Table Tops

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    When gluing up tabletops, what is the best way to assemble them. In your opinion, are more narrow strips more stable than a fewer wider boards? I’m looking to make a drop leaf table, dimensions are fully extended table top is 48X38. The two drop leafs will be unsupported, dimension 12×38.

    Thank you,

    • This topic was modified 6 years, 7 months ago by dborn.
    Salko Safic

    In my pinion both are equal in strength, edge glueing is just as strong as if dowels are placed in them but what people don’t realise that those that do use dowels and biscuits it’s sole purpose is to help with alignment and not strength. Do you plan on dancing on the top, I wouldn’t worry about about it but to give you a good indication of it’s strength I made a fold out table top 10 years ago out of 4 12″ wide boards and they were pine. This was a very a large coffee table that the top was made into two half. So both tops were hinged so you can lift it and place inside the table whatever you wanted for us it was where I placed all the dvd’s. Anyway my kids were small and I wanted something not to extravagant but sturdy as I knew they were going to climb on it and climb they did. It was that strong that it took my weight as well several times. Yes I was showing off to my wife but I also wanted to disprove those who believe that dowels add strength. I even jumped on it several times and not even a squeak

    Ultimately the decision is yours but both work equally well.
    The Lost Scrolls of HANDWORK
    (Hand tool only woodworking magazine)


    Definitely not going to be dancing on it. I guess my concern is the drop leafs warping.. I have several boards of cherry that have been in my garage for about a year and they seem to have stayed flat the entire time.

    Maybe I’m over thinking this process, as usual!

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 7 months ago by dborn.

    IF they has sat a year and stayed straight, I would sya you are good to go.

    Tuscloosa, Alabama
    Lung T'an Hu Huesh Kung-fu Woodshop


    I guess I’m over thinking the process!!


    As others have said I think you’ll be just fine. The only step I might take is to move the boards somewhere close to where the table will be situated for a week or two before glue up especially if it’s cold/damp in your garage-not sure where you are in the world.


    The table is actually going to a different region/climate than where I live. I’m in the Chicago-land area IL and the table to reside in Raliegh-Durham NC… Unfortunately, I live in a place that gets bone dry and cold in the winter and hot and humid in the summer. I will just have to do my best and hope for the best. I really think I’m over thinking this process, because even if the wood moves at this point, I guessing it will not mover more than 1/8″ seasonably. Also, as far as tables goes, this is a fairly narrow unsupported section.


    I am making a 9’table out of walnut, the boards are 1 1/8″ thick and vary in width from 9″ to 11 1/4″ wide, they where taken from my property ( indigenous) and dried for four years on stickers. I have two concerns:
    1. Should I alternate growth ring orientation one up, one down to limit bowing of the table top?
    2. Are these boards just too wide and should I rip them in half to offset bowing?

    Matt McGrane

    @joeg – Paul Sellers has said a few times that alternating the growth ring pattern is not necessary. But I’m sure he also had well dried wood and picks his pieces carefully. If you can get these boards flat, and they stay that way for a few days (maybe bring them to where the table will reside), then I think you won’t have a problem.

    You can always modify the design to help out – for instance, by adding some cross-grain battens on the underside of the table top, screwed into the top through elongated holes in the battens (except the middle screw hole is not elongated.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016:

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