All Replies on Help figuring out how to make a coffee table with a large maple center board

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Help figuring out how to make a coffee table with a large maple center board

by Mtnman761o
posted 02-11-2018 04:04 PM

2 replies so far

View jmos's profile


917 posts in 3227 days

#1 posted 02-13-2018 12:59 PM

You don’t have to use breadboard ends, it’s just one method of helping keep the top flat. In your case I would plan on using some sort of batton on the bottom, which could be the steel frame.

What you want to do is use a screw with a fairly tight pilot hole in one place, generally the center in a case like this, to hold the board to the batton. This will anchor the board, and it will not be able to move at this point. This will force any wood movement away from this anchor. As you move away from the anchor, out toward the edges, you want to add more screws, so that the board is held down tightly, but you then make the holes in the batton like slots to allow for the board to expand and contract and the screw to move.

You can either use slots, or you can drill a tight hole on the bottom of the batton but drill through so that from the top of the batton it looks like a slot; that way the screw can pivot. [when drilling, drill straight through, then repeatedly drill through the same hole on the bottom, but at angles to widen the hole on the top. Clean up with chisels.] Make sure to line up the slot with the direction of the wood movement.

Consider the humidity of your shop when you do this, and what humidity you expect to see throughout the year. If it’s really dry in your shop now, the board is probably as low a moisture content as it will be, thus as small, and a lot of expansion could occur. If it’s as humid as it gets, allow for a lot of contraction. If it’s in the middle, allow for some of both.

There are wood movement calculators you can look up to get an idea how much movement you should allow for.

-- John

View bilyo's profile


1163 posts in 1960 days

#2 posted 02-14-2018 04:18 AM

I would be inclined to use frame and panel construction. Make a frame of what ever wood you like cutting a tongue all around the inside. Frame corners can be joined however you like. Cut a matching groove around the edge of the maple panel. Leave about 1/8” “float” all around. Do not glue the tongue and groove. Only glue the corners of the frame. Make sure the tongue and groove fit snug, not tight. To keep the panel centered, you can use “space balls” or you can put a small dowel through the tongue and groove at the center point of the frame ends.

The only disadvantage to doing it this way is that the finished table top will have the narrow expansion/contraction groove exposed to collect dust, crumbs, etc. This could be solved by covering the top with glass. You may want to do this regardless in order to protect the interesting pattern.

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