Using external planer resources

I was talking to a friend who suggested that I take my newly constructed tabletop to the services of a local woodshop for final planing. The logic being that they are equipped to handle objects far far wider than anything I could have as a woodworker and passing my tabletop through the planer one more time would absolutely ensure the tabletop was flat, planar, and minimize any finishing that I would have to do.
Does that seem like decent advice, or are you all thinking "why isn't the finished tabletop perfectly flat to begin with?"
Just for reference the tabletop is created from 4 10" wide pieces and sad to say as this was my first attempt it didn't turn out as well as I expected. It looks as though the finished wood bowed slightly after I had finished it - I'm wondering if the weather changes may have something to do with that? It is for all intents and purposes fall where I live now.
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That is what I'd do. Planer or belt sander. I'm going to build some end tables in the next few months and that is what I plan to do with the tops. Considering my time and money invested, a few more bucks for perfection is well worth it. The top is the most visible part of a table.
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First thing is to find a shop that will do it of course. I'm not in a rush so this can be put on hold if one isn't immediately available. Based on Frank's response it sounds like a belt sander will be it, either way works.
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On Mon, 1 Sep 2008 08:52:13 -0700, "Eigenvector"

How much bow?
You may have a difficult time finding a planer that can handle 40", most top out at 24.
You might find a wide belt sander that can handle the 40"
If it is consistently bowed, you might have trouble cleaning it up without thinning it out too much.
Weather might have something to do with it depending on other factors. Did you alternate the end grain direction on successive individual boards, recommended to control bowing of the overall panel? Did you make sure your jointer/table saw was perfectly 90 degrees when you did your final edge joint? Did you make sure your clamps did not distort the boards when gluing up, setting up a bowed condidtion. These things can cause a bow, often difficult to remove after the fact.
Frank
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wrote:

The bowing isn't horrific, maybe a 1/16th between the 1st and 2nd boards. If it got too hairy I could use putty, as this will be a painted table, not a stained or clear finish - the wood is poplar (it's a mock up table to see whether or not I have sufficient skill to work with more expensive wood).

What? Are you somehow implying that my work is not perfect? I'm insulted!
Eh I suspect the bow came from the clamping myself, but I'll be damned if I know how. I dry fitted the pieces before clamping and I didn't detect any noticable bowing. As for this "Did you alternate the end grain direction on successive individual

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On Mon, 1 Sep 2008 10:57:36 -0700, "Eigenvector"

When you do your glue up, look at the end of each board and the grain will have a circular pattern that corresponds with the growth rings of a tree. If you alternate, that is place first board curve up, second board curve down, it will negate bowing caused by natural changes in humidity by limiting any bowing to the width of a single board and having the next board bow in the opposite direction. If they are all in the same direction it will allow the bowing to be culmulative.
Sometimes this is difficult if the appearance is quite different, one side of the board to the other and grain match is important on a natural or stained finish, but on painted, no problem.
Frank
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"Eigenvector" wrote:

If you want to destroy your top, pick up a belt sander.
Don't think planers come that big.
What you want is a commercial drum sander which will have 48" wide capacity.
My guess it will cost less than $30.00.
BTW, make sure you seal ALL surfaces within 12 hoursif you expect your top to stay flat.
BTDT
Have fun.
Lew
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Sounds like that was my problem. I didn't get around to the glue-up until a week later I had no idea it was that critical.

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