I am designing a fairly simple oak dining table for a client. She wants
a european design with a big thick edge on all 4 sides. This warrants
making a frame around the top itself. My concern is that the frame on
the end grain will restrict the movement across the grain of the top.
A solution I am pondering is to use 1/4" veneer laminated to plywood
or MDF. Can 1/4" stock remain stable when glued to a stable
sub-surface? I am using white oak, possibly quarter sawn.
The client really wants solid wood, but her design requirements really
preclude that. I am hoping that 1/4" thick solid wood on top of MDF or
plywood will satisfy her constraints.
There's no reason you can't give her what she wants.
Just use a bunch of short pieces of oak on the ends and
match the grain direction so it's all end grain at the ends.
If you do make the top out of QS the frame should be
That is a valid option, but that precludes having a frame on all 4
sides. The frame for the ends wants to run perpendicular to the grain
which will limit movement. A breadboard edge was my original solution,
but she wants the legs to join at the corner flush with the big thick
edge treatment. I cannot join the leg to a breadboard edge. there are a
lot of conflicting requirements with her design.
Thanks for the input.
Sounds like a very unreasonable - and unknowledgeable - lady.
Obviously, the best top for what she wants is ply. However, there might
be a way - what if...
1. Make the table the way she wants but use extra, hidden end aprons
2. Attach the legs to the hidden aprons in whatever manner; attach the
top to them with the normal clips in a groove.
3. Now add the breadboard end to the tops
You'd have to jiggle around with the leg thickness/depth so that they
*appeared* to be attached to the breadboard ends and so that you had
enough meat to attach both hidden and visible aprons.
I think you are courting problems with anything thicker than 1/8"
1. Bread board ends. Preferably with a quirk next to the side pieces to
camouflage the top's expansion/contraction.
2. Or (as was suggested) double/triple the thickness at the edges.
3. Use 12/4 for the top :)
I'd suggest you either buy mdf that is already veneered, saving you the trouble
- although you will probably get very thin veneer that way, or you do the
veneering yourself, but I think you should do both sides top and bottom in that
case and not go above 1/8 thickness.
Factory veneered mdf works very well indeed with a solid wooden frame all
around it, you don't get the cross-grain expansion problems. As well, it's
completely invisible that any of it is not solid timber. I bisquit joint the
frame members to the panel, then clean up with the finishing plane and cabinet
scraper. (careful sanding: it's awfully easy to go through the commercial
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