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I need some advice on tackling a project. After building a few kids tables for someone, she asked if I would be interested in building a 12ft conference table. And I told her of course. What was I thinking? Once I started thinking about it, I realized I was in over my head. Should I go with lumber (I'll have to tool up first, couse I don't have a bandsaw, jointer, or a planer)? I guess that means I'd have to attempt breadboard ends I keep hearing about, to allow for movement due to humidity changes. Or should I go with veneering 2 laminated sheets of 12ft long MDF? I've also never veneered before though it seems simple enough. I welcome any suggestions on which route would be easier. Thanks.
 

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plastic laminate (Formica) glued to particle board.

u can buy "pre-veneered" plywood, in 5' x 12' sheets and veneer the edge or band it with solid wood.
 

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I'm fortunate to have a couple of hardwood dealers (fairly) locally that also do milling for reasonable fees. I have them do the stock prep on material too big for my equipment. It eats into my margin, but extends the range of jobs I can do. Hope that helps.
 

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I can't imagine veneering something that large unless you can do it in sections (which will not look as good). You need a lot of clamping pressure, evenly distributed, over the entire surface to properly veneer. The pre-veneered plywood would be a logical approach. Of course, the price differential between solid boards and plywood/veneer would be significant.
 

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It could be you're missing the obvious. Tables this large are often made in two pieces, and supported by a center leg where the two halves meet. (I just got up to check the large conference table in my office suite, and that is how it's made.) Essentially, all you have to think about is making two 6' tables any way you choose.
 

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I've made quite a few large conference tables. We build custom millwork for commercial buildings. If it'll fit in the room in one piece, we make it in one piece.

The easiest way to build it is to find a supplier of 12' long 1-1/8" particle board, and veneer it with a single sheet of paper backed veneer. The preferable way is to veneer it in a vacuum press, but a 12' vacuum bag is expensive. An alternative is to use contact cement, but it needs to be sprayed on, and you really need to know what you're doing. Either way, after veneering, you'd trim the edges with solid lumber.

Since it sounds like this may be a bit over your head, Here's what I'd do. Get two sheets of 4×8 hardwood plywood. You should be able to get them with consecutive, matching veneer. At the joint between the two sheets, I'd use a 1/8" hardwood edge on each sheet. Build up the edges with additional strips of plywood, and apply 1-1/2" thick hardwood edges.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It's now obvious to me that I'm not ready for veneering. I'll move that baby down the list on things to master. The pre-veneered option is waht I'm leaning to now. I honestly hadn't thought of approaching it with the 2-tables-together concept either. I can see it still looking good with the hardwood strip dividing the two. It seems less intimidating now. These are good ideas and I really appreciate the advice/input given.
one more question though, is wood movement with changes in humidity still a concern with the plywood or the veneer? If so, what is a must have in my construction to compensate? Thankls again!
 

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Whoa!!! Before you completely count yourself out of veneering, you need to know about a fantastic product called Heat Lock veneer glue. It's the best thing I've ever seen for beginners to use on their first veneering project, and using a single sheet of paper-backed veneer is PERFECT for this glue!! Click here to see the product brochure.

...I think I should get paid for this free advertising… ;-D

Click the Heat Lock logo below to go to the seller's webpage. Be sure to pick up 2 or 3 bottles for the large table you're using (it's actually available in a gallon now, which would probably save you money).


It's applied with a glue roller to get an even thick coat on the veneer back and the substrate material. The let them dry-to-the-touch (for 15 to 45 min, depending on your climate's humidity and temperature). It's best to apply a second coat of glue to the either the veneer or substrate before the first coat is completely dry. When both veneer and substrate are reasonably dry to the touch, put the veneer in place, and use a clothes iron on medium heat with a little bit of steam to firmly iron down the veneer. Also use a piece of t-shirt or a blue shop towel between the iron and the veneer. If the veneer wants to be stubborn, spritz it with Super-Soft II veneer softener, and it will immediately become supple without hurting the glue adhesion. To buy Super-Soft II, click the picture below. Here's a link for complete instructions on how to use both products together. I'll be posting one of my projects here on LJ where I used this iron-on glue and softener for my first veneering project, a writing desk veneered with Ribbon-striped Afromosia. It turned out BEAUTIFULLY.
 

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There are conference tables and then there are CONFERENCE TABLES. Without any idea of the design in mind its sort of tough to advise on how to proceed.
 

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Imo, Heat Lock glue is an alternative for doing it the right way. Veneer is very susceptible to splitting due to shrinking when heated. The heat removes the moisture from the veneer, causing it to shrink while being bonded.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The client changed her mind about the conference table. But at least I learned that there's pre-veneered plywood out there. I'm definitely gonna try to do some veneering, but I'll start with something smaller. Thanks!
 
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