A friend has a 80" x 37" cherry table they let several candles burn down on.
It actually burnt out maybe an eight inch of wood. The top is 1 1/4" thick,
but I think sanding the damage out is probably hopeless; presumably the wood
will be discolored deep into it, and it might be 3/8" to find clean wood.
Turning the top over won't work either, as the bottom surface is quite
That leaves ripping the damaged 12" out, putting new boards in, and sanding
The problem is the joinery used. The top is all 2" wide boards that have a
sort of finger joint between them. It is flat for an eight of an inch at
the top and bottom, and then 4 pairs of fingers, each about an eight of an
inch. They are rounded, and project about an eighth of an inch.
Getting an exact match is too much to ask for, but I can't find anything
even close. Any suggestions, either on the cutter or alternate methods? I
will take a router bit, a shaper cutter, or maybe even a molding head for my
Finger joint router bits should be available from just about any
manufacturer. Big furniture makers use a big automated finger joining
machine for such work and an exact match is virtually impossible. But if
the board(s) in question is not on the edge of the table the actual
joint used between boards is not going to be visible anyway, is it? All
that will be seen from the top is something that looks like a butt
joint. Joining the boards could be a simple as cutting a slot into the
ends of the two boards and gluing in a spline.
But, if the area of the burn is not that extensive, depth not mattering
much, my first thought would be to inset a "dutchman" patch to cover the
burned area.. Or just leave it as it is and call it "character". If you
find a 200-year-old cherry table in an antique shop and it has a burn in
the top you will probably be charged extra for it. '-)
Would there be any reason to consider decorative inlay? If the
damage could be incorporated into a pattern of inlay type work it
might be striking. Here is an example, I think one of these
medallions properly centered would make the table quite a show
(top posted for your convenience)
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
DanG (remove the sevens)
A few ideas come to mind...
1. If you have access to a wide belt sander, run the whole top through
the sander multiple times till you get down to good wood.
2. Rip the top into widths that will fit through a planer (12"
typically), plane down to good wood, then reglue the top together. Sand
3. If you do not have access to either of the above tools, you may be
able to build a "sled" of sorts to flatten the top with your router and a
straight bit. LOTS of passes back and forth, but it should work in
4. Flip the top over and try any of the above methods. Depending on
whether the top is worse than the bottom, this might be a good option.
5. 80" isn't that long. You should be able to cut out the damaged section
and replace it with a single board.
6. Assuming this section isn't on the edge of the top, the joinery won't
show anyway. Use scarf joints, or slots and splines to join boards
together. Then cut out and replace the damaged section.
7. Depending on the construction of the table, maybe you could just cut
out the damaged section and make the table smaller? For example, 80" x
35". It's unlikely anyone would notice a couple of inches difference.
8. Forget about repairing this top and just build a new one from scratch.
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