Flattening a table top with limited equipment - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 Old 12-17-2016, 04:29 PM Thread Starter
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Flattening a table top with limited equipment

My mother bought an old kitchen table and wants me to build a new top for it. I haven't even seen the table base yet, but I want to get started on a game plan. Unfortunately, my skills and tools are limited.

She wants a "country" style top, rectangular and made of yellow pine boards - something along the lines of this. I've glued up panels before, and breadboard ends seem pretty straightforward, but I don't have a planer, a thickness sander, or even a belt sander to flatten the piece with. What I do have are a No. 4 plane and a router.

I have no confidence in my ability to flatten the table top with the plane. So, right now my best idea is to use the router and build a frame and big sub-base for it. I've seen this technique used to flatten cutting boards and log sections, but never a whole table top. Is there any reason it wouldn't work? Are there better options that won't cost a fortune?

Any advice is appreciated!
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post #2 of 9 Old 12-17-2016, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Nathan Parker View Post
My mother bought an old kitchen table and wants me to build a new top for it. I haven't even seen the table base yet, but I want to get started on a game plan. Unfortunately, my skills and tools are limited.

She wants a "country" style top, rectangular and made of yellow pine boards - something along the lines of this. I've glued up panels before, and breadboard ends seem pretty straightforward, but I don't have a planer, a thickness sander, or even a belt sander to flatten the piece with. What I do have are a No. 4 plane and a router.

I have no confidence in my ability to flatten the table top with the plane. So, right now my best idea is to use the router and build a frame and big sub-base for it. I've seen this technique used to flatten cutting boards and log sections, but never a whole table top. Is there any reason it wouldn't work? Are there better options that won't cost a fortune?

Any advice is appreciated!
You can probably find a cabinet shop nearby that will run it through a wide belt sander for a very reasonable price. My hardwood supplier has one that I have used, too. Check around for someone with the equipment near you.

Good luck!

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post #3 of 9 Old 12-17-2016, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sbrader View Post
You can probably find a cabinet shop nearby that will run it through a wide belt sander for a very reasonable price. My hardwood supplier has one that I have used, too. Check around for someone with the equipment near you.

Good luck!

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I hadn't thought of that. Thanks for the idea!
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post #4 of 9 Old 12-18-2016, 08:52 AM
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The cabinet shop is a very good suggestion.

On the other hand, why do you thing that the top is going to need a lot of flattening? If you do a good job of aligning the boards an orbital sander should be sufficient.

George
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post #5 of 9 Old 12-18-2016, 09:17 AM
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You can use your router also

There's two things you can do with your router. Select the best faces and put them "good side up" on the bench. Using a "slot cutter bit" make a slot on the edges of the boards 1/8" wide and 1/2" deep to hold a 1/8" piece of material Masonite, plywood or small biscuits. Use the slots and spines or biscuits to align the boards so they won't shift when you glue them up causing your to have off sets which will need to be sanded or planed away a real PITA.


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The second use would be to make a planing jig for your router which will flatten the entire table top. There are many on You Tube, but is a very simple one you can make from common materials:


A different one, a bit larger:

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; 12-18-2016 at 09:25 AM.
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post #6 of 9 Old 12-18-2016, 02:00 PM
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The cabinet shop is a very good suggestion.

On the other hand, why do you thing that the top is going to need a lot of flattening? If you do a good job of aligning the boards an orbital sander should be sufficient.

George
Many of us have built glued up panels using s4s material from the local lumberyard, it is a matter of being able to select the material in person, if they don't allow that move on to another store.

What ever you do a random orbital sander is pretty well a necessity for any kind of woodworking and you don't have to break the bank to purchase one.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #7 of 9 Old 12-18-2016, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by GeorgeC View Post
The cabinet shop is a very good suggestion.

On the other hand, why do you thing that the top is going to need a lot of flattening? If you do a good job of aligning the boards an orbital sander should be sufficient.

George
Thanks! I just assumed I wouldn't be able to get sufficiently flat boards. I plan on getting the boards from Lowe's, and... their boards are not the best. But I will see what I can find.
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post #8 of 9 Old 12-18-2016, 02:49 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
There's two things you can do with your router. Select the best faces and put them "good side up" on the bench. Using a "slot cutter bit" make a slot on the edges of the boards 1/8" wide and 1/2" deep to hold a 1/8" piece of material Masonite, plywood or small biscuits. Use the slots and spines or biscuits to align the boards so they won't shift when you glue them up causing your to have off sets which will need to be sanded or planed away a real PITA.

The second use would be to make a planing jig for your router which will flatten the entire table top. There are many on You Tube, but is a very simple one you can make from common materials:

A different one, a bit larger:
Thanks! The planing jig is what I had in mind when I mentioned using my router to flatten the table top, I just couldn't think of the name. Using splines is a great idea! I was going to use dowels, but splines seem like they would be faster to set up and easier to align.
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post #9 of 9 Old 12-18-2016, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by FrankC View Post
Many of us have built glued up panels using s4s material from the local lumberyard, it is a matter of being able to select the material in person, if they don't allow that move on to another store.

What ever you do a random orbital sander is pretty well a necessity for any kind of woodworking and you don't have to break the bank to purchase one.
Thanks! You guys have given me hope that this project will be less of a bear than I had feared. I do have a 5" random orbit sander; I didn't mention it as a flattener because I didn't think it would be up to the job.
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