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Thread: Slab table on a boat

  1. #1

    Slab table on a boat

    Good morning. Im Dave and Im new on the forum. I joined to try and get some expertise on a project I'm planning. I am building a galley table for use in the cabin of a boat. Im building the top only (it will be attached on the center line to two anodized aluminum pedestals) and Id like to use slabs either cherry or black walnut depending on my final selection of the other trim wood. Im planning on the table having around 9 center that is mounted to the aluminum pedestals and two 12 hinged, drop leaves. Overall table length will be around 36. Since this table is on a boat and weight is somewhat an issue, Id like to keep the final slab thickness down around 1.5 to 2. My plan is to finish it with tung oil followed by Waterlox Marine Finish on all sides. My questions are how thin I can make the slabs so that they will remain stable in changing climate on a boat? Can I go down to 1.5 or so, or do I need to be 2 or even more? Also, do I need to plan for some sort of strapping on the underside of the table to prevent cupping? I can come up with something that will allow expansion across the grain and still provide some rigidity, but Id rather not if things will remain flat without it.Finally, the boat is being built 4 hours south of me. Normally I would bring the wood into the cabin of the boat for a while to stabilize it to the current humidity before starting work. But thats not practical for this situation. That means I can either make the table top at my shop and bring it to the yard when finished. Or have the builder put a temporary table in place and then Id replace the top with my creation after I get the boat home. Id prefer the former do you see any problems with me finishing the top before bringing it down to the boat for installation? My shop is on the water so its not like I would build the top in an arid environment then move it to a humid environment. Id like to think that properly dried wood that is finished on all sides would remain fairly stable but Ive been wrong before.Sorry my first post is so long. I appreciate any insight you folks might care to offer. Dave

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by David Croy View Post
    ... Normally I would bring the wood into the cabin of the boat for a while to stabilize it to the current humidity before starting work....
    This would do nothing at all to help as the humidity will vary greatly over time. You'd be wise to make the table from more dimensionally stable materials typical of boat tables.

    Here's one I built using a Baltic birch plywood substrate with 1/8" teak ply overlay and 1/8" solid Birdseye maple inlay; solid teak trim. Size is 24" x 48".

    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
    I have no experience building boats but have done a few repairs to friends sailboats. I would use slabs as thick as you visually want and route out the underside to about 3/4" to 1" thick leaving the edges and ends thicker. Put cross members on the underside with slotted screw holes to allow for movement or dovetail them in. They could take the hinges. After that I would wait a little to allow for any cupping etc., then flatten the tops and finish all sides. Since the top is three parts, the slabs are really just wide boards that if close to quarter sawn won't cup much if at all.

  4. #4
    Thanks for your comments. I'll consider both those options.

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