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post #1 of 37 Old 11-26-2011, 12:10 PM Thread Starter
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Leveling a table top...

Rookie woodworker here.

I just finished a table top for a sofa table I am building. The top consists of three pieces of pine that are 6" wide by 5'10" long.

They are currently joined by wood glue and I have not yet added the cross pieces underneath that will help keep everything together.

My issue is that my 3 pieces of pine aren't perfect. Now that they are joined, the top is not flat where the seems meet. There are slight height differences because the wood is slightly bowed.

Is there a way to level the top? Is using a planer a good idea?

I also am putting bakers ends on the table and there are slight length differences that make it difficult to add the ends? Is it okay to run the 3 joined pieces through a table saw to make sure everything is even?

Sorry if I confused everyone. My lingo and terminology is not that great yet.
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post #2 of 37 Old 11-26-2011, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtred9 View Post
Rookie woodworker here.

I just finished a table top for a sofa table I am building. The top consists of three pieces of pine that are 6" wide by 5'10" long.

They are currently joined by wood glue and I have not yet added the cross pieces underneath that will help keep everything together.

My issue is that my 3 pieces of pine aren't perfect. Now that they are joined, the top is not flat where the seems meet. There are slight height differences because the wood is slightly bowed.

Is there a way to level the top? Is using a planer a good idea?

I also am putting bakers ends on the table and there are slight length differences that make it difficult to add the ends? Is it okay to run the 3 joined pieces through a table saw to make sure everything is even?

Sorry if I confused everyone. My lingo and terminology is not that great yet.
You might first try using a card scraper to level the joint. The problem with that is that once the joint is level the high board has to be taken down to the lower board without leaving a gulley in the board.

You could try sanding with a large block sander made from sanding belts for a hand held belt sander.

If you have experience with a hand plane, that would be your best bet. Once glued together, you can pass it through a table saw, providing the edge you're using against the fence first is square to the boards.

You have to be careful not to secure the boards from underneath as you describe. The boards will expand and contract across the grain, so any supports should have slotted holes to allow for that.








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post #3 of 37 Old 11-26-2011, 05:34 PM
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this is a common question here

Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtred9 View Post
Rookie woodworker here.

I just finished a table top for a sofa table I am building. The top consists of three pieces of pine that are 6" wide by 5'10" long.

They are currently joined by wood glue and I have not yet added the cross pieces underneath that will help keep everything together.

My issue is that my 3 pieces of pine aren't perfect. Now that they are joined, the top is not flat where the seems meet. There are slight height differences because the wood is slightly bowed.

Is there a way to level the top? Is using a planer a good idea?

I also am putting bakers ends on the table and there are slight length differences that make it difficult to add the ends? Is it okay to run the 3 joined pieces through a table saw to make sure everything is even?

Sorry if I confused everyone. My lingo and terminology is not that great yet.
There is a recommended procedure for gluing and clamping to minimize offsets at the "seams" or joints

Wood that is cupped or curved will result in glue up issues.

After the fact advice on how to fix it is all we can do at this point. The boards are long to start with so you can expect some differences in that amount of length. You can "fix' the problem by hand planing and sanding or a combination. This is a difficult project to get perfect even with years of experience it rarely comes out with no sanding required. bill

If you want to crosscut the boards to make them even a circular saw hand held will be the best/easiest way. Cross cutting long boards like those on a table saw requires good support to the left and an accurate miter gauge that fits the slot well.

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; 11-26-2011 at 05:38 PM.
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post #4 of 37 Old 11-26-2011, 05:59 PM
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To flatten long wide glueups like this I would use a belt sander or a random orbit sander. Be careful with the belt sander as it can leave gouges. My way of sanding it flat is, with coarse sandpaper, sand from one end of project to the other crossgrain, then at a diagonal back the other way. The next time go the diagonal the other way, then with the grain on next pass. Just keep repeating this regimin until it's flat, then using finer grain papers, finishb.
sanding with the grain only.
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post #5 of 37 Old 11-26-2011, 06:04 PM
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This six foot oak countertop is 24 inches wide. I did this one and another just like it with this method
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post #6 of 37 Old 11-26-2011, 08:34 PM
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Do you have a hand plane? I'd recommend going at it with a 6 or 7 then sanding.

For the future though consider edge and face jointing boards prior to the glue up, be it hand jointing or with a power jointer.

As for your comments in the OP. Do not glue cauls across the bottom, it will cause cupping when the wood moves... and it WILLA MOVE. Same goes for the bread board ends. They CAN NOT be glued, look up sliding dovetail bread board ends if you really want to go that route.

