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Thread: How to Flip Table Top?

  1. #1

    How to Flip Table Top?

    I'm working on a dining room table that is 9' long, 42" wide and about 1.5" thick. In order to do finishing I will need to flip the table top over 2 or 3 times solo. Has anyone successfully done something similar?

    The table will be resting on a series of horizontal beams that I can modify if necessary. Some ideas:
    • Create pivots that clamp to either end of the table top at the center point. Jack these up, rotate, then lower.
    • Build a crane with winch that will lift one side until the table top is resting on one edge. Then scoot this edge over to the other side and lower.


    Some constraints:
    • Need to be gentle with the table top since it's being finished
    • There's no possibility of attaching a hook or anything to the ceiling

  2. #2
    Why 2-3 times?

    When I do large tables I finish the bottom first, completely. Then flip once and finish the top.

    I'm usually doing this on padded saw horses.

    To flip, I have used the following when alone (but highly prefer to just find a person to help). This requires you to have an extra sawhorse on hand:

    Place a second sawhorse in line with one of the two horses.
    Lift the edge of the other side and kick out that single saw horse and lower that end to the floor.
    Flip the table over from one horse to the one next to it: You will have to walk around the table when it is vertical, so you are lowering down towards yourself.
    Lift up the other edge and slide the horse back under.

    It sounds like it'd be heavy and awkward, but it's not bad.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Similar to Prashun. Two sawhorses with furniture pads. Completely finish the bottom then slide it to the side so one edge is near the center of both sawhorses. Rock it up on edge and while holding it balanced walk around to other side and lay it down then shift it back to centered on sawhorses. Sand and finish top surface. If it needs to sit unfinished cover it with a plastic drop cloth to prevent moisture changes and warping.
    Steve Jenkins, McKinney, TX. 469 742-9694
    Always use the word "impossible" with extreme caution

  4. #4
    Normally you don't do the same quality finish to the underneath side of a table as the top. It's just a matter of sealing it. You might use something that dries fast like lacquer or shellac and put two or three coats on the underside and then turn it over and finish the face side.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Thinking ahead... So say you get the top finished top and bottom. What next? Do you fasten to the base in your shop? If so youíre gonna be carrying a couple hundred pounds of bulky table to its designated home. Or maybe you carry it in two pieces, and bolt them together there. In either case, youíre going to need multiple guys. So you may as well get used to rounding up helpers, and get them to help flip the top during finishing.

  6. #6
    Thanks for the reply. This might just work for me. I'll have to think about it.

    The reason for 2-3 times is that there are a number of discrete steps in the process that I want to complete for both top and bottom before proceeding. E.g., I'll be using dye and want to make sure the color on top and bottom are consistent before proceeding. Similarly with glazing. And I want to finish the dyeing/glazing everywhere before proceeding to final topcoat.

  7. #7
    The base consists of two pieces that bolt to the top. Once the table is finished I will definitely have help moving it to its final resting place. But during the finishing process I expect to need to flip just the table top over a couple of times (see my reply to Prashun).

    Thanks!
    Tom

  8. #8
    I don't intend to use exactly the same process for the underside but I want it to have more than just a seal coat.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    I made a bunch of knock-down rotisseries for painting house doors. I don't know if the table design would allow attachment points to the ends, but the rotisseries save almost all the handling.

  10. #10
    Good idea. I have thought about some kind of clamp-on rotisserie-like holders with padding that could be used to rotate it.

  11. #11
    To each his own but if it were me, I would complete all the steps on the bottom before proceeding to the top - if for not convenience, you will see exactly how the top will look, which is otherwise a guestimate when dealing with color and a multi step process.

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Similar to Tom King, for doors and balusters I have sawhorses with angle iron on top with a notch in the top edge. A 1/4" bolt on the end of the door serves as a pivot, and a bolt offset about 8" away allows me to lock the door at a convenient angle for spraying using a piece of notched bar stock to a corresponding bolt head in the side of the sawhorse.

    The same "rotisserie" rig would work for a table top if the pivot bolt and offset bolt could be attached to a non-visible location on the underside of the table. The bar stock to the offset bolt handles any unbalance.

  13. #13
    Interesting idea about the rotisserie. But doesnít this ruin the ends of the table? Of course itís not an issue for doors and ballisters where the ends are not visible.

    Also, would a single bolt on each end support the weight of the table?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    Interesting idea about the rotisserie. But doesnít this ruin the ends of the table? Of course itís not an issue for doors and ballisters where the ends are not visible.

    Also, would a single bolt on each end support the weight of the table?
    I was thinking in terms of a bracket off of an inconspicuous place on the table bottom, not the actual ends of the table. It worked really well for 15 panels, but manually flipping the top on sawhorses might be easier than bracketing.

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    +1 exactly what Steve said re: flipping method. Finish the bottom completely, then flip and do the top and edges. Donít mess with a rotisserie thing. Itís fine just sitting on the saw horses. When itís upside down, Iíve found it best using two shop towels per saw horse, each folded about 4 times, to protect the top. Wonít leave any marks unlike rubber mats.

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