Table top design

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Forum topic by Greg Beagan posted 01-26-2020 12:19 AM 292 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Greg Beagan

7 posts in 191 days

01-26-2020 12:19 AM

Topic tags/keywords: table design joinery

Hello all!

I’m an intermediate woodworking hobbyist and I know there’s a TON of experience and knowledge here so I’m hopeful I can learn something from you lot!

I’m getting ready to start a kitchen table. I’m pretty sure the design is sound but I’ve hit a bit of a hurdle with the top. I’ll be using 8/4 white oak and the overall dimensions are 46”x60”. I’ll be using breadboard ends with ebony pins. Here’s the issue: I don’t have any lengths long enough to span the whole length of the table. As I see it, and here’s where I need your help, I can either stagger the planks or add a cross piece n the center of the table top (in lieu of end to end joint).

Staggering the planks seems like the path of least resistance but I don’t want the joint to be visible from the side of the table top. I don’t know if using a cross piece will weaken the top too much.

What do y’all think? Help your brother out!!

-- Measure, cut, sand, sand, sand, sand, finish, think of 35 ways you could’ve done it better...

8 replies so far

View Blindhog's profile


149 posts in 1691 days

#1 posted 01-26-2020 02:54 PM

Sounds like you’ve boxed yourself in with the requirement of no joints showing on sides and breadboard ends. Maybe rethinking the design would provide a way out and still give you what you are seeking. Pinterest and Google search images are great sources of inspiration for me in trying to visualize shapes and appearances. Here’s a couple of ideas that might help rethink the top.

Good luck with your project!

-- Don't let perfection get in the way of plenty good enough

View BFamous's profile


341 posts in 763 days

#2 posted 01-26-2020 03:09 PM

Using a cross piece should not weaken the top, if your joints and supports are done correctly.
Are you planning on including a skirt of some sorts?
It’s really a matter of overall design more so than just who the top is designed.

-- Brian Famous :: Charlotte, NC ::

View cracknpop's profile


386 posts in 2991 days

#3 posted 01-26-2020 03:58 PM

My initial thoughts are a cross grain board in the middle will not be a strength issue unless you are not using an apron underneath.
Here’s an example of a table with ‘cross grain’ in the middle. While this pic is of a leaf in the middle, it will give you a good look.

-- Rick - I know I am not perfect, but I will keep pressing on toward the goal of becoming all I am called to be.

View Greg Beagan's profile

Greg Beagan

7 posts in 191 days

#4 posted 01-26-2020 05:28 PM

Thank you all for the replies.

I will be using 3 1/2 or 4 inch aprons and attaching to the legs with through mortises (bridles). I think the pic that Rick shared is closest to what I was thinking although the cross grain board I’d use would be much narrower (6” max).

Thanks again!

-- Measure, cut, sand, sand, sand, sand, finish, think of 35 ways you could’ve done it better...

View SMP's profile


1809 posts in 548 days

#5 posted 01-26-2020 05:46 PM

Maybe I am missing some info. Are you trying to use boards you already have on hand? Can’t find boards long enough at local lumberyard? And if you are trying to just use boards on hand how long are they? My initial thought is built it just like you would for a leaf, like the pic shown. This will be strong enough and give you the option of actually adding a leaf later on if needed(even for special occasions etc)

View bondogaposis's profile


5658 posts in 2994 days

#6 posted 01-26-2020 06:47 PM

Use the boards you have and stagger them, buy 2 longer boards to put on the outside edges then you won’t see the joints. from the side.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Woodknack's profile


13072 posts in 3023 days

#7 posted 01-27-2020 12:08 AM

46” is a wide table which makes conversation and passing food more awkward. I suggest reducing the width a little and scarfing your boards together if you insist on working with short pieces.

-- Rick M,

View Greg Beagan's profile

Greg Beagan

7 posts in 191 days

#8 posted 01-27-2020 12:10 AM

I came into several hundred bf of green white oak a while back. It’s air dried so I’m working around cracks and checks and whatnot but I really don’t want to buy additional boards unless I’m 100% out of options. I have a few lengths that are long enough (and clear enough) to run tails on the outside and stagger the inside lengths. I’m probably (definitely) over thinking this. It’s kinda my thing

-- Measure, cut, sand, sand, sand, sand, finish, think of 35 ways you could’ve done it better...

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