Newbie question - width of glue-up pieces to make table top

Tonight I start building the "Limbert Tabourette" featured in 11/03 Pop. Woodworking. This table has to surfaces, one 16" round and one 10.5" square.
Of course I am going to have to edge-join several boards together to get that width. My question is what would be an appropriate width to cut the boards for maximum happiness with regard to strength and appearance.
(For instance, a 16" table top made of 2 8" wide pieces may look strange, and a bunch of 3" wide strips will most likely end up looking like a cutting board).
Should I try to have all the "slats" the same width? Why or why not?
This piece will be made of plain-sawn red oak (not the more traditional q-sawn white oak) if that makes a difference.
Thanks for any ideas
Jim Helfer Pittsburgh PA
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Jim Helfer" wrote in message

There is nothing wrong with using two, 8" boards ... although you would do much better to have them total over 16" so that you have some wiggle room for cutting off the excess.

I think you will find that random width's will please the eye and look less like your "cutting board". Normally, I simply match the grain as best I can, without regard to annular ring orientation, using 2 or more, random width, boards.
For a 16" wide table top, I would generally use three or four +/- 6" wide boards totaling around 18" and cut off the excess when done. Among other things, this extra width lets you clamp without worrying about clamp marks.
You shouldn't have a problem with that width, but in the event that you need to run it back through a planer because of a glue-up problem or non-flatness, it is nice to be able to make a single cut where the now two parts are not so wide that they can't be run through your planer individually, then be re-glued, making it necessary to clean up only one glue line.

Shouldn't make any difference.
Got a biscuit jointer? If so, use it for aligning your boards ... biscuits, and good cabinet clamps, make a flat panel glue-up much easier to accomplish.
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Swingman wrote:

Thanks for the advice! Good post.
Jim Helfer Pittsburgh PA
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generally anything over 6" is starting to ask for trouble. there are exceptions of course. Since you are using Red Oak 4" is even better. The major decision on size is your boards. How wide are they, which ones have defects that need to be removed? As to variations in width it will matter greatly on design and aesthetic intentions. If you want to emphasize the "bread board" effect then varying widths and coloration is what you want. If you want it to look solid, then more even widths (although minor variations wont matter.), and even color is your goal, with this remember the grain too. I say this because you may have to cut a board down a bit to get a grain direction that works. also remember because it is round/oval you don't want thin strips at the edge leaving a strip 5-6" long a 1" wide (for instance) really it is largely based on What looks good to you? I can post you pictures of one of my projects if you are curious about panel matching techniques.
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The project I had built last fall called for 4 6-inch boards for a total of 24". I had cut them too early in the process and when it was time to glue them up, they were warped. I re-cut those boards and had other scrap and made 6 4-inch surface. I'm glad I did...the table top looks great.

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Have fun. I just finished up mine last weekend. Was an enjoyable little project, for me.

Dunno how strength plays into this - but I doubt it's much of a factor. Appearance (and convenience) were my two big drivers. My table top was 3 pieces of stock about 6 1/2" wide. My bottom shelf was from two pieces.

So was mine - except for the top. I "splurged" on QSWO for the top.
My finish was a "walnut-is" aniline dye then several coats of Arm-OR-Seal semi-gloss.
Those "captured joints" (not sure what the correct name for them) gave me some trouble. I had to finesse the fit on them several times before I had all four legs snug and level.
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mttt wrote:

I started the other I'm excited.

That's a great idea. I'm going to steal it.

I'm cutting them now. I've already made one cut too deep, I think. Oh well, first time on an unfamiliar tool.
Jim
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I'm sure you are going to get all kinds of advice about maximum and minimum widths, reversing grain, etc. Everyone has their own rule of thumb so I won't bother throwing mine it.
However, I will comment on jointing panels and appearance.
Regardless of what rule of thumb you subscribe too and how wide or narrow the stock being joined is you should, unless it is the look you are after, spend more then a little time laying out your stock for the best match of grain pattern and strive to make the panel looking like it is made up of one board and not have a cutting board appearance.
When you are going to make a panel is to lay the stock out in front of you and spend as much time as is necessary shifting it around, flipping it, matching color, and in general puzzling it together so that that panel looks as much like it is one board as is possible with the stock available, even if it means wasting a little.
Once you have it laid out then you mark it. Some prefer a big triangle, some other type of marks. I favor one line for the first two on the left, two for the other side of the inside board and the board next too it, three for ...etc.
The time spent on this task will pay will pay you back ten fold in the appearance of the finish project. .
-- Mike G. snipped-for-privacy@heirloom-woods.net Heirloom Woods www.heirloom-woods.net

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