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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Edit: Project's (finally) finished Radial butcher block table, thanks for the help everyone!

Hi All,

I'm planning to build a round 'butcher block' style dining room table. It will be 5 feet in diameter, and just to make life interesting I plan to join the staves radially instead of the standard parallel assembly you see on counter-tops. I've attached a sketch of the assembly.

The individual pieces will be 1" inch wide, 1 1/4" thick, and range from 30" in length to 10" at the edge.

My main concern is wood movement potentially cracking the joints. I will probably drill a 1" hole in the center to allow the table to expand and contract with the seasons, but I am not sure if that will be enough to prevent splitting long-term.

I've toyed with the idea of drilling pin-holes where the shorter staves slot between the longer ones to allow further 'room to breath' but would like to avoid drilling more holes in the tabletop if possible.

What do you guys think? Is there a way to manage the wood movement in this type of project or is it doomed to split?

Best,
 

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It's an interesting question. I've never done or seen anything like that made with solid wood, usually it would be veneered, presumably due to movement issues. I could not say one way or another with any certainty. I've seen constructions where people were sure it would do this or that, and they didn't. If you're going to do it though, I would have 2 suggestions, which you may already know. (I am guessing that due to the complexity of the design and the precision required that you are an experienced woodworker, but you never know)



First, try to have all the pieces be edge grain, or quartersawn. As most movement occurs across the face of the grain, quartersawn will help reduce the amount of movement across the table top.


Second, the temperature and humidity in the room where this piece will live should be as stable as possible, year 'round. That will also help reduce the factors that cause movement.


Otherwise, good luck.
 

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radial wood movement .......

Typically, with parallel planks glued up together, the movement is across the grain. With the pieces being radially glued up, the movement will be uniformly distributed around the circumference. Each piece is small so there will be every little movement on each piece. So, I don't think there will really be much of an issue, but that's just my opinion.

The only radially sectioned table I'm familiar with is this one:
http://waterfront-woods.com/


http://waterfront-woods.com/Projects/schannotablediscussion.htm


http://www.waterfront-woods.com/Projects/RoundTable/TableBlog.html


:vs_cool:
 

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I would think it would destroy itself. The circumference is like a glued up cross grain of 188". I think it would move quite a lot. Not to mention the different amounts of movement as it moves at lesser diameters in your glue up. Although quarter sawn lessens seasonal wood movement, it doesn't eliminate it.
 

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I don't see this .....

I would think it would destroy itself. The circumference is like a glued up cross grain of 188". I think it would move quite a lot. Not to mention the different amounts of movement as it moves at lesser diameters in your glue up. Although quarter sawn lessens seasonal wood movement, it doesn't eliminate it.

You can't stack all the dimensions in a straight line. They are moving simultaneously and in unison. It's like centrifugal force on a rotating wheel, it will expand or contract at the same rate..... just my WAG "theory' ...
 

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Interesting concept, no idea about expansion, could have an argument either way, my concern is that you don't see many tables of that design, either they are just too difficult to make or they are not known to be stable. Something I would definitely do a bit of research on from reliable sources before fitting all those parts together.
 

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You won't have a problem the way you're doing it. I don't think considering the cumulative miniscule movement in a 1" wide board.



Obviously if the table has larger wedges of solid lumber then there would be a problem. Unless, of course the boards are oriented so the long grain goes the shorter distance.



They are veneered they've been doing them like that for hundreds of years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Interesting concept, no idea about expansion, could have an argument either way, my concern is that you don't see many tables of that design, either they are just too difficult to make or they are not known to be stable. Something I would definitely do a bit of research on from reliable sources before fitting all those parts together.
I've tried quite a few experienced wood workers in my area and unfortunately no one really seems to have a confident answer either way (which is why I am reaching out here :smile2:). I'm pretty sure having a solid table top done this way would destroy itself, even quarter sawn staves would move enough to put a lot of pressure on the center. But I 'think' drilling out the center itself should let it 'breath': the movement would be 90 degrees to the radius, which would just cause the table to dilate... I hope...

