What width boards for a 4'x10' barnhouse table top

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Forum topic by caberto posted 09-17-2019 01:53 AM 263 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View caberto's profile


4 posts in 44 days

09-17-2019 01:53 AM

Hi all,

I am going to be building a 4’x10’ barnhouse table for a client… the table top will be made of 6/4 douglas fir. For those who have done this, what would be the recommended width of the boards? I am considering 6”, but would a wider board be (or look) better? Aside from looks, is there a structural or other logistical reason to choose one over the other?

I have a 6” jointer and a 12.5” planer, but client wants the look to be really rustic and old world, so isn’t too concerned about having – and really doesn’t want – a perfectly flat and smooth surface.

I also plan on putting breadboards, currently considering 7” secured with tenon & mortise and drawboring.

I have been playing with sketchup, and have the table drawn there with 5.5” wide boards, and it doesn’t look bad… but haven’t gotten around to changing the boards to something like 8 or 10”... stupid sketchup is a pain to work with, at least for a beginner like me lol.

Any helpful input is appreciated – thanks!

5 replies so far

View Aj2's profile


2493 posts in 2308 days

#1 posted 09-17-2019 02:05 AM

4ft wide and 10 ft long that’s a big table for a barn.
Your customer must have a heck of a boarding house reach.
My suggestion is to forget about what you see on a computer.
Pick out some nice looking boards and arrange them so they are pleasing to your eye.
A good table should have harmony in the arrangement with the grain flowing nicely between the boards.
I always try to have rift or quarter sawn on the long edges.
To kinda frame the table.
Cathedral grain that runs out on the long side of the table looks odd to me.And could be the sign of a board the will misbehave.
Good Luck
One last thing make sure your fir is kiln dried.

-- Aj

View SMP's profile


1392 posts in 416 days

#2 posted 09-17-2019 02:33 AM

I try to make it so the table is symmetrical width wise, and i visually like 6-8” boards for tops. Ie a 36” wide top would have 6 6” planks, in your case a 48” table would have 6 8”. Of course if you need to joint/plane then you want to stick with ehat your machines can do, unless using hand tools. In your case personally I would probably do the 8” and use hand planes, probably a jack plane set kind of rough.

View avsmusic1's profile


529 posts in 1195 days

#3 posted 09-17-2019 01:06 PM

i’ll agree with all the guidance above

If you do decide to flatten 1 or both faces, I’d do up to an 8” board with the guard off trick

View Woodmaster1's profile


1236 posts in 3097 days

#4 posted 09-17-2019 01:31 PM

The farmhouse table I just finish was 38”x84” and I used 2×8 yellow pine for the top. I borrowed a friend’s domino machine and used domino to put the planks together. I used a belt sander to even the boards so it is not perfectly flat and looks rustic. I also used epoxy on any bad knots.

View Robert's profile


3537 posts in 1991 days

#5 posted 09-17-2019 02:27 PM

Thre are lots of influences – the saw cut (quarter vs rift vs flat), the type of wood, moisture content and acclimation, where the piece is going, and more.

Generally speaking, the wider that board, the more prone to movement, mainly loss of width & cupping. That said, a lot depends on the climate differences between your shop and wherever the table is going. For example, if you build it in a humid shop and will live in the house, you can expect something to happen …...

I think 6” is a good width better than the wide boards, but maybe not as attractive on a large table. That’s a decision you’ll have to factor in what I mentioned above.

Be sure to do your breadboards to allow for movement.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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