Wenge Dining Table


Hi everyone,
I am preparing to build a 77" x 45" dining table out of solid Wenge. I am planning on buying 8/4 stock and resawing it to 5/4 for the top. To recycle some of the waste, I plan on gluing some of the resaw remainders together to form new planks that can be used for some of the middle pieces of the table (since from the surface you can't see any seams). The top will be edgeglued planks without any trim or edge rail. So the ends of the table will have exposed grain. I am planning on using a router to put a quarter round edge all the way around (maybe).
Aside from a small 'test' project, I've never worked with Wenge and have a few questions for those more-seasoned woodworkers.
- What sorts of problems should I expect to run into while using this wood? I am aware that it is brittle and splinters easily.
- Will a router be able to put a quarter round across the grain on the ends of the tabletop?
- Will the table still splinter at the ends once a nice finish is applied?
- I'm thinking of possibly spraying on lacquer (if I can find a new local supplier). Are there better alternatives? I'm looking for a satin finish.
- If I surface glue two planks together (remains of resawing 8/4 down to 5/4), and use these for middle pieces of the table, will the glue seam be noticeable on the ends of the table?
- Will Wenge ruin the blades on my thickness planer and jointer?
- Are there recommended techniques for handling this wood to minimize destruction to my tools? (such as planing in small increments)
Thanks everyone for your feedback. I will post pictures of the finished product if I survive this one!
X_HOBBES
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[...]
Be careful with the router. When I applied a router to a maple/wenge laminated guitar neck blank it tore out a large hunk from the wenge as soon as it came down to that. It seems not to be a good wood to route, so maybe consider planing, at least for the edges that go with the grain.
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Thanks for the heads up. Perhaps I will do some test routing on a scrap piece of Wenge.
Anybody else have some advice?
Thanks! X_HOBBES
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Wenge is a beautiful wood that is very similar to Doug Fir. I have many pieces of both vertical grain and flat sawn that look like fir except for the color of course. I do get many splinters when working the wood which will get infected so remove them within a couple of hours. While the wood can splinter easily I find that it works very well and comes up to a nice polish easily. While dense, it is not especially resinous. I have not had gluing problems using tb2. Some people like to bleach the wood before finishing to lighten the color but I prefer it dark. I think you will be very happy with the stuff (except for the price). max

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First make sure to wear a dust mask the entire time you are cutting/sanding wenge.Keep it on until the dust has setteled completly.This is a very nasty wood as far as the dust from it is along with the splinters that as another poster said removely immediatly.It will cause problems to your lungs if you ingest any which by normal breathing you will some some if you are not wearing a good dust mask. As long as your glueing is done with good flat edges and clamp it while curing you should not have any problems with glue lines. I wouldn't worry about your blades getting dull as any wood is going to dull your blades some just faster than others.Just start off with good sharp ones on this project. Test a piece with your router to see how your wenge will react to your roundover bits.Again start off with good sharp bits and you should have no problems.

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I've only done a handful of things with it.

It's brittle and splinters easily! :)

Take light cuts and watch for tear-out.
Gonn'a be a nice looking table. Expensive, but nice looking...
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Actually, as far as my friend is concerned, it's a very cheap table. I'm building this table for a friend for just the cost of materials. Woodworking for me is a hobby (an expensive, time-consuming hobby, but still a hobby). My friend needs a table. He realizes that I could build him a table out of oak or something for about $100-$150 in material and he would end up with a table that's worth about $500-$1,000. Or, he could spend about $800 in material (for Wenge) and get a table that's worth about $6,000-$8,000! It's a win-win situation -- I want to build a table out of exotic wood, but don't want to pay for the material and don't need a table; he wants a table made out of exotic wood but doesn't want to pay the price of one. =-)
I know that it's a toxic wood (they use it in Africa to stun fish, or something like that), so I will be wearing a good dust mask (the one I would use when spraying lacquer; with the two intake filter canisters and an exhaust in the front). I already got a small splinter from handling a small piece of Wenge on one of my sample projects, so I learned to wear workgloves when handling it -- especially when still rough.
Here are a few more questions:
- Would you use biscuits to edge join the planks for the top?
- Does anyone have any good designs for attaching removable legs?
The table design is very simple -- solid plank top, edge-joined; four squared post legs, tappered at the bottom; a 3" skirt with a lower lip. The top will be attached to a frame using screws in elongated holes (for wood expansion). The frame will be made up of four 3" planks laid out in a rectangle slightly smaller than the skirt. The planks will connect to each other using half-lap joints (since the planks are laid flat). The skirt will be butt joined onto the frame. Where the legs will go, there will be a thick diagonal cross brace joining the adjacent skirts. The legs will have a diagonal notch at the top, so that it will look like the Superman diamond if you were looking straight down on the leg. The legs will be attached by two bolts going through the diagonal cross brace and into the notched side of each leg.
For this design, should I do some sort of tennon to join the diagonal cross brace to the skirt, or would pocket screws and some glue be enough? Should I use some of that gorilla glue, or is regular wood glue sufficient?
Thanks for your responses so far! Keep them coming!
Much appreciated!
X_HOBBES (A novice woodworker, taking on bigger projects)
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Yeah *I* would. But not out of experience or intelligence. That's just what I do for my larger table tops. Whether "Wenge" adds anything to be factored into this, dunno...

Maybe I don't understand - but on my recent oak kitchen table project, I used Loose Tenons to attach apron to legs. My legs didn't have to be removable. I think you said yours do. In any case, that project and a few others have convinced me that loose tenon joinery is fast, simple and very useful (to me, at least).
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