A friend has a 80" x 37" cherry table they let several candles burn down on.
It actually burnt out maybe an eight inch of wood. The top is 1 1/4" thick,
but I think sanding the damage out is probably hopeless; presumably the wood
will be discolored deep into it, and it might be 3/8" to find clean wood.
Turning the top over won't work either, as the bottom surface is quite
That leaves ripping the damaged 12" out, putting new boards in, and sanding
The problem is the joinery used. The top is all 2" wide boards that have a
sort of finger joint between them. It is flat for an eight of an inch at
the top and bottom, and then 4 pairs of fingers, each about an eight of an
inch. They are rounded, and project about an eighth of an inch.
Getting an exact match is too much to ask for, but I can't find anything
even close. Any suggestions, either on the cutter or alternate methods? I
will take a router bit, a shaper cutter, or maybe even a molding head for my
How objectionable would it be to use a patch on the places that are
damaged? Like I have seen used by Norm on a couple shows to fix
defects in desktops. He uses a bowtie shaped patch, glued into the
same sized hole routed into the top and then sands it down to be flush.
Like you said, it seems like it would be really tough to match up
finger joints. I think I might try routing down just a little ways in
the area immediately around the burn, then inlaying some similar wood,
and sanding/scraping/planing down to flush. If the bowtie/butterfly
shape mentioned above is too small or wouldn't work decoratively, I'd
be inclined just to use a plain rectangle, possibly directly along the
existing joints between boards. In other words, could you use a
straight bit set 1/4" deep to rout out a section of each burned board,
and inlay new wood?
Or get a table runner, or a nice centerpiece/candle stand that covers
up the marks.
You might want to make an irregular shaped dutchman, it will be easier to
hide. Or, inlet several as decorative features.
irc. There are good instructions in one of Matlack's router books. Mine
are packed away right now so I can't chack and say for sure.
I'm having a little trouble following the rounded finger-joint thing,
but will assume you want a flat top.
You might take to routing the top as follows:
If you have two very flat boards [MDF?] for the router to ride on, you
can rout out all except for some very narrow ridges to support the
boards and router while getting out most of the material, setting the
router the 1/8" below the present top [perhaps 2 passes of 1/16"].
You can remove those ridges close to the new surface by hand with a
sharp chisel. Then sand with a sanding block until happy.
is this a glue up edge joint? Why do you need to match the profile?
Does it extend and become the perimeter edge also? Could you not just
glue it up with biscuits or dowels or just straight glue up?
I'm probably missing something here.
I have a three flute edge bead shaper cutter that cuts 1" that sounds
similar to what you have described. But it is three not four beads,
with a top and bottom flat.
Similar. the outside (top and bottom) flats are slightly deeper
than the flats between the flutes.
cutter, so I doubt there is a reverse or female profile.
If your friend can stand to lose a quarter inch or so all around, you
might just glue in the replacement panels and then put an all new edge
profile on the table with a router beading bit. Seems to me it is
going to be hard to get a really good edge match on the glue up anyway
pre cutting the end on a shaper or molding cutter head.
or a bit cheaper but less flexible
Or if you insist on "rounded":
that has a 3/4" bearing. Would it still work (ie. would the pieces still
mate) with a 1" bearing? If so, it might be close enough.
The finger joint doesn't matter.... simply joint the edges of the remaining
boards (they will have sawn edges based on your plan) and glue in new
Perhaps a bit of archeology is warranted here. Take a carving gouge and
carefully see just how deep the damage is in the wood. One way or another
you are going to remove that section or Dutchman it so the gouge work isn't
hurting anything. You may find the damage is relatively shallow and not
warrant drastic measures.
Personally, with 1 1/4" of solid wood to work with, I'd be inclined to
surface the entire table rather than mess with cutting out the damaged
section. I wouldn't sand it all away though, I'd start with a scrub plane
and work towards a smoother. Completely removing the discoloration isn't
needed as it could be masked in the finishing process.
A few ideas come to mind...
1. If you have access to a wide belt sander, run the whole top through
the sander multiple times till you get down to good wood.
2. Rip the top into widths that will fit through a planer (12"
typically), plane down to good wood, then reglue the top together. Sand
3. If you do not have access to either of the above tools, you may be
able to build a "sled" of sorts to flatten the top with your router and a
straight bit. LOTS of passes back and forth, but it should work in
4. Flip the top over and try any of the above methods. Depending on
whether the top is worse than the bottom, this might be a good option.
5. 80" isn't that long. You should be able to cut out the damaged section
and replace it with a single board.
6. Assuming this section isn't on the edge of the top, the joinery won't
show anyway. Use scarf joints, or slots and splines to join boards
together. Then cut out and replace the damaged section.
7. Depending on the construction of the table, maybe you could just cut
out the damaged section and make the table smaller? For example, 80" x
35". It's unlikely anyone would notice a couple of inches difference.
8. Forget about repairing this top and just build a new one from scratch.
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