Tabletop questions

Hi there, I'm making an oak coffee table and have a few questions. First off, this is my first real project with solid wood and second, I'm not using a real plan, it's from a picture and my own sketches. I thought I'd get that out of the way so you'll know that I don't know much. What I'm concerned about is wood movement and how to compensate for it. I'll describe it the best I can. The top consist of two long rails going across the length and three short rails across the width. Inside of these rails will be two panels. ____________ l l l l l l l _____l______l
It will look sort of like the crude picture above. The rails are all 4"wide and the panels (3/4" oak, laminated) will be 12" x 16". The overall size will be 3' x 2'.
What is the best way for me to construct this top that will allow for movement? Maybe a tongue & groove where the panels float in the frame? I'm open to any suggestions here and appreciate any help you can pass along.
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BeerBoy



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If I understand you correctly, your design is certainly not a classic construction method for a top, and would be more appropriate for a door or side panel.
That is not bad in itself, because rules are made to be broken ... but in woodworking there is always risk in doing so.
If you're set on it, you can get away with your design much easier, and with less movement issues, if you use 3/4" Oak plywood for the panels instead of wood, particularly if you are looking for a flat table top from edge to edge.
If you don't do that, you might want to consider a solid wood top, and forego all "rails"; or a solid wood top with breadboard ends, and forego your long "rails".
Just my tuppence ...
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www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 9/21/03
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