Fastening Table Tops - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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Fastening Table Tops

I know when fastening table tops there are a number of ways to do it to allow for wood movement.

In my case I am going to be fastening tops to dressers. I want the back edge of the top to be flush with the back surface of the dresser as these will sit against a wall. There will be an inch overhang on the three remaining sides. There will be front and back stretchers through which the top will be fastened. I want to try to direct any expansion across the width (depth) of the top towards the front of the dresser so that the back edge stays flush with the back of the dresser. I was planning to just screw right up into the bottom of the top through the rear strecther and in front I will do the same but i will make elongated holes in the stretcher to allow for expansion across the grain (depth). of the top.........will this force any expansion to the front as I am hoping and keep the back edge stationary?.....on the sides I plan to use those z-shaped table top fasteners

First of all, does that makes sense? And secondly, will it work?

Last edited by Tom5151; 04-10-2012 at 03:44 PM.
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post #2 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom5151 View Post
. I want the back edge of the top to be flush with the back surface of the dresser as these will sit against a wall. There will be an inch overhang on the three remaining sides. There will be front and back stretchers through which the top will be fastened. I want to try to direct any expansion across the width (depth) of the top towards the front of the dresser so that the back edge stays flush with the back of the dresser. Across the back side of the top I was planning to just screw straight into the bottom of the top up through the back stretcher. For the front I will do the same but i will make elongated holes to allow for expansion across the depth of the top (front to back).........will this force any expansion to the front as I am hoping and keep the back edge stationary?.....on the sides I plan to use those z-shaped table top fasteners

First of all, does that makes sense? And secondly, will it work?
i think your ability to verbicate just passed my ability to imaginate.

as long as the top has expansion / contraction ability ACROSS the grain youll be fine.

no need to make the top flush in the back even if it goes against the wall. you prolly have molding . it will look better if you have it overhang in the back a bit.

build it right or not at all
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post #3 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 05:06 PM
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I don't think you really need to go to all that trouble. Unless the top of the dresser is made of really green wood there is not going to be enough shrinkage to give you any trouble. If the tops are solid wood I would just attach the tops with screws. Just don't use too many screws and don't use glue. If the tops are plywood you can use glue also.
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post #4 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by bob sacamano

no need to make the top flush in the back even if it goes against the wall. you prolly have molding . it will look better if you have it overhang in the back a bit.
I agree with this, it'll put the top against the wall if there's base boards. If your wall isn't straight it'll help everything look better, otherwise the space behind the cabinet will be quite noticeable. But overall it's personal preference and not required by any means.
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post #5 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
I don't think you really need to go to all that trouble. Unless the top of the dresser is made of really green wood there is not going to be enough shrinkage to give you any trouble. If the tops are solid wood I would just attach the tops with screws. Just don't use too many screws and don't use glue. If the tops are plywood you can use glue also.
Hi Steve,

thank you.

There are either going to be full 2 inch slabs or glued up 6/4 material planed to 1.25 inches thick......either way the wood will be good and dry
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post #6 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 05:22 PM
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It's already been mentioned, but it's not ply is it? Ply has no E&C to worry about.

If it's solid wood, I'll assume the grain runs side to side... Wood get wider and narrower when it moves, it never gets long or shorter. That said putting design aspects aside, to accomplish exactly what you want to do the back edge needs no slotting whatsoever. The front edge would be slotted in a front to back direction.

That help?

...build n burn - live n learn...
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post #7 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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It's already been mentioned, but it's not ply is it? Ply has no E&C to worry about.

If it's solid wood, I'll assume the grain runs side to side... Wood get wider and narrower when it moves, it never gets long or shorter. That said putting design aspects aside, to accomplish exactly what you want to do the back edge needs no slotting whatsoever. The front edge would be slotted in a front to back direction.

That help?

...build n burn - live n learn...
sure does...thank you sir......that's what I used a lot more words to try to describe exactly....lol.........your words sound much better....thanks.....
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post #8 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 06:09 PM
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There is a possibility that there won't be any movement if the furniture is acclimated, and resides in a constant environment. For a maintained level of moisture and temperature, it could remain stable. If there are changes in the MC is when the E&C can be problematic.

