How to Make a Table: Episode 5

How to Make a Table 5

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With all the joinery complete, the stock for the tabletop can be prepared and jointed. Once glued and clamped overnight, Paul rips it to width, planes the edges and scrapes the surfaces. Then the frame components are cleaned up, ready to be glued. Paul progresses this sequentially, ensuring crisp joint lines and an even amount of glue.


  1. SharpPencil on 7 September 2016 at 6:23 pm

    Hi Paul …very interesting thank you

    My question is glue you used, it looks like resin W, a water soluble glue.

    I guess you are using oak? I have learned water on oak can turn parts of the grain black?

    I recently picked up a superb plank of 20mm mature oak 15″X 72″ from a skip (yes I did ask the owner). I made this into a shelf but needed the front edge to be 40 mm….so I cut and glued a 11/2″ strip to one side. My problem is:- a DARK GREY LINE when planned…….I prepared both mating faces and used about 10 clamps??………am I asking too much….please help

    Thank you John 2V

    • Paul Sellers on 8 September 2016 at 4:32 pm

      Well, tannic acid (occurring naturally on oak and many woods) reacts with some glues but not usually PVA which is the glue I commonly use. Some glues like animal hide glue can be less refined and retain darkness in the glue line but again I rarely use animal hide glues these days except for instrument making in bowed instruments. PVA does not show a glue line but if steel screws are near to the surface or you use steel clamps they will turn the surrounding area in contact with both glue, steel and wood black or dark brown.

      • SharpPencil on 8 September 2016 at 4:56 pm

        Thank you Paul…to clarify I use evo-stick resin W it says it is suitable for the oak I have used……quite possibly its when I wipe with a damp rag causes the black to wavy grain of oak NOT smooth part of grain. I use clamps like yours NEVER metal clamps without a protective face.
        I made some little boxes with resin W and wiped off with damp rag…result black stain………I showed this to you Paul at the book signing.

        In the future I shall be extremely careful to avoid “squeeze out” of excess glue.

        Thank you for taking the time in your busy work load….just watched the chat answers….really enjoyed……..thank you John

  2. knightlylad on 7 September 2016 at 8:53 pm

    Thank you for the lesson.

  3. drdee1280 on 8 September 2016 at 12:44 am

    Cornflowers, not sure about which glue you used. In my experience, moist contact with ferrous metals reacts with the tannins in oak to cause a very dark stain. If you apply a coat of lye to oak, you can get a nice brown (fumed oak- this was an old technique to use lye fumes to pigment).
    Maybe a chemist can add more info here about your glue?

    • Paul Sellers on 8 September 2016 at 4:42 pm

      Often our willingness to engage in answers can lead us into uncharted waters. Chemicals like lye and ammonia, though commonplace as household cleaners, are mostly sold in supermarkets in diluted household form. In most cases they can be only a fraction of a more pure and undiluted form so that they may well be safer, but they are still dangerous and harmful chemicals so in the wrong combination with other substances and materials they can create conditions we don’t want. Pure lye on wood containing tannic acid creates a reaction resulting in eruptions of white or coloured powder and this must usually be neutralised to make the surface accept a finish again otherwise it not take a finish and can and will cause the finish you apply to peel away. I say this because chemicals must be handled cautiously.

  4. Bob Blarney on 25 May 2018 at 2:54 pm

    A short video from Engel’s Coach Shop of Joliet Montana shows how to make a nifty glue spreader from a hacksaw blade:

    You may also enjoy many of his videos about coach building and restoration.

    • wadepatton on 25 May 2018 at 5:01 pm

      I enjoy learning from all, and what Mr. Engel taught me best, is how to bend wood. Heat, not water, not steam, but HEAT gives us the ability to bend wood into the shape we need. And spare pieces–because some bends fail. Cheers.

  5. wadepatton on 25 May 2018 at 5:07 pm

    DANG, I’m still not “up” on the exact method to be used on this table to join the top to the frame.

    Of course I see the mortises, but didn’t catch any discussion of how they are to be employed. And I cannot find any one anywhere using Paul’s technique-short of going to an antiques store and trying to “get lucky” finding a similar piece.

    I get all the other aspects, learned all of them making my Bench and watching Paul’s other videos and being a “member” for some time here. Oh well, I’ll wait until the release #8. Paul works REALLY FAST in 1.5x!

    • dovetails on 25 May 2018 at 5:17 pm

      There are other video’s of Paul using this technique. Either on this site, or on youtube. But after the mortises are cut, you make a small “button” out of wood. It ends up being roughly in the shape of a letter “z”. You screw the button on the the table top, and the other end of the “Z” slides in to the mortise. It locks the top on, while allowing the top to move with seasons.

    • Philip Adams on 29 May 2018 at 2:12 pm

      Paul makes and fits the turnbuttons in episode 6, so that should give the needed detail. Let me know here if you need any further detail.

  6. Dennis O'Shea on 25 May 2018 at 8:41 pm

    As always excellent presentation I am curious about the scraper make and model Again thank you I never stop learning

    • Andy Wallace on 25 May 2018 at 9:59 pm

      Appears to be of a Stanley No. 80 variety – although unclear specifically but Paul has created videos on this type and its sister type the Stanley No.81 at different times – available on YouTube as well as here probably.

  7. Christopher Johnston on 9 June 2018 at 6:50 am

    Excellent observation on spreading glue with your fingers .

  8. David Williams on 4 July 2019 at 1:35 pm

    Excellent series. Just wanted to point out that the right hand link does not point to episode 6, but rather to the Q & A episode.

  9. Claudiu on 28 September 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I’ve made 2 tables and both of them, before adding the clamp where square. I manage to destroy both of them, after I use clamps, Any tips how to tackle the pressure, or how to arrange them so I dont have an out of square table?

    • Izzy Berger on 1 October 2019 at 3:46 pm

      Hi Claudiu,

      Paul says:
      It’s very difficult to explain and would take several paragraphs but basically you apply the clamp pressure by having the clamps out of parallel to the frame so that the pressure pushes the long point to a shorter point. That is the internal corner where the distance is longer, your clamps will need adjusting. It sounds complicated but just experimenting you can see which way out of square it is and make the adjustment accordingly.

      Kind Regards,

    • joeleonetti on 1 October 2019 at 11:39 pm

      I have the same problem myself so don’t feel too bad. I don’t think anyone besides myself noticed the out of square. I will also try what Paul says below.

  10. Pablo Krause on 6 May 2021 at 8:25 pm

    Missing episode 6 “Next” link.
    After episode 5, I get the Q&A episode next.
    The correct episode should be

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