Wouldn't mind some feedback before embarking on this though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Typically, with parallel planks glued up together, the movement is across the grain. With the pieces being radially glued up, the movement will be uniformly distributed around the circumference. Each piece is small so there will be every little movement on each piece. So, I don't think there will really be much of an issue, but that's just my opinion.

The only radially sectioned table I'm familiar with is this one:

:vs_cool:
Thanks for the advice! I do think that the movement would be enough to cause problems if the center was fixed. But I'm hoping to avoid that by drilling out the center.

I had looking into some of these tables. beautiful stuff, but they use veneers while I was hoping for the solid wood effect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You can't stack all the dimensions in a straight line. They are moving simultaneously and in unison. It's like centrifugal force on a rotating wheel, it will expand or contract at the same rate..... just my WAG "theory' ...
Actually I agree with gmercer on this one. its not quite like a rotating wheel since the pieces don't 'want' to be longer. The movement is along the width of the piece - pushing the staves appart - but pushing them apart then stretches them lengthwise which is where it would get hairy. I thing the center would pull itself appart without a hole drilled through, but not sure if it would be enough
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You can't stack all the dimensions in a straight line. They are moving simultaneously and in unison. It's like centrifugal force on a rotating wheel, it will expand or contract at the same rate..... just my WAG "theory' ...
I agree that wood movement will probably be minimal.


What I want to hear, after you are complete, is how many swear words you used when cutting all of those little triangles.


George
I'll keep a tally going :)
Though to be honest I think the real profanity will be when I clamp this monstrosity up.

Will post photos once it's done, but that may be a while
 

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Are you good at Trig?

Actually I agree with gmercer on this one. its not quite like a rotating wheel since the pieces don't 'want' to be longer. The movement is along the width of the piece - pushing the staves apart - but pushing them apart then stretches them lengthwise which is where it would get hairy. I thing the center would pull itself apart without a hole drilled through, but not sure if it would be enough

I hear what you are saying, BUT the opposite side and hypotenuse of the triangle which "may" change dimensions is the factor. With pieces that aren't very wide, I don't envision that being a very great issue. There will be no change in the lengths, only across very small widths, so again, I don't see any issues. Build it we will have another conversation..... :vs_OMG:
 

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My problem is that as far as I can see there is no difference between the sum of the movement of several narrow boards and that of one wide board equal to the combined width of the group.

There appears to be a lot of work involved, most similar designs are veneered, and so far all you have got is "I can't see why nots", no one is speaking from experience, so take the advice for what it is worth, it may be okay, maybe not and you have the only horse in the race.
 

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Interesting thoughts on the subject.
Im thinking, that during the shrinking season the boards could split apart.
During the expansion season, since everything is radial, the top would compress itself. This would force it to squeeze and expand in the longitudinal direction, so, like others here, I dunno. Someone mentioned that the individual pieces weren't that big so expansion would be minimal. I disagree with that because when they are glued up, it will act like one big board. However, it might be able to survive it all with no problem at all.
Me personally, I would not invest that kind of time to build it and just wait to see what happens.
Do we have any structural engineers here????????????????
 

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we have to agree that expansion and contraction will take place. because the pieces are small and glued at angles will not keep it from happening, or make it less. IF i were a betting man, i'd bet the farm it will have issues (ones almost impossible to fix)- much dependent on the climate and atmosphere it is located in over time.

i am in the camp of a stable substrate and veneering the top - it will still be a challenge and have beautiful results.
 

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Every once in a while someone comes along with a “new woodworking design” that has no precedent in existing examples.

I think the reason for that is because whatever you can dream up has already been tried by true craftsmen in centuries past, and they were not able to overcome the limitations of wood movement any more than you can.

The reasons you can’t find a two hundred, or five hundred year old example of a similar table is not because someone didn’t try to build one, it’s because the table didn’t survive.

There is good reason to build something like this on a plywood base with thinner veneers. I think it would make it easier as well. You could lay out the design on plywood and cut the wood strips to fit. You could probably use wood strips up to 5/16 thick and make this work. Two or three layers of plywood building the table thickness, lay out the design, cut the wood and fill the design, then route a smooth round table at the end, putting edge banding around the entire table.
 
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