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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am making a new dining table and I've hit a hurdle I haven't been able to figure out yet.

The table will be made from plywood cut into strips and put on edge. So the table top will be endgrain of plywood. I think it will look good to stain the pieces different colors. Here is a pic of half the table (to the point I have reached so far) and a small sample of what the finished surface will look like that I mocked up.

So I found 3 sheets of dumpster-diving plywood and cut them into 1.5 x 30" strips. I then drilled two holes in each strip and put a dowel through them to line them up. I have not glued anything yet. So now I need to sand the surface smooth, take it apart, stain the pieces, then glue, reassemble, and put a finish on it. But my problem is once I sand it and take it apart to stain it, when I reassemble the pieces don't line up perfectly anymore. On a table top, slight bumps from misalignment are a problem. I can't stain after assembly as the stain will bleed into neighboring pieces. I have to sand before I stain or else when I sand, the stain will come off (won't penetrate deep enough into the wood).

So I'm looking for ideas. How do i sand this table to a finish, but then take it apart and reassemble it exactly like it was before? I've been stumped for a couple weeks now. Any ideas - good, bad, ridiculous, unreasonable, and laughable - are welcome.

Thanks!
 

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crosseyed & dyslexic
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Maybe don't use glue. Maybe use all thread and run two lengths of that thru the table and put a flat washer and tighten it down with nuts.
Does that make sense?
 

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maker of crooked things
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It looks really cool, (might have to steel that design) yes i will give credit. Anyway if play is the issue lay the top out on the floor so you have a flat surface for the bottom, after sanding put back together on floor for glue up. If its still getting off are you ensuring that you are putting the back in the exact same order and orentation? Also the staining may be causeing swell. Maybe wet sand before diassmbly to pre wet the wood. Just a few ideas
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Maybe don't use glue. Maybe use all thread and run two lengths of that thru the table and put a flat washer and tighten it down with nuts.
Does that make sense?
Makes perfect sense. I didn't fully explain the design - it's actually going to be four triangles assembled to be a square. Similar to this but with the wood running from the center out instead of across. If I use metal threaded rod, I won't be able to cut the initial block into the triangles. That's why i used wooden dowels. It's a great idea though otherwise.

It looks really cool, (might have to steel that design) yes i will give credit. Anyway if play is the issue lay the top out on the floor so you have a flat surface for the bottom, after sanding put back together on floor for glue up. If its still getting off are you ensuring that you are putting the back in the exact same order and orentation? Also the staining may be causeing swell. Maybe wet sand before diassmbly to pre wet the wood. Just a few ideas
Steel away - I read somewhere that creativity is just improving on what the last guy already did. I like that...

Great idea for the wet sanding. I didn't think about the swelling potential. I'll do that for sure. I have numbered each of the pieces so they re-assemble in the same order. Your idea to lay it on the floor gave me an idea - I could create a large, L shaped bracket to lay the pieces in so the sides line up also. I have a few extra strips I could glue up to make that form. The combination of the floor and that form would line up all the surfaces. This could work...
 
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