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Help making a desk top from wood flooring

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Forum topic by Rubes posted 07-06-2020 10:02 PM 414 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rubes

3 posts in 33 days


07-06-2020 10:02 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question joining mahogany

Total woodworking noob here. I’m trying to make a desk top out of some beat up old mahogany flooring. It’s all tongue and groove, about 3” wide. I tried taking advantage of the tongue and groove, but glued them together rather than nailing them to a subsurface. I think I might have clamped them too tightly and didn’t try hard enough to keep them flat while gluing because the whole thing is pretty cupped. Is there anything clever I can do to flatten it out a bit? Should I cut it up again and run all the boards through a table saw so the edges are actually 90 degrees? Or is this destined to just not work at all?

Thanks for any advice,
Mark


9 replies so far

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LittleBlackDuck

4992 posts in 1626 days


#1 posted 07-07-2020 12:36 AM


... I m trying to make a desk top out of some beat up old mahogany flooring…
- Rubes

Hi Rubes, welcome to LJ.

I’m no craftsman, however, I’m guess the flooring might be relatively thin.

My immediate thought was to keep those boards and make drawers out of them and buy new lumber for the top. The time you will take to piss-fart around fixing… and it will probably bow with time will be a helluva lot more (in time… put a $ value on your time) than to buy new material.

You will need a good/reasonable set of panel clamps for what I perceive would be a reasonable desktop size. I’ll leave the method to the experts (I’m sure you’ll get a number of more constructive comments) as the clamps I use (and will only advise on actual experience) may be a tad out of your reach/availability.

Good luck.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

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sansoo22

1015 posts in 459 days


#2 posted 07-07-2020 01:35 AM

I’ve worked with reclaimed tongue and groove flooring before. Some 90+ yr old heart pine. I treated it mostly like rough sawn lumber. I took a belt sander to remove any finish and look for nails, staples, dead spiders, etc. Then I rip the tongue and groove off with the table saw. Then joint, plane, and make a panel.

Most of the flooring I’ve used will make a small writing or laptop desk but not work out so well for a big heavy executive desk without building some sort of apron/skirt with supports underneath. But that’s a whole other topic depending on what type of desk you are building.

If I had your panel I would try using a straight edge and circular saw to cut right down the glue line. Then cut everything again on the table saw to get nice square edges. The table saw needs a flat reference face in order to do that and if the panel is badly cupped you don’t have an reference faces.

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Rubes

3 posts in 33 days


#3 posted 07-07-2020 02:22 AM

Thanks guys! The desk is actually quite large. It’s replacing an existing built-in desk that’s 90” long and I was going for about 30” deep. sansoo22, I think the boards themselves have pretty flat faces so I think I’ll get decent sides after cutting off the tongue and groove. I was planning on gluing all the boards together, doing a double-layer on the front, adding some front-to-back supports, and attaching them to a 2×2 or something on the wall. Does that all seem like it would work? Is that what you meant by an apron/skirt?

LittleBlackDuck, just to address your concerns, the boards are 3/4” thick, which I think is big enough to attach side-by-side. I’m borrowing some good bar and pipe clamps, so that’s isn’t an issue. Oh and time is cheap – I’m blissfully unemployed at the moment! ;)

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LittleBlackDuck

4992 posts in 1626 days


#4 posted 07-07-2020 02:44 AM



... Oh and time is cheap – I m blissfully unemployed at the moment! ;)
- Rubes

No argument against all the OTHER statements but this… Time is never cheap, especially as you get older. To me the time I have left on this earth is my most precious commodity. Every year my hourly rate grows exponentially.

And while still young, unemployed or not, one should put an hourly rate on their time and incorporate that into the cost of a project… even if just purely academic.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

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sansoo22

1015 posts in 459 days


#5 posted 07-07-2020 03:55 AM

Are you building something similar to a torsion box shelf with front legs?

You probably don’t need the bottom layer unless you use a desk from underneath somehow.

If that’s the case and its anchored securely to the studs on the wall then that ought to make a pretty sturdy desk. Not to mention mahogany with a nice finish is going to be a pretty desk as well.

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LittleShaver

681 posts in 1424 days


#6 posted 07-07-2020 01:10 PM

While it’s too late for your project it may help someone else. I often see that the bottom of the tongue and the lower side of the groove are slightly recessed from the upper portions of these joints. This is done to allow the top edges to mate cleanly without interference from the lower edges. Works great if you are laying floor, but not so much it you are trying to glue up a panel.

This should have been obvious on a dry-run clamp-up.

-- Sawdust Maker

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Axis39

264 posts in 402 days


#7 posted 07-07-2020 01:38 PM

I am in the process of putting finish on a commission for a set of tables. They are a modern design (way outside my normal styles). The biggest of the three got a flooring top. I used flooring because it was, in fact, the least expensive way to get enough smaller oak pieces to make a chevron patterned top.

I used a substrate of mdf to keep everything perfectly flat. I did also machine down the boards to get square, flat boards. I was hoping to find 2 14/” flooring so i didn’t have to rip it all down… But finding it near me was becoming more expensive. So, I bought prefinished 4” flooring and machined it all down.

Knowing I was making it all from smaller pieces I knew I couldn’t rely n just the glue joints to keep things flat and stable. I also glued them in place, one piece at a time.

What I’m trying to say is that the thin joints on the side might hold up… But, I think your best bet is to cut it back apart, make sure the pieces themselves are flat and square, and then attaching them to another piece of something, plywood, MDF, etc that is flat and will help keep them flat in the future.

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

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Aj2

3178 posts in 2603 days


#8 posted 07-07-2020 02:35 PM

It does look cool John. Do you think the Mdf will keep the wood from expanding in the winter and shrinking in the dry summer heat.
I have not seen a table from solid wood like that.

-- Aj

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Rubes

3 posts in 33 days


#9 posted 07-07-2020 03:34 PM



Are you building something similar to a torsion box shelf with front legs?

- sansoo22

No, that’s way beyond my skill level! ;) I was thinking about doing something like the following. There will be legs in front but I didn’t include them in the sketchup. From the top:

And the bottom:

The pieces that go front-to-back would be attached to a 2×3 (or 2×2, or 2×4) with pocket screws. The 2xwhatever would then be screwed directly in to the wall studs.


What I’m trying to say is that the thin joints on the side might hold up… But, I think your best bet is to cut it back apart, make sure the pieces themselves are flat and square, and then attaching them to another piece of something, plywood, MDF, etc that is flat and will help keep them flat in the future.

- Axis39

Do you think what I’ve got above would be enough support or is it important to have a full panel? I imagine that would certainly be better, but more money. (That “blissfully unemployed” thing does have a downside, after all…) Oh and BTW, that table looks amazing!

On a related note, would the two stacked boards on the front would look stupid? If I were to go that route, would I need a thin extra piece to cover it up? The sides will be up against walls so those won’t be visible. I realize I’ve been thinking more about function than form, but seeing some of the great work from the people on this forum makes me think I should also try to make it look nicer.

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