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Coffee table for woodworking angst #2: Two steps forward, one step back

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Blog entry by Antti posted 01-28-2020 05:20 PM 636 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Second coming Part 2 of Coffee table for woodworking angst series Part 3: Table top taking shape »

I got in my jointing session for the scrap walnut pieces making up the table top. While I was at it, I jointed a bunch of scrap cherrys as well, in case I’ll make a third similar table.

It seemed all went really well with jointing as well as with the glue-up. Nice sap-wood stripe in the middle and all…

(The third thing being glued is for replacing the door to our sauna. Maybe not fine woodworking, but fun work anyway. The current door is sagging and about to break alltogether. I hope I get the replacement ready before it does.)

But no. The walnut table top didnt come out flat. So much so, that I will need to partially cut it back to pieces, as I dont want to lose half a centimeter of thickness when planing it straight. I’ll need to find one more piece of scrap, because I dont have the 3 mm saw cerfs to lose… when I glue these back together, it wont be large enough.

Either I caused this during jointing, or I clamped it too hard without paying attention to the flatness. I think it was the latter. I’m not beating myself up about this. Years ago I printed a reminder to my ”workshop” (the very crowded boiler room) wall: ”Prepare for mistakes.” I did that after routing dovetails on the opposite side of my very last piece of walnut, supposed to become a nicely figured drawer front. And swearing a little bit. Ok, a lot.
I’m just glad I did this mistake with this side-project with scraps, and not with my ”actual” project with the expensive cherry planks. I’d be interested to hear what everybody else is doing to avoid this. For larger pieces I have used cauls, and sometimes biscuits, but for such a small, small table top that seemed like way too much effort. In hindsight it is easy to see the faulty logic here ;)
Biscuits I wouldnt have used anyways, as it would be super easy to misplace them so that when cutting this round, some of them would be exposed. When I get to gluing the parts for the cherry dresser, I plan to put in biscuits or dominos for alignment, and after this catastophe will probably also use cauls!

And of course the cherry spare-one came out perfect. All it needs is sanding.



4 comments so far

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

6158 posts in 3589 days


#1 posted 01-29-2020 05:57 PM

As far as panel flatness… dominos or biscuits won’t prevent that problem. Loose tenons like these are great and I use them all the time, but not for tabletops.

Three thoughts come to mind.
1. When jointing edges, joint one board with the show face toward the jointer fence. Then joint the adjoining board with the show face away from the fence. This way, even if your fence was set at 89 degrees it would still yield a flat panel.

2. When clamping up panels, adjust the clamping pressure top and bottom until it reads flat with a straightedge.

3. If your current top will be attached to a frame, it will probably work fine as-is. It should cinch down with screws or figure 8 fasteners. I’ve used panels that were bowed as much as 1/4” (because they were kicking around the shop for months) and they worked great.

Good luck.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View joshdd's profile

joshdd

2 posts in 164 days


#2 posted 01-29-2020 06:19 PM

Great craftsmanship as always! Some how-to posts would be really neat! A great place that I found is http://tiny.cc/WoodCraft, this has helped me hone my skills to a whole nother level. I hope it helps some others!

View Steve's profile

Steve

100 posts in 3750 days


#3 posted 01-30-2020 03:03 PM



I got in my jointing session for the scrap walnut pieces making up the table top. While I was at it, I jointed a bunch of scrap cherrys as well, in case I’ll make a third similar table.

It seemed all went really well with jointing as well as with the glue-up. Nice sap-wood stripe in the middle and all…

(The third thing being glued is for replacing the door to our sauna. Maybe not fine woodworking, but fun work anyway. The current door is sagging and about to break alltogether. I hope I get the replacement ready before it does.)

But no. The walnut table top didnt come out flat. So much so, that I will need to partially cut it back to pieces, as I dont want to lose half a centimeter of thickness when planing it straight. I’ll need to find one more piece of scrap, because I dont have the 3 mm saw cerfs to lose… when I glue these back together, it wont be large enough.

Either I caused this during jointing, or I clamped it too hard without paying attention to the flatness. I think it was the latter. I’m not beating myself up about this. Years ago I printed a reminder to my ”workshop” (the very crowded boiler room) wall: ”Prepare for mistakes.” I did that after routing dovetails on the opposite side of my very last piece of walnut, supposed to become a nicely figured drawer front. And swearing a little bit. Ok, a lot.
I’m just glad I did this mistake with this side-project with scraps, and not with my ”actual” project with the expensive cherry planks. I’d be interested to hear what everybody else is doing to avoid this. For larger pieces I have used cauls, and sometimes biscuits, but for such a small, small table top that seemed like way too much effort. In hindsight it is easy to see the faulty logic here ;)
Biscuits I wouldnt have used anyways, as it would be super easy to misplace them so that when cutting this round, some of them would be exposed. When I get to gluing the parts for the cherry dresser, I plan to put in biscuits or dominos for alignment, and after this catastophe will probably also use cauls!

And of course the cherry spare-one came out perfect. All it needs is sanding.

- Antti

Hi Antti – In my experience, the most likely scenario is a slight shift in the staves while in clamps. It doesn’t take much for a small shift like that.

-- Free Wood Videos Here: https://bit.ly/2s0LyPT"

View Antti's profile

Antti

97 posts in 3386 days


#4 posted 01-30-2020 05:09 PM

Thanks for your input! I plan to implement the alternating show face against jointer fence -method in my next projects. I suppose you then need to also pay attention to not flipping the boards over (i.e. the same end needs to go first for this to work)? Any tips on marking the boards? Usually I tend to joint/plane/saw away my markings…

Anyway: since the top will be of floating kind, I ripped it back to (three) pieces, and re-glued it. Less of a hassle than I expected. Today I stopped by at the communal workshop, and sent it through the planer on both sides. Happy happy!

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