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Thread: Long wood countertop advice

  1. #1
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    Long wood countertop advice

    Gents,
    Have a job where the client wants a 175" walnut countertop. It is for a wetbar in their theatre room.
    I have never done anything like this before (length wise).

    I have a 8' sliding table saw, jointer, planer, clamps, hands planes (smoothing), and festool stuff (track saw/sanders/domino)

    How in the world do I make a countertop this long without have a seam of some-sort?!?

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  2. #2
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    You’ll likely have to build up 15’ long boards, so there will be seams there. Stagger the seams from board to board, and it won’t be excessively obvious.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    You’ll likely have to build up 15’ long boards, so there will be seams there. Stagger the seams from board to board, and it won’t be excessively obvious.
    What does that process look like? Would I just have two separate tops and install them with a seam? Or would I glue them up.

    I think i wrote seam as in a normal "counter top seam" where two separate pieces are installed and then "concealed".

    I do not mind having a normal glue-up seam.

    Sorry for the confusion there!

    Ideally, I would like:
    -to make two 87-1/2" long tops
    -clamp them together using long bar clamps
    -Then a wide Caul clamped down that runs parallel with the seam. On both the top and bottom to prevent buckling at the seam.

    But, that's just "how I envisioned it".. I really have no clue how to work with long runs like this.
    Last edited by mike waters; 02-02-2020 at 4:47 PM.

  4. #4
    If 2 half length tops joined in the middle with a cleat underneath, the cleat may be in the way if installing it on cabinets. But it might be easier to get the two half length tops to the job site and through the house than a single full length piece. But if joined on site, may be more difficult to pull the seam tight and make waterproof. Might there be an opportunity to design something that would be between the two halves? A place to hold coasters and napkins, or a removable serving tray, or . . .?

  5. #5
    Join the sections with dominos and zipbolts.

  6. #6
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    Would the client go for a butcher block style of counter top? Seems like that would make your life a lot easier.

  7. #7
    This client wanted a 20+ foot long bar to match their repurposed bowling lane tables. The process involves gluing one half up with the fingers in place, then gluing the other half together, nested in place. It was a nightmare. If I had to do it again, I would glue up two or three complete courses at a time. Underneath the fingers are tapered to allow on half to drop onto the other. It's all held flush with a steel plate that was installed before the final sanding.
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  8. #8
    I would use a scarf joint with biscuits or splines. Before final ripping and jointing. Warning! : people will not notice it.
    So make it clear there will be no drinks or chips until they find it !

  9. #9
    Pinch dogs on the underside for "clamping"

  10. #10
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    We do long glue-ups all the time. Just wrapped up some 16 footers last week.

    Why not source 16’ lumber and omit the seams? A track saw and enough guides will allow you to rip the edges for glue up.

    Be sure to finish both faces of the top.

  11. #11
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    Multiple good suggestions here...but before you commit to "how" you build it, make sure you consider how you will INSTALL it. Can you get a 15' long workpiece in the door and physically to the location it's going to live? Does the installation point have any limitations that you have to work around that would preclude putting a fully assembled 15' top in place without destroying the room structure? If you can support the full piece, staggered joints are a viable option and will look far better than a butt joint in the middle. But if you have to do it in more than one piece to enable you to actually get it in place, you'll be faced with either a regular butt joint or preferably one with staggered "box joint" type ends that permit non-end-grain glue surfaces...assuming you can complete any finishing in-place.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12
    You will either pay dearly for, or sacrifice quality trying to source enough 16' walnut that is countertop worthy.

    I would definitely figure out how to make this out of shorter boards. If it were me, I'd make multiple smaller tops that are bowling alley style. I would not try to make it continuous unless you have access to people and equipment to process it contiguously. I would make two 8' sections. Having a running bond in each half will help hide the fact that there is a complete break between the two halves. I can think of several ways to mitigate or even decorate that break in a way that the customer may find to be a feature.

    I would also not try to make the boards as wide as possible. I would make them 4-6" wide and mix grain - even sapwood if your client will let you. I would think about this like a hardwood floor - not a counter.
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 02-03-2020 at 11:22 AM.

  13. #13
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    Site has a big window and table can be slid in through it with blankets without an issue.

    I think I will try to go the route of "making a design out of it"

    Not sure how yet... Dovetails?
    any idea's?

    thank you everyone! I had no Idea "Pinch dogs" existed, but wow! Another tool for the arsenal..

  14. #14
    Domino connectors do a good job of pulling things tight also.

  15. #15
    Here in Cincinnati you will pay more than dearly for even 8' walnut. Bgefore committing to the project, and certainly before ordering the walnut, make sure you are confident you can complete the project to the customer's satisfaction. Sometimes it is a good decision to gracefully decline a project than undertake a nightmare. Testing the with some similar sized poplar before submitting a proposal can be considered. Even 12' lumber can become unmanageable for me on my long bed 8" jointer.

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