Hello all. I have a few questions for the experts out there. My boss
has asked me to build a table for a conference room. It is a
challenging project and I am excited and hesitant about it at the same
time. I would describe myself as an intermediate skill level woodworker
but this would be a project quite a bit larger (and much more
expensive) than I am used to doing. The dimensions of the table are 48"
wide by 144" long. He has said that he wants it built out of quarter
sawn white oak. The bookshelves in the room are a honey colored oak. We
have also talked about doing an edge treatment out of a contrasting
wood such as walnut. I've worked with oak, red and white, but only
flatsawn boards as this is all my budget would allow. He has said he
wants a "thick" top, "like 2" thick" and boards "as wide as possible"
to minimize the number of joints and to match the grain as closely as
possible. I told him this would be extremely heavy, costly, difficult
to work and hard to find lumber much wider than 6-8" inches. I've
talked him down to 8/4 stock and am thinking that 6/4 might even be
Questions I have are: Would 6/4 QSWO stock for the field with a 2"
thick edge banding be sufficient for a table top of this size? The
design is a trestle table loosely based on a design from The New Yankee
Workshop. Since the top is 4' wide by 12' long would it be better to
make up three 48" x 48" panels and then join the panels together end to
end? If I go this way would it be possible to make a nearly invisible
seam between the three panels or would I be better off not trying to
hide the seams and incorporate them into the design somehow, like
edgebanding the three separate panels and then joining them together?
Or should I attempt to edge joint 12' long boards and glue up a massive
panel for the top? My shop is equipped with a 6" jointer, contractors
style table saw, 13" wide thickness planer, biscuit joiner, router
table, etc. I know it would be very hard to edge joint 12' long boards
on my jointer, thus I'm leaning toward the shorter board/separate panel
solution. However am I asking for trouble in gluing edge grain to end
grain when attaching the edge banding on the ends of the panels? Any
information or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. TIA.
Is veneering out of the question? I've seen a lot of large conf. room
in my time and the largest always seem to be veneered. You could then
build the top with ply and then veneer with QSO and/or the walnut trim.
Veneering is not totally out of the question, however my boss likes
things VERY solidly built and is hesitant about veneer because he
thinks it is too thin and will be damaged. He wants this table to be
around after we've all long since passed on to the next life. Another
factor is that he has an idea about putting an inlay of a logo in the
center of the table.
Nothing says the veneer has to be only an actual very thin veneer --
you could resaw or as someone else said, even use 3/4 over a substrate.
I don't see that the inlay issue has any bearing there -- it will/can
be inlaid into a veneered surface just as it would be into a solid one.
On the overall table construction -- have you considered how (or
could?) you get a single-piece table top 12-ft long by 4-ft wide of
(say) 2" thickness into the area it's intended to go into? Is there
sufficient access including elevators, etc? Wouldn't be the first boat
built in the basement with no way to get it out (in reverse).
While it's possible, you'll need to consider wood movement and
direction _very_ carefully if you go for a single-piece top.
Personally, I'd strongly recommend that you make it as a sectional
table with the provision to lock the sections together if the boss-man
will accept it.
I'd add one other word of caution here -- this sounds like a big step
for you and doing something like this for an employer if it doesn't
turn out or were to develop a problem a couple years down the road
could be a sticky wicket. Just be comfortable w/ the idea of doing
this for the person you're employed by is a good idea. If he's
comfortable w/ the idea you're an amateur and while you'll do the best
job you know how, if something doesn't work out as hoped, he needs to
be the type of individual who will either accept it as an honest
attempt and go on or be willing to support you in whatever it would
take at that time to try to make it right. Hopefully, of course, it
will all turn out marvelous and all is well, but employer/employee
relationship and outside business deals aren't always the best mix...
Veneers can be 1/32nd. Krenov built veneered cabinets, however they
were all from resawn wood. His stuff sells for $10k and up.
You can build a very SOLID table - and a very "thick" veneered top.
Reading the other posts, moving it is a big deal.
What about using 3/4" quarter sawn oak on top of a less expensive
backer. Once the edge banding is put on, you'd have to crawl under the
table to see the bottom layer. Even if you wanted to stay with oak, you
could use regular sawn boards or pieces with knots or blemishes for the
bottom - that would reduce costs significantly and help with the
stability of the glued up table.
I suppose you know that a "solid" top that big is going
to be just a "wee bit" on the heavy side ???
Most big conference tables are built from mdf and then
veneered but I understand he wants a "solid" table.
Just remember, you have to get it into the building and
around corners and into a room, so make plans for that.
I would think about a torsion box and cover that with a
solid veneer about a 1/4" thick. The torsion box would
not sag or warp or all those other things solid wood is
going to do. You could build the boxes out of plywood.
I would build three table sections, two ends with a big
leaf in the middle.
Think a "giant" dining room table.
If you get stuck using solid material, use 3/4" and build
up the edges only.
Go out to office supply houses and take a careful peek at
how their tables are constructed.
Here are a few ideas from a firm tha builds some very nice
and expensive tables.
dale martin wrote:
I would give strong consideration to making the top frame and panel with
three sections, using thick oak for the frame material and plywood for
the panels. 12' long, thick oak is extremely heavy and cumbersome to
work with and while your equipment can do the work, I believe you will
be more successful dealing with smaller pieces. If I had to design a
table on that scale, I would make the top frame and panel, using
contrasting inlay at the panel/frame joints as both a decorative
feature, as well as to hide the joint of the plywood to the frame material.
BTW, if you made the top in solid 8/4 material, finished out to 1 3/4"
or so in thickness, your top would have 96 board feet of material. At
approximately 3.5lbs per bf, the top weighs nearly 350 pounds.
dale martin wrote:
Don't forget the power outlets, phone lines, Ethernet connections, and
the video switcher for the overhead projector.
All of our tables have these in the middle with covers to hide the
connectors when not in use.
Sending unsolicited commercial e-mail to this account incurs a fee of
$500 per message, and acknowledges the legality of this contract.
If you (or your boss) prefers the solid top, 6/4 would certainly be
strong enough. I would probably go with 12' lengths. You might also
consider having a local millwork mill and glue up the top for you.
They could do the glue up and probably be able to sand the top in (at
the least) 24" sections with one final glue joint to sand. You could
have the trestle system ready and add the top.
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