As I continue planning for my mission-style coffee table, desk,
bedroom set, I wonder what is the best way to build the tops. I have
a book I picked up at WoodCraft, and it has me just gluing the solid
pieces together. A guy at a local tool shop says my solid oak design
will crack, and that I should use some kind of laminate with veneer.
I object to this idea . . .
If I make the coffee table top using 4 @ 1x6x48 planks, can I simply
run the edges over a joiner and glue 'em up? (just like I did with
that cutting board back in high school shop class, that has since
fallen apart) Or should I add some biscuits or dowels? Or???
The desk and bedroom tables with have tops made of 1x1 oak strips,
with the endgrain oriented upward (i.e., quartered). The coffee table
will use flat-sawn planks to match the sofa/love seat that we
As an after thought, the Golden Rule thread has me wondering: is a
24x48 top going to look funky? Following the "rule" would yield 29x48,
which I envision to be too wide . . .
There is no reason why you can't glue up the panel out of solid oak with no
biscuits or dowels and expect it to stay together.
However, assuming the tool guy isn't trying to sell you some tool or other
and has even the foggiest notion of what he is talking about, one has to
wonder if there isn't something else in the design that you are not telling
us about that can cause problem.
As for the golden rectangle, it's a rule (of thumb) not a law, if you think
24" X 48" is what you want and 29" X 48" is to wide, make the damn thing 24"
X 48". You aren't going to have the golden rule cops at the door with tape
measure and search warrant.
<whoop! whoop! whoop!>
then... three loud knocks on the front door.
cautiously, you open the door...
"Officer Snidely, here, sir. We've received a report of a felony on the
premises, a violation of penal code 711-ICU812, attempted building of
non-standard sized furniture. We have a search warrant granting us the
power to search your property for any mission style tables found to have
violated the golden rule, which is listed in paragraph one, section 435
of 711-ICU812. Your cooperation in this matter will be taken into
account should you wish to lead us to these items. You have the right
to remain silent, and anything you say can be held against you in a
court of law. Do you understand these rights, as I've explained them to
"I want to call my lawyer..."
Mike G wrote:
Not necessary for a top as long as you attach it properly. IOW, so that any
expansion across the grain can be relieved by unconstricted movement. Figure
eight fasteners will work, as well as cleats with slotted screw holes (slots
oriented in the direction of wood movement, or across the grain), which are
two simple methods. There are other methods also ... for these a good book
on woodworking should explanin the most used and practical.
You can certainly do them without biscuits. All but the last few of a dozen
or more table tops I've made were done with just glue and no biscuits.
However, after trying biscuits just recently for aligning the tops in a
perpendicular plane to the biscuit face, I found that a glue up with
biscuits, and good clamps, can be just the ticket for getting a flat top
much easier ... biscuits are by no means necessary though.
BTW, rip your table top boards random in width if you can ... the top will
generally look better that way. Doesn't have to be a radical difference in
width. Also, plan your glue-up and do a dry fit beforehand. Try to
anticipate any bow and use cauls to preclude that if it appears it will be a
problem because of the width. Good clamps, like Bessey, or Gros Stabil's
make this much easier.
Function, and what's pleasing to you, should overrule any "rules" .. golden
or otherwise. Take most of that discussion with a grain of salt ... it's
great if you are designing pieces of "art", but if you are designing a piece
of furniture to fit a specific location, let that be a secondary
I'm working on the same project, Scott, and I've glued up 8 widths of solid
oak for the top, so I certainly hope it doesn't crack!
This is 8 boards appx 3.5 in wide for a 28 in wide top. (the actual widths
came more out of scrounging usable boards from my low-grade stock than by
I used biscuits to help with alignment, and also used 3 sets of panel clamps
that I made by copying someone's post here. These work really nice; the more
edge clamping pressure, the more clamping pressing along the width of the
top holding it flat. If you're interested, these were posted by Kim
Whitmyre, you could find them by Googling the group. Or if you can't find
it, I could send you a couple pics of mine and describe them.
The only Golden Rule I know is "Do unto others as...."; guess sooner or
later I need to learn something about design when I want to make original
stuff. I'm working from a plan, and they didn't seem to be following
proportions like you mentioned. The plan calls for a 46 long by 36 wide top.
This looked odd to me for a coffee table, plus I just don't have enough room
for something quite that big, so I made it 28 wide instead, and cut down
dimensions and number of side spindles proportionately. My coffee table, my
living room. If I'm happy with it then...... well, then I'm happy with it!
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