made of barn wood. I have some constructing lumber ligned up that I might use for now and rough that up a bit, but not superstoked about that.
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post #11 of 11 Old 07-24-2017, 12:47 AM
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If you want some color and retain the clarity you might use a dye stain. Using a lighter color they are usually more natural looking.
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