Basics question: Best way to join table top? Best top dimension?

As I continue planning for my mission-style coffee table, desk, bedroom set, I wonder what is the best way to build the tops. I have a book I picked up at WoodCraft, and it has me just gluing the solid pieces together. A guy at a local tool shop says my solid oak design will crack, and that I should use some kind of laminate with veneer. I object to this idea . . .
If I make the coffee table top using 4 @ 1x6x48 planks, can I simply run the edges over a joiner and glue 'em up? (just like I did with that cutting board back in high school shop class, that has since fallen apart) Or should I add some biscuits or dowels? Or???
The desk and bedroom tables with have tops made of 1x1 oak strips, with the endgrain oriented upward (i.e., quartered). The coffee table will use flat-sawn planks to match the sofa/love seat that we purchased commercially.
As an after thought, the Golden Rule thread has me wondering: is a 24x48 top going to look funky? Following the "rule" would yield 29x48, which I envision to be too wide . . .
Thanks!
Scott
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There is no reason why you can't glue up the panel out of solid oak with no biscuits or dowels and expect it to stay together.
However, assuming the tool guy isn't trying to sell you some tool or other and has even the foggiest notion of what he is talking about, one has to wonder if there isn't something else in the design that you are not telling us about that can cause problem.
As for the golden rectangle, it's a rule (of thumb) not a law, if you think 24" X 48" is what you want and 29" X 48" is to wide, make the damn thing 24" X 48". You aren't going to have the golden rule cops at the door with tape measure and search warrant.
--
Mike G.
snipped-for-privacy@heirloom-woods.net
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<whoop! whoop! whoop!>
then... three loud knocks on the front door.
cautiously, you open the door...
"Officer Snidely, here, sir. We've received a report of a felony on the premises, a violation of penal code 711-ICU812, attempted building of non-standard sized furniture. We have a search warrant granting us the power to search your property for any mission style tables found to have violated the golden rule, which is listed in paragraph one, section 435 of 711-ICU812. Your cooperation in this matter will be taken into account should you wish to lead us to these items. You have the right to remain silent, and anything you say can be held against you in a court of law. Do you understand these rights, as I've explained them to you?"
"I want to call my lawyer..."
dave
Mike G wrote:

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Careful Dave, or else you may hear...... <whoop! whoop! whoop!> Bandwidth Police, here sir...... <G> Our (wannabe)moderators may complain about OT posts again
Bay Area Dave wrote:

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that's ok, Mark, I still have my smart assed comebacks for that eventuality! :)
dave
Mark wrote:

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"Scott" wrote in message

Not necessary for a top as long as you attach it properly. IOW, so that any expansion across the grain can be relieved by unconstricted movement. Figure eight fasteners will work, as well as cleats with slotted screw holes (slots oriented in the direction of wood movement, or across the grain), which are two simple methods. There are other methods also ... for these a good book on woodworking should explanin the most used and practical.

You can certainly do them without biscuits. All but the last few of a dozen or more table tops I've made were done with just glue and no biscuits. However, after trying biscuits just recently for aligning the tops in a perpendicular plane to the biscuit face, I found that a glue up with biscuits, and good clamps, can be just the ticket for getting a flat top much easier ... biscuits are by no means necessary though.
BTW, rip your table top boards random in width if you can ... the top will generally look better that way. Doesn't have to be a radical difference in width. Also, plan your glue-up and do a dry fit beforehand. Try to anticipate any bow and use cauls to preclude that if it appears it will be a problem because of the width. Good clamps, like Bessey, or Gros Stabil's make this much easier.

Function, and what's pleasing to you, should overrule any "rules" .. golden or otherwise. Take most of that discussion with a grain of salt ... it's great if you are designing pieces of "art", but if you are designing a piece of furniture to fit a specific location, let that be a secondary consideration.
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I'm working on the same project, Scott, and I've glued up 8 widths of solid oak for the top, so I certainly hope it doesn't crack! This is 8 boards appx 3.5 in wide for a 28 in wide top. (the actual widths came more out of scrounging usable boards from my low-grade stock than by design).
I used biscuits to help with alignment, and also used 3 sets of panel clamps that I made by copying someone's post here. These work really nice; the more edge clamping pressure, the more clamping pressing along the width of the top holding it flat. If you're interested, these were posted by Kim Whitmyre, you could find them by Googling the group. Or if you can't find it, I could send you a couple pics of mine and describe them.
The only Golden Rule I know is "Do unto others as...."; guess sooner or later I need to learn something about design when I want to make original stuff. I'm working from a plan, and they didn't seem to be following proportions like you mentioned. The plan calls for a 46 long by 36 wide top. This looked odd to me for a coffee table, plus I just don't have enough room for something quite that big, so I made it 28 wide instead, and cut down dimensions and number of side spindles proportionately. My coffee table, my living room. If I'm happy with it then...... well, then I'm happy with it!
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