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Thread: Chevron Table Top, alternate to veneering?

  1. #1
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    Chevron Table Top, alternate to veneering?

    Hi All, I am contemplating how to build a dining table top that has a chevron pattern of hard maple, in 3" strips. Conventional wisdom is to veneer the pattern with a veneer balance on the other face. I want the top to be a thick enough surface to survive a gouge or three, and have been trying to figure out if I can pull this off with ~ 0.5" thick maple strips. I have seen table builds out there doing just this on a plywood matrix, but those look doomed to failure with seasonal wood movement. So with that, here is the idea(question): Can I use a solid wood underlay that has the overall grain orientation the same as the net orientation of grain for the chevron? That way, it should move with the underlay, and I can float the whole thing on slotted rails. One concern is that the mitered parts of these joints might differentially expand/contract in a way that could open the miter...Anyhow, I would love to hear peoples thoughts on this. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I'm not clear if your chevron pattern covers the whole top, or just some portion.

    At any rate, I'd consider using shop-sawn veneer. I'd cut the veneer at 1/8", expecting to net maybe 3/32" after sanding. That's plenty of thickness to handle abuse. But it is thin enough that it acts as veneer, with its stretching and contracting controlled by the plywood substrate. The plywood could be 3/4" thick, but if you can find 1", that would be even sturdier. I'd use similar-thickness balancing veneer on the bottom face. I'd orient it pretty much to follow the grain direction(s) of the veneer on the top face.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    I'm not clear if your chevron pattern covers the whole top, or just some portion.

    At any rate, I'd consider using shop-sawn veneer. I'd cut the veneer at 1/8", expecting to net maybe 3/32" after sanding. That's plenty of thickness to handle abuse. But it is thin enough that it acts as veneer, with its stretching and contracting controlled by the plywood substrate. The plywood could be 3/4" thick, but if you can find 1", that would be even sturdier. I'd use similar-thickness balancing veneer on the bottom face. I'd orient it pretty much to follow the grain direction(s) of the veneer on the top face.
    Hi Jamie, thank you, and yes, the whole table and two leaves. It will be a bit of a job but I do not want to hear down the road that it self destructed...

  4. #4
    What will happen at the corners, a square that's a little bigger than the Chevrons ? Unless it's for yourself I would
    consider that job too big a Gulf and Exxon-ner- rate myself ....but perhaps reconsider ...farther down the road.
    Dont Sit,Go !

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Fulks View Post
    What will happen at the corners, a square that's a little bigger than the Chevrons ? Unless it's for yourself I would
    consider that job too big a Gulf and Exxon-ner- rate myself ....but perhaps reconsider ...farther down the road.
    Dont Sit,Go !
    Not sure I understand your question about corners Mel, attached is a sketch up of the top. Edge features not included..
    Attached Files Attached Files

  6. #6
    Like Jamie I was not sure of what the plan details. Thought it was a border ,not full pattern .

  7. #7
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    I'm thinking ahead to the job of assembling lots and lots of parallelogram pieces into the pattern. That's a lot of labor, and there isn't a great way to clamp each piece tightly to the next. Instead, how 'bout this...?

    Start with 3/4" lumber, or maybe even thicker. Rip it all to your width, and edge-glue it into one big panel. It is pretty easy to clamp the lumber into that panel. Now cut the panel diagonally -- a track saw would be good -- into many strips which might be called a half-chevron pattern. Flip every other strip over. Now you're looking at a big chevron field. Fasten the strips together, and you have the table.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    I'm thinking ahead to the job of assembling lots and lots of parallelogram pieces into the pattern. That's a lot of labor, and there isn't a great way to clamp each piece tightly to the next. Instead, how 'bout this...?

    Start with 3/4" lumber, or maybe even thicker. Rip it all to your width, and edge-glue it into one big panel. It is pretty easy to clamp the lumber into that panel. Now cut the panel diagonally -- a track saw would be good -- into many strips which might be called a half-chevron pattern. Flip every other strip over. Now you're looking at a big chevron field. Fasten the strips together, and you have the table.
    Well that sounds like a horse of a different color Jamie! If I have understood your suggestion right, (and please let me know if I don't) the idea is to make a solid top, not veneered, or are you suggesting to make that "half chevron" and then resaw it for making veneers? If you meant a solid top, the seam between each 1/2 chevron would effectively be a lonnnnnng miter. So I am thinking I would biscuit the thing together...finally, would tangential shrinkage & expansion be an issue given that the grain will not be running exactly the same way as one goes across the assembled table from one 1/2 chevron to the next? Maybe I am overthinking this, but better now than later. Appreciate your thoughts.

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    I hadn't been thinking of resawing the long half-chevron strip to make veneer, but that should work. Do you have a bandsaw big enough to resaw ten inches?

    I don't have good intuition about the consequences of wood shrinking and expanding in the solid-lumber version of this approach. I think it will hold together, but I'm not 100% sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    I hadn't been thinking of resawing the long half-chevron strip to make veneer, but that should work. Do you have a bandsaw big enough to resaw ten inches?

    I don't have good intuition about the consequences of wood shrinking and expanding in the solid-lumber version of this approach. I think it will hold together, but I'm not 100% sure.
    I will do some preliminary builds with the solid wood approach and see what it is like. My poor little bandsaw would not be up to the task of resawing near 10"
    Thank you again for your help

  11. #11
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    Goggle with "chevron cutting boards". They're smaller than you're contemplating, but should give you some encouragement.

  12. #12
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    For the solid wood approach when glueing up the chevrons make say every 4th board three inches longer so it can overhang 1& 1/2Ē each side. By staggering clamps diagonally across the glue up the clamping force will be perpendicular to the glue surface. After glue up saw off the ends and plane the end grain.
    Next problem is the end grain joints will be very weak and after a few years non-existent. You will need a spline joint at the end grain joints at the very least. The spline wonít change length with humidity but the table will, so the spline will need to be in short pieces and possibly pegged from one side.
    The solid approach solves the table edge finishing problem, splines are easy to make.
    Cutting up a big glue up at 45 degrees with a track saw requires the whole glue up to be diamond shaped but with staggered ends for Clamping it will work. Edge jointing all that length may be problematic and while the flip technique is simple the pieces will look flipped with identical patterns. You can introduce more variety doing each piece on its own, the table will have more character, less machine made in appearance.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  13. #13
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    Thanks William, we are on the same page for how to do the glue-up. Some really careful jointing would be in order. I was thinking that since my stock is flatsawn, if I cut my strips and orient in glue-up so the tangential direction was oriented toward thickness, rather than width, the series of miters would not tend to open up as much, and in so far as there would be variations in thickness, the entire top would move together..

  14. #14
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    Yes standardising the orientation can only be a good thing. As the spline lengths will be a bit of a guess pegging them from underneath ensures long term stability. At least one peg at the middle of each side of the spline.
    If the table is thick enough two layers of spline could be used in alternating fashion. The first time someone stands on the table to change a lightbulb you donít want it collapsing!
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

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