~tom ...it's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt...
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post #7 of 37 Old 11-26-2011, 08:49 PM
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I've not tried hand planes yet myself. I've wanted to. I recently bought a used scrub plane, it needs some work. Then I want to get a smoothing plane, right? I'll have to learn.
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post #8 of 37 Old 11-26-2011, 08:56 PM
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No place for a scrub plane on this one at this point. I'm sorry to say, but even a buck bro no 5 from home depot + 3 hrs of tuning is usable for this.

Check eBay for a No 5-7 plane for a decent price. Don't pay more than $30 with shipping for a 5 and $50 for a 6. May take time but that's all they worth. I did pay $70 for the 7 I have but I could have done better! I'm just a one short of having 2-9 but find that I use my No 4&6 the most.

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post #9 of 37 Old 11-27-2011, 07:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtred9 View Post
Rookie woodworker here.

I just finished a table top for a sofa table I am building. The top consists of three pieces of pine that are 6" wide by 5'10" long.

They are currently joined by wood glue and I have not yet added the cross pieces underneath that will help keep everything together.

My issue is that my 3 pieces of pine aren't perfect. Now that they are joined, the top is not flat where the seems meet. There are slight height differences because the wood is slightly bowed.

Is there a way to level the top? Is using a planer a good idea?

I also am putting bakers ends on the table and there are slight length differences that make it difficult to add the ends? Is it okay to run the 3 joined pieces through a table saw to make sure everything is even?

Sorry if I confused everyone. My lingo and terminology is not that great yet.
Pine works really easy, to level and smooth.

If you are new to this, hand planes and card scrapers with this project will be a good start, but it is important to note that each have their secrets and need skill. So this is going to take some practice and training, research or coaching. If this is what you want to do, have at it.

If I can help, this is the advice I will offer a new woodworker.

1.) Allow for the worst possible condition to fix this top to its base frame, being expansion/contraction of up to 1.2% across the grain. Grain length wise is not an issue. This means on a top of say 36" wide you have to allow for 7/16" movement, or almost 1/2"

2.) There are many ways to accomplish the above, if you need more let me know and I can post some pictures.

3.) Before you try and level the top, fix it to its base frame, the right way as mentioned above, then start the leveling process.

4.) To even the top on a table saw will take some skill and careful handling if it is over 5' long as you say in your original post and 18" wide. Try and use a straight edge and a portable circular saw. You can get a good one for around $70.

5.) As mentioned earlier, if you want to level the top with hand planes and scrapers after fixing it to its base, go for it. The other alternative is using a straight edge and either a random oribital sander, or a belt sander. The latter is faster but also takes a bit of experience, as using too course a grit can cause the ends to dig in, leaving little valleys, especially with Pine. Using a finer grit will help though.

6.) Doing breadboard ends will again need a straight edge and a router, or alternatively, you can use a shoulder plane, again the latter needing somewhat of experience, not my recommendation for someone new to this.

Some good advice already offered by the other posters.

Good luck, let us know how you are progressing.
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post #10 of 37 Old 11-28-2011, 08:15 AM Thread Starter
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My top is still sitting in my garage clamped on my work bench.

I am a little nervous about attaching the under-support structure as I don't fully understand joints yet or wood movement. Unfortunately, my only tools are a jig saw, table saw, and some various hand tools, so not sure how to attach the ends or the under-support without issue.

Any suggestions on things to read or watch to help me do this project?

I think I am going to use the hand plane to level things out, but want to get the under-support attached first as suggested.

Thanks for all the help and looking forward to your suggestions. I will be honest... Part of me wants to just screw and glue and see how the wood reacts. But, not sure how long until I would need to be building another sofa table!!

;-)
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post #11 of 37 Old 11-28-2011, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtred9
My top is still sitting in my garage clamped on my work bench.

I am a little nervous about attaching the under-support structure as I don't fully understand joints yet or wood movement. Unfortunately, my only tools are a jig saw, table saw, and some various hand tools, so not sure how to attach the ends or the under-support without issue.

Any suggestions on things to read or watch to help me do this project?

I think I am going to use the hand plane to level things out, but want to get the under-support attached first as suggested.

Thanks for all the help and looking forward to your suggestions. I will be honest... Part of me wants to just screw and glue and see how the wood reacts. But, not sure how long until I would need to be building another sofa table!!

;-)
Do not fix it to any sort of base yet. Place it in a large flat work area and go at it, set aside while you build your base and then check it again for level.

Have you decided on a plan for the base yet? Have you looked into mounting options?... Buttons or Z-clips?

~tom ...it's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt...
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post #12 of 37 Old 11-28-2011, 08:54 AM
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post #13 of 37 Old 11-28-2011, 08:58 AM
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I'm all for taking the steps to allow for E&C. But, remember, that in most cases, interior wood furniture finds a spot and stays pretty much put. There (in most cases) won't be swings of moisture levels or temperature that would take its toll.








