Reply by JBrow

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Posted on Face joining Walnut

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1368 posts in 1798 days

#1 posted 02-14-2018 02:14 AM


Rather than two layers of ¾” wood face glued to make a 1-1/2” thick countertop, could the countertop be ¾” thick except at the exposed edges and ends? A dual layer of face glued lumber to produce an entire countertop that is 1-1/2” thick would add to the cost and time. Two layers of face-glued walnut only at the exposed edges and ends would leave the impression of a thicker slab, reduce cost, time, and eliminate the concern that prompted your question.

For the optional method, exposed ends would best be glued so that the bottom layer is face joined with the grain running in the same direction as the countertop grain; not across the grain. Cutoffs from the ends of each plank glued to the underside of the plank from which it was cut should result in the best end-grain match.

Similarly, a narrow strip ripped from the plank and then glued to its underside would produce the best match at the exposed long edges. Selecting a profile to rout the edges and ends could help conceal the face to face glue lines.

This optional approach could require shimming the base cabinets with wood (poplar) milled to the same thickness as the bottom layer of walnut.

But if you elect to fully double the thickness of the walnut, poplar would be a good choice. But rather than gluing the bottom layer to the walnut, the bottom layer could be glued-up separately to form the bottom slab. The bottom slab could be screwed (without glue) to the walnut and, for added insurance, short through screw slots cut into the bottom slab perpendicular to the grain of the walnut and bottom slab would allow the two slabs to expand and contract freely and independently. One additional step could be to make the bottom layer perhaps ¼” – ½” narrower than the walnut countertop and centered on the walnut countertop when attached with screws; in case the bottom layer decides to expand more than the walnut.

I am guessing that you are also asking about gluing the walnut countertop together from individual planks and a good method for keeping the boards aligned all along their length. Dowel, biscuit, spline, tongue and groove or lose tenon joints, or closely spaced flattening cauls would all serve to align the faces of adjoining planks during the glue-up. Lumber that is freshly milled flat and to the same thickness would make the edge glue-up and the ensuing flattening less of an effort. When properly applied and fully cured, water resistant wood glue offers plenty of strength without the need for reinforcing the joint.

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