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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I recently made plans to replace the table top of a dining room table for a customer. They want it aproximately 7ft long by 40 inches wide and somewhere between 1.5 - 2 inches in depth. I had initially suggested using a biscuit glue up of solid white oak 2x6's or 2x8's, but I would also like to explore any other potential options available. The customer would prefer not to have any seam marks on the table top and I was wondering if some kind of a high grade hardwood plywood build would be suitable?

I will also be staining and finishing it.

I am relatively new to furniture building so any input is greatly appreciated, Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That's kinda what i'm leaning towards, but is plywood a good idea when it comes to table tops? Do you think edge banding would work on the edges or should i go with something thicker? is edge banding even available in 2" width?
 

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Plywood works fine for table tops. The nuace is that the face veneer is thin, so you need to be careful not to sand through the veneer.

+1 with mdntrdr - use solid edges. It will look better and withstand knocks and dents of daily use better.

You will not be able to make this top without some seams, unless the edges of the plywood are exposed, which will look awful. Better set expectations with the customer. They may not appreciate what it takes to make such a large top.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the fast replies guys.

Only problem I have with solid edges is that the table isn't going to be rectangular, the corners are all approx. 6" radii quarter circles. I'm not exactly sure how to approach cutting these pieces, or attaching them for that matter. Maybe I should try my hand at wood bending?
 

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Scotty D
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Thanks for the fast replies guys.

Only problem I have with solid edges is that the table isn't going to be rectangular, the corners are all approx. 6" radii quarter circles. I'm not exactly sure how to approach cutting these pieces, or attaching them for that matter. Maybe I should try my hand at wood bending?
Radius could be cut/machined from solid stock. :smile:
 

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Thanks for the fast replies guys.

Only problem I have with solid edges is that the table isn't going to be rectangular, the corners are all approx. 6" radii quarter circles. I'm not exactly sure how to approach cutting these pieces, or attaching them for that matter. Maybe I should try my hand at wood bending?

Not good to withhold some important detail.

Do you feel confident in making this table top? Not simple.

The corners will be a big challenge.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm overall pretty confident except for cutting the corners as mentioned, I think I'll use the veneer edge banding as a back up if all other options are out of my comfort zone/skill level.

What do you guys think of steam bending some solid white oak trim?
 

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I believe the corners would be fairly easy. They would just require a large chunk of wood with a good amount of waste. Just take a 2x6 and draw the corner on it and cut it out with a bandsaw or jigsaw. No need to bend or veneer.
 

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I would not use thin iron on veneer edge banding on a table edge. It is bound to tear off. Most hardwood plywood will have seams. Plywood veneers are also very thin and can be damaged quite easily with wear and tear. Quality table tops are made with thick veneers over lesser grade lumber panels. If your customer is picky enough not to want seams, I am guessing they are going to be picky about a lot of other points about the table. Making those radius corners is going to be a challenge. Making them so they don't move after you finish the table will be a real trick. I made an edge banding from 1/8" oak bands, steamed and glued and clamped to a plywood panel to form a top and other parts for a pair of fancy night stands. It was a huge project and I had lots of helpers to help with the glue ups. They were much smaller panels than you are talking about. Here is a picture of the project...
https://mnsawyerswoodworkingandartworks.shutterfly.com/pictures/194

I would make up corner blocks with the radius cut out plus allowance for the thickness of the edgebanding...I would suggest at least 1/8". I steam bent the pieces on that night stand by using wet cloths and a clothes iron. I steamed each corner, one at a time, and then glued and clamped it in place. Then, I worked on the straight run. I was able to use one long piece of banding for those small tops so there was no joints. I don't see how you will make it all the way around the table with one piece. I would use a skived joint, where the ends are tapered and overlapped, to hide and strengthen the joint.

I would make up a large work table to do the glue up on and use blocks outside the table and blocks against the table with wedges driven in to tighten the blocks, instead of trying to clamp across the table...just an idea in my mind at this point.

I think you can see that this is no easy project. You better have your ducks in a row before you start.
 

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Wood Snob
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It sounds strange they would request "no seams" on a top that clearly has to have "seams". My guess is they are not talking about glue joints. I'd get a little more info.

I wouldn't consider using plywood for the top. Unless your doing some kind of veneer inlay design.

Also the corner detail sounds strange too. I don't think I have ever seen that on a table top.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The glue up is sounding a lot easier now, haha.
Thank you NMsawyer and everyone, that helps put things in perspective a bit more.

Sorry to make it sound complicated, I just mean the corners are round not pointed. But the customer just wants the top to look like one single piece as much as possible, I assumed plywood would have this effect more so then the glued up boards. I'm sure this also depends on the skill of the person doing the glue up.

"Quality table tops are made with thick veneers over lesser grade lumber panels."

Is this method preferred to a solid glue up? Is it easier or just less expensive materials wise? Am I to assume you would use edge banding in this method aswell?
 

