Greene & Greene Thorsen Sideboard #10: Constructing the Top

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Blog entry by TungOil posted 07-04-2020 03:11 PM 699 reads 1 time favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 9: Bottom and Back Panels Part 10 of Greene & Greene Thorsen Sideboard series Part 11: Drawer Fabrication »

With the majority of the casework completed, I focus on construction of the top. The finished top consists of a 24-3/4” wide center panel with breadboard ends, along with the usual ebony plugs and splines.

I begin by resawing a 13” wide, 78” long 8/4” sapele board into two 4/4 boards. After wrestling this piece of lumber through the bandsaw, I am rewarded with two nicely bookmatched boards. I also revealed an end check that will have to be cut off. I stack and sticker these boards for about a week to relieve any internal stress that may cause cupping before I continue.

After truing up the edges and faces on the jointer and planer, I cut a handful of biscuit slots to assure alignment during the glue-up.

The biscuits are not needed for structural strength, but help keep the boards aligned during glue-up, allowing me to maintain most of the thickness of the finished top.

After the glue has dried, I cut the ends to finished length making sure everything stays square. I make the final end cuts with a shooting board and circular saw, from the bottom to minimize tearout. After the ends are trimmed, I use a router to cut slots for the floating tenons that will fasten the breadboard ends.

Next I fabricate the breadboard ends. After sizing the parts, I lay out and drill the countersunk clearance holes that will be used to screw the breadboard ends to the top later. The screw holes are sized to allow for expansion and contraction of the top. Next I cut a tenon slot on the back and slots on the outer edge for the ebony bars using a router and mortising block. I square up the ends of the slots with chisels.

The floating tenons are glued in across the full width of the top, but only the center 4 inches of the breadboard to allow the top freedom to expand and contract with humidity. I don’t have a single clamp long enough to clamp the breadboard ends, so I use two pipe clamps to span the width.

To finish off the breadboard ends, I route the slots for the ebony splines that connect the breadboard end to the top. This hides the floating tenons behind a characteristic Greene & Greene cloud lift spline that will be applied later. Next, I round the corners of the breadboard ends carefully with rasps and sandpaper. The blue tape protects the adjacent part of the top from tool slips.

After the breadboard ends are completed, I layout, drill and square punch the remaining details on the top.

The final step is to cut slots in the carcass to allow fastening the top with table top fasteners. The slots are positioned to allow the top to expand and contract with humidity changes.

The finished top is fastened to the carcass with S clip type table top fasteners.

NEXT STEP: Fabricate and install the drawers.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

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