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post #14 of 37 Old 11-28-2011, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WillemJM
The author of that article is obviously not a traditionalist. While some of the information is good, the idea of attaching one side with pocket screws is ridiculous. Attaching the ends and still allowing wood movement is far superior! After all, where do you lift a table at to move it? What would happen on a dining table attached only on one side with pocket screws when two men lift it from each end???

And furthermore stating that pocket screws are the oldest form of attaching table tops is straight up blasphemy! Does the author think that tables were invented after screws? really? What it written by an employee of Kregg?

~tom ...it's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt...
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post #15 of 37 Old 11-28-2011, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by firemedic View Post
The author of that article is obviously not a traditionalist. While some of the information is good, the idea of attaching one side with pocket screws is ridiculous. Attaching the ends and still allowing wood movement is far superior! After all, where do you lift a table at to move it? What would happen on a dining table attached only on one side with pocket screws when two men lift it from each end???
+1.

Quote:
Originally Posted by firemedic View Post
And furthermore stating that pocket screws are the oldest form of attaching table tops is straight up blasphemy! Does the author think that tables were invented after screws? really? What it written by an employee of Kregg?









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post #16 of 37 Old 11-28-2011, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by firemedic View Post
The author of that article is obviously not a traditionalist. While some of the information is good, the idea of attaching one side with pocket screws is ridiculous. Attaching the ends and still allowing wood movement is far superior! After all, where do you lift a table at to move it? What would happen on a dining table attached only on one side with pocket screws when two men lift it from each end???

And furthermore stating that pocket screws are the oldest form of attaching table tops is straight up blasphemy! Does the author think that tables were invented after screws? really? What it written by an employee of Kregg?

~tom ...it's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt...
LOL, I found it through Google and being Fine-Woodworking thought it would be good. I did not read all the details, just did a quick scan. Will go look again.

Don't want to start another debate, but pocket screws will never fine their way into my shop. Not for me.
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post #17 of 37 Old 11-28-2011, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by cabinetman View Post
I'm all for taking the steps to allow for E&C. But, remember, that in most cases, interior wood furniture finds a spot and stays pretty much put. There (in most cases) won't be swings of moisture levels or temperature that would take its toll.











.
It depends if you are building your piece for tomorrow, or for a few lifetimes.

My dad was not too good with allowing for E&C and some of what he made has travelled through three countries and four states with me over the years. Being shipped by container over the ocean, some cracks did appear. These were all corporate moves, using expensive company paid shippers. Also, some countries temperatures do not vary more than between 55F in winter to 85F in summer, so air conditioning is not needed. You can end up with huge humidity swings during season changes in these circumstances.

You are right, in most US states the swings are small and the finish slow things down, so it is generally not an issue.
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post #18 of 37 Old 11-28-2011, 08:50 PM
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It depends if you are building your piece for tomorrow, or for a few lifetimes.
My statement had the words "In most cases".

Quote:
Originally Posted by WillemJM View Post
You are right, in most US states the swings are small and the finish slow things down, so it is generally not an issue.
It would be an issue if the furniture was outdoor. In South Florida, it could be 50% RH at noon, and 100% 3 hours later. So, the "most US states" comment doesn't apply across the board. But, we are talking about inside a residence, and I'm assuming that it's air conditioned. At least all of my clients have and can afford to run A/C all year 'round.

I don't need a sermon about allowing for E&C. I'm all for it.





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post #19 of 37 Old 11-28-2011, 09:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtred9
My top is still sitting in my garage clamped on my work bench.

I am a little nervous about attaching the under-support structure as I don't fully understand joints yet or wood movement. Unfortunately, my only tools are a jig saw, table saw, and some various hand tools, so not sure how to attach the ends or the under-support without issue.

Any suggestions on things to read or watch to help me do this project?

I think I am going to use the hand plane to level things out, but want to get the under-support attached first as suggested.

Thanks for all the help and looking forward to your suggestions. I will be honest... Part of me wants to just screw and glue and see how the wood reacts. But, not sure how long until I would need to be building another sofa table!!

;-)
Back to the original topic here, check out this thread: http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f2/ta...inology-30386/

The book suggested there is an excellent book for touching on all the ins and outs of furniture design / components.

~tom ...it's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt...
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post #20 of 37 Old 11-30-2011, 11:06 AM Thread Starter
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Willem, you said you had some suggestions on attaching the top to the carcase? Hopefully I am using that term correctly. Right now I am thinking of slotting the apron and using z clips... that seems easiest.

At this point, if I were to remove the clamps from my top, would the piece be strong enough to sustain itself as one piece? All I did was glue using Gorilla Glue. Basically it is flat surface glued to flat surface. Do I need to do anything else to secure the 3 top pieces together?

Since I want a rustic, western look, I am thinking of planing the top and then sanding, hoping it comes out a little imperfect.

Going to pick that book up today at lunch that was suggested in the other thread.
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