To have the movement forward, screwing the back edge would conceivably afford the expansion forward. Many production furniture pieces are flush in the back (to sit against the wall). I would install front to back rails (laid flat) on the ends under the top. You would slot holes (front to back) to allow movement. And as Tom pointed out front to back slotted holes on a front rail.

I'm suggesting the sides in addition to the front because furniture gets moved and handled. The top may be grabbed, and being fastened on the sides, would provide some holding strength to not pull out the front and rear screws. They will also provide a slight aid to keeping the top flat.






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post #9 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 06:22 PM
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"There is a possibility that there won't be any movement if the furniture is acclimated, and resides in a constant environment. For a maintained level of moisture and temperature"


In a perfect world that would be the case, however the RH in a home changes with the seasons. Spring is higher than summer and winter can be super dry.
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post #10 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 06:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cabinetman
I'm suggesting the sides in addition to the front because furniture gets moved and handled. The top may be grabbed, and being fastened on the sides, would provide some holding strength to not pull out the front and rear screws. They will also provide a slight aid to keeping the top flat.
.
Your right about that, that was an oversight on my part not mentioning that. I would do the same especially on large pieces of furniture that have the potential of being moved while loaded down with 100 lbs of clothes or who knows what else.
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post #11 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 06:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TylerJones View Post
"There is a possibility that there won't be any movement if the furniture is acclimated, and resides in a constant environment. For a maintained level of moisture and temperature"


In a perfect world that would be the case, however the RH in a home changes with the seasons. Spring is higher than summer and winter can be super dry.
I doubt I live in a perfect world, but outside it could be 50% in the morning, and 95% in the afternoon. The RH in the house stays about 45-50% all year 'round with A/C. I don't have any E&C problems with the woodwork.









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post #12 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 07:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all gentlemen.

These dresseres will be in an environment where the RH does fluctuate quite a bit seasonally.

C-man I am wondering if on the sides, rather than a rail as you described, I could use those z-shaped fasteners (http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=784). I would still do screws with slots on front edge and with no slots on back edge....

Thoughts?
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post #13 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 08:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom5151
Thank you all gentlemen.

These dresseres will be in an environment where the RH does fluctuate quite a bit seasonally.

C-man I am wondering if on the sides, rather than a rail as you described, I could use those z-shaped fasteners (http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=784). I would still do screws with slots on front edge and with no slots on back edge....

Thoughts?
You asked C-man but I'll share my though on that anyway. Z-clips are fine for small decorative tables but in my opinion they are not substantial enough for anything larger than a coffee table.

Just my opinion.
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post #14 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 08:36 PM
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You asked C-man but I'll share my though on that anyway. Z-clips are fine for small decorative tables but in my opinion they are not substantial enough for anything larger than a coffee table.

Just my opinion.
+1. I agree. Those side rails perform other functions as well. They can stiffen the tops of the end panels (I don't know what they are/will be, so that's a general statement). If made wide enough, can act as a gusset in the front and rear corners to counteract racking and twisting.

When fabricating a cabinet like that, it will get moved around quite a bit before it is finally done. It will be stood up, laid on its back, on its side, etc. It's framework should be structurally able to withstand those kinds of movements.






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post #15 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 11:37 PM Thread Starter
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Got it...thank you again guys....rails it wil be.....
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post #16 of 28 Old 04-10-2012, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by cabinetman View Post
There is a possibility that there won't be any movement if the furniture is acclimated, and resides in a constant environment. For a maintained level of moisture and temperature, it could remain stable. If there are changes in the MC is when the E&C can be problematic.

To have the movement forward, screwing the back edge would conceivably afford the expansion forward. Many production furniture pieces are flush in the back (to sit against the wall). I would install front to back rails (laid flat) on the ends under the top. You would slot holes (front to back) to allow movement. And as Tom pointed out front to back slotted holes on a front rail.

I'm suggesting the sides in addition to the front because furniture gets moved and handled. The top may be grabbed, and being fastened on the sides, would provide some holding strength to not pull out the front and rear screws. They will also provide a slight aid to keeping the top flat.









