Need advice on how to build a table from reclaimed pew backs - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 Old 11-14-2017, 10:53 PM Thread Starter
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Need advice on how to build a table from reclaimed pew backs

I'm a DIYer with limited carpentry experience and I've started a project that is beyond my experience. I've acquired 2 church pew backs, and two surplus restaurant table bases, and want to put it all together to make a table. The pew backs are each 85"x18"x5/8" white oak, and I've sanded them and filled the holes.

I have two questions:
  1. My wife creates tile mosaics, and she wants to create a 6" tile mosaic runner down the middle of the table. Any recommendations on how to attach the pew backs to the table bases, and leave the 6" gap for the tile work?
  2. The ends of the wood would've used tongue and groove to join into the pew ends. What can I do to clean this up and make it look like a table instead of scrap wood?
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post #2 of 6 Old 11-15-2017, 10:01 AM
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Are these pew backs perfectly flat? How thick? Are the edges finished and ready to be butted together? How thick are the tiles she wants to use in middle?

You do not want to leave a gap for the tile work. You want to make the table top solid and then route/plane/whatever method a groove down the center in which you will lay the tile.

What woodworking tools do you have?

George
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post #3 of 6 Old 11-15-2017, 01:04 PM
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I would build the table with the White Oak leaving the center open except on the two ends.
From the back (underneath) glue and screw 3/4” plywood to cover the opening.
I would overlap into the White Oak 2”. The holes will have to be pre-drilled for the screws into the Oak.
Since the Oak is 5/8” thick, you now have a nice flat 5/8” recessed trough to lay your tiles in.
If the tiles + the quickset mortar is too low, you will need to lay another thin sheet of wood in the recessed trough to build your height to level. For example, if the tiles are only 1/4” thick and with the adhesive you are still only 3/8”, your tile will set 1/4”below the table top unless you build up the opening under the tile. You can use 1/8”, 1/4” or whatever is required to make the center tiles level with the White Oak top. For this filler you can use plywood or MDF.
Please show a picture when completed.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #4 of 6 Old 11-25-2017, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions folks.

Just getting back to this now, I was pulled away to spend some time buying a new car.

> How thick?

5/8". Which I'm guessing is too thin for a biscuit joiner.

> Are these pew backs perfectly flat?

The wood is perfectly flat on the bottom, but the top has a very slight curve from the midpoint (what will be the 25% point when the whole thing is assembled) to the edge. I'm hoping that it won't be problematic to have a dinner plate that isn't perfectly level.

> What woodworking tools do you have?

Very little other than a screwgun and a jigsaw. Though if I need more tools, I'll try to rent/borrow/buy them.

> I would overlap into the White Oak 2”

That's all? I was thinking it would need a lot more overlap to retain strength.
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post #5 of 6 Old 11-25-2017, 04:39 PM
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You can still use biscuits for joining 5/8” wood. It would help you align your pieces for a good flat top.
I think 5/8” is too thin for a table top, but it’s White Oak and it will be strong if you don’t go any thinner.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #6 of 6 Old 11-25-2017, 04:41 PM
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I'd make it in 3 pieces

Your center section will move at a different rate across the width than the 2 outer sections, so just let it move at it's own rate. Do this by rigidly attaching it to braces that run across the width. Then allow the outer sections to move with slotted holes on the braces.

Your other issue is that the outer sections should be flat or you will be chasing your dinner ware all around the table. If you can't flatten them by hand with a hand plane, take them to a cabinet shop with a wide belt sander and they will make them dead flat for a nominal fee. I've had table tops done for $40.00 and around 20 minutes or so shop time.

The church pews I own have a very curved back and would not lend themselves to making a table top. Yours must be different. Got any photos of the parts and pieces?

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; 11-25-2017 at 04:49 PM.
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