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Unwin171 said:
The glue up is sounding a lot easier now, haha.
Thank you NMsawyer and everyone, that helps put things in perspective a bit more.

Sorry to make it sound complicated, I just mean the corners are round not pointed. But the customer just wants the top to look like one single piece as much as possible, I assumed plywood would have this effect more so then the glued up boards. I'm sure this also depends on the skill of the person doing the glue up.

"Quality table tops are made with thick veneers over lesser grade lumber panels."

Is this method preferred to a solid glue up? Is it easier or just less expensive materials wise? Am I to assume you would use edge banding in this method aswell?
Have you given them the option to use plywood? It will have more seams than glue up. If someone commissioned me to build a table, plywood wouldn't be an option. The worse grade of veneer is rotary cut. It's the only way I can think of making it seemless. Your corners will be a nightmare. Yes yes it can be done, but this is yet another reason plywood isnt the best method.

Sorry if I'm beating a dead horse here. I'd ask them to explain more about the seams. Maybe they mean not to look like butcher block.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 

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+1 for making sure your customer understands the options and difficulties. As for no seams, trees in general do not yield 40" wide boards and that limitation applies to veneers as well. The surface of rotary cut ply is not usually very attractive - it is cut against the grain so no surprises there.

For the edges, I'd go with cut out curves rather than bent unless you have loads of experience. Iron-on veneer will peel off in time, dont risk it !
 

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I can't really give you a factual answer on why tables are made out of lumber core plywood with a thick veneer. My guess would be cost. You have to realize that these tables are made by high end furniture factories that still want to produce real wood furniture at a reasonable price. Making solid wood cherry or walnut tables would by quite expensive. The alternative is to glue up panels of inexpensive hardwood and veneer on specialty wood for the face surface. This also allows for fancy veneer patterns, which could not be done with solid wood. It also allows for the curved corners and other design details. You have to realize that these panels are made either in house or by factories that will glue up panels to the manufacturer's specs. It would be hard to find them for retail sale.

Edge banding is applied, but not the 1/16" iron on kind. Massive machines instantly "weld" the edge banding to the panels. CNC machines mill the rounded corners and cut the edge banding to exact shape to fit those corners. Yes, these operations can be done in a small shop with lots of ingenuity and jigs, and usually with lots of tool and woodworking experience to fall back on. It would be worth your time to tour a furniture shop, even if you have to travel a few hundred miles to get to one. Most factories are willing to give tours. You will be amazed at what you see and you will learn more in a day than you could from months of e-mails and You Tube videos.

Feel free to keep asking questions here. I am sure we are all eager to keep on helping you.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I haven't given them the option of plywood, at the time I didn't think it was a quality option and you guys have reinforced that. I have discussed what the seams will look like with the customer as far as the glue up, and shown photos of examples, and they are well aware of what it will look like.

I think I'm going to go ahead with the glue up option. I was thinking that rather then getting rid of the existing top and replacing it with the 2 inch thick boards, of perhaps attaching a 1 inch glue up on top of the existing table top and then edge banding with solid wood the edges to hide the old top.

Any thoughts on this?
 

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Unwin171 said:
I haven't given them the option of plywood, at the time I didn't think it was a quality option and you guys have reinforced that. I have discussed the seams with the customer as far as the glue up. They are well aware of what it will look like.
I think I'm going to go ahead with the glue up option,
Well Unwin there's really no reason to reinvent the wheel on this one. Personally I enjoy building tables probably more than about anything. I have found success by doing as much prep as possible mating the pieces before gluing.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 

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Nothing wrong with hardwood plywood for table tops. They make excellent tabletops.They can be available with "A" faces, which are very uniform, and some species will have a choice of the type of cut for the veneer flitches used on the face. For thicknesses, ¾" can be used, or thinner plywoods can be glued to any substrate, like composite boards. You could use veneers that are available in 4x8 sheets, and glue it to plywood, or other substrates, There is a wide variety of veneers available.

Rotary cut plywood will likely not have any flitches (sections of veneer), to make up the width. But a good domestic plywood will have well matched flitches with only a faint line where they are joined. No matter how well you glue on a solid wood edgeband, there will be a visible joint line.

If you use a solid wood glue up, adding a solid wood edgeband all around will captivate the ends of the lumber and restrict the ability to expand and contract. The only other way would be to make breadboard ends with the radiused corners, and edgeband the remaining long edges.






.
 

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I agreed with others who are saying to use a wider solid stock and cut a rounded piece out of that instead of trying to bend. Doesn't sound like bending is within your skill set nor likely the ideal (or simplest) application for this project.

Sounds like this could be a really great learning project, both in your woodworking skills and client relations. Setting client expectations is about the most important in sales!
 

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One thing you have to consider if you put a new top layer over the original table top is the height of the table. Once a dining table goes above 30" tall it feels weird. You may want to lay a scrap of plywood on the table and ask the customer if that height is acceptable before you go with that option.
 
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