.

quick follow up question

I am going to rabbet the top edges of the side panels to receive the front and back stretchers (left to right). I plan to make them about 3 inches wide from 3/4 material........should I just attach the side rails to the sides and fit them between the front and back stretchers? I am thinking that's pretty much the only way to do that.......
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post #17 of 28 Old 04-11-2012, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Tom5151 View Post
quick follow up question

I am going to rabbet the top edges of the side panels to receive the front and back stretchers (left to right). I plan to make them about 3 inches wide from 3/4 material........should I just attach the side rails to the sides and fit them between the front and back stretchers? I am thinking that's pretty much the only way to do that.......
Here's how I prepare the parts.

I rabbet the top of the ends 3/4" deep, 1/4" wide, front to back.

The front and rear rails sit in the rabbet, and are flush to the top of the ends.

The top inside edges (at the ends) of the front & rear rails are rabbeted 1/4" deep, 3/4" wide, for a bit over 3" to accept the side rails which have a corresponding rabbet on the underside of the ends to fit into the front and rear rails.

I dry fit the front and rear rails and measure for the side rails to be a tight fit.

IOW, the rails are running around the whole opening, and their top faces are all flush. The end rails sit into the rabbet on the edges of the F&R rails. I use glue, and for that width, I use a staple to hold things in place, and then 2" screws countersunk to fasten. I add a clamp to where the side rails meet the front & rear rails.

I machine all the parts first, then assembly is done of all the parts.






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Last edited by cabinetman; 04-11-2012 at 05:25 AM. Reason: Added info about clamps
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post #18 of 28 Old 04-11-2012, 10:19 AM Thread Starter
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Here's how I prepare the parts.

I rabbet the top of the ends 3/4" deep, 1/4" wide, front to back.

The front and rear rails sit in the rabbet, and are flush to the top of the ends.

The top inside edges (at the ends) of the front & rear rails are rabbeted 1/4" deep, 3/4" wide, for a bit over 3" to accept the side rails which have a corresponding rabbet on the underside of the ends to fit into the front and rear rails.

I dry fit the front and rear rails and measure for the side rails to be a tight fit.

IOW, the rails are running around the whole opening, and their top faces are all flush. The end rails sit into the rabbet on the edges of the F&R rails. I use glue, and for that width, I use a staple to hold things in place, and then 2" screws countersunk to fasten. I add a clamp to where the side rails meet the front & rear rails.

I machine all the parts first, then assembly is done of all the parts.









.
So I am sure I am not using the correct term but I think what you are describing is a kind of lapped rabbet joint?......ends up looking like a rectangular picture frame.....

So the top is fastened to the rails and essentially the rails are glued into the rabbet at the top edge of the sides. So really the top/rail assembly is being held onto the sides by that that glue joint. Is that stout enough to withstand the dresser being moved or lifted by the top?
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post #19 of 28 Old 04-11-2012, 10:37 AM
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So I am sure I am not using the correct term but I think what you are describing is a kind of lapped rabbet joint?......ends up looking like a rectangular picture frame.....
The only places that there is a "lap" so to speak is where the rails on the ends "lap" onto the rabbet on the edge of the F&B rails.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom5151 View Post
So the top is fastened to the rails and essentially the rails are glued into the rabbet at the top edge of the sides. So really the top/rail assembly is being held onto the sides by that that glue joint. Is that stout enough to withstand the dresser being moved or lifted by the top?
The top rails not only are glued, but I tack fasten with a staple to keep everything in place, then I pilot/countersink 2" screws. Yes, it's stout. I can carry the cabinet by those rails.






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post #20 of 28 Old 04-11-2012, 10:44 AM Thread Starter
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The only places that there is a "lap" so to speak is where the rails on the ends "lap" onto the rabbet on the edge of the F&B rails.



The top rails not only are glued, but I tack fasten with a staple to keep everything in place, then I pilot/countersink 2" screws. Yes, it's stout. I can carry the cabinet by those rails.









.
okay...got the "lap" part

so i am picturing a top view looking down on the dresser from above...the rail asembly sits in the rabbet on the side panels...that joint is glued and stapled.....but the screw part is throwing me because with 1/4 wide rabbet there doesn't seem to be too much to screw into.
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