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  • Handmade Kitchen Table

    So the wife wants a handmade kitchen table with a storage area underneath because our family is growing and our house is getting smaller. So the more storage space the better. I have read several books on making tables and read some articles in my woodworking magazines I get every month. I have noticed one thing that a lot of the books suggest is to make sure that you do something to protect the table from weakening and splitting due to moisture ect. I was going to use one large piece of wood for the table top but now I am thinking i should use about three and join then together with several butterfly joints. What do you guys think I should do?


    This is something similar to what I am talking about but the seat will have storage space.

  • #2
    Re: Handmade Kitchen Table

    I use boards no wider than 6" and biscuit joint them together. If you look closely at the pic you will see that all the wider surfaces are made up of several narrower boards

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    • #3
      Re: Handmade Kitchen Table

      I was originally thinking biscuit joint but I like the decorative look of the butterfly joint. However in this situation it would probably be stronger, huh?

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      • #4
        Re: Handmade Kitchen Table

        No reason you could not add the butterflies as a design/decorative element. I like the biscuits for strength and alignment aids

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        • #5
          Re: Handmade Kitchen Table

          I thought about that after I posted. Why not just add them for the look.....hmmmm more work do I or don't I.

          Also what kind of wood is good for a table like this. I would think pine is to soft and would not last as far as cosmetically. However pine is cheap in OR.
          Last edited by DanLawrence; 08-03-2009, 07:00 PM.

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          • #6
            Re: Handmade Kitchen Table

            I would go with poplar since it's about as cheap as pine, but I don't know if it's any harder. I've noticed the poplar boards where I buy from tend to warp less than pine, though I don't know if it's just a quirk of my local store, or true for the species as a whole.

            If you do build some kind of storage under the table, make sure you increase the surface area of the top accordingly, otherwise everyone will be hunching over the table for meals. I saw them whip up a new kitchen table on one of those pseudo-DIY shows on HGTV a few months back, and they put storage under it, but it did not seem all that inviting or comfortable. Not bad I guess for about $50 worth of MDF and a few hours of labor, better than the tv trays and folding table the family was using before. I wouldn't want something like that in my house though

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            • #7
              Re: Handmade Kitchen Table

              how about cedar I have large pieces I can mill down actually it's port orferd cedar and I have a bunch of ash as well. Now ash is a harder wood right, I know cedar will last a long time in the weather but how does it do for furniture?

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              • #8
                Re: Handmade Kitchen Table

                If you have ash that would be a great choice. Ash has nice figure and is very hard. Cedar is soft and the oils in it can make finishing and glueing a nightmare. When I use cedar I wipe all the glue joints with Naphtha before I glue them

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                • #9
                  Re: Handmade Kitchen Table

                  I wouldn't use pieces wider than 6". The wider the elements of the glue up the greater the risk of cupping of individual boards. I have been given that advice while shopping for a jointer. Everybody said get an 8"+ one, but a guy who has been making furniture for a living for the last 30 years dissuaded me from that. He said he never goes above the width of 5" in his glue up projects. So I got me a 6" jointer, a really good deal, and I'm happy with it.

                  As for biscuits, when used for table top glue ups their holding strength is pretty much irrelevant as the glue line of the boards alone will give you more than enough strength. The value of biscuits in this is only for alignment. I use dowels the the purpose but I would have no problem with biscuits, except that a really good biscuit joiner is much more expensive than a comparably precise doweling jig.

                  I am pretty new to the whole woodworking hobby but I did some glue ups 18 years ago. Ugly and not so precise but they still hold (maple). At the time it didn't even cross my mind to use any kind of alignment such as dowels or biscuits. Heck, I didn't even know a thing such a a biscuit joiner even existed.

                  Oh, right now I work mostly with cherry and walnut.
                  In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Handmade Kitchen Table

                    I love working with walnut it's one of my favorites. It is so expensive though. Once in a while some one will post on craigs list or in the newspaper that they have a walnut tree they want cut down and I will be happy to do it for free. I will even pay them something depending on quality of the wood. If it has alot of burrells then I will pay more. My favorite wood is Myrtle wood found only in Southern Oregon near the coast, the very tip of Northern California and Isreal. It's a very expensive wood but the colors are amazing. I made some awards for a company that look like our state out of Myrtle wood. I made some good money for just a little bit of work and I took them to a guy who used a laser and put the companies logo in it and it looked fantastic.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Handmade Kitchen Table

                      Keep your eyes open on deals.

                      I'm lucky I work in a somewhat rural area where most have their own trees and the price of lumber is bearable. 4/4 to 6/4 runs as follows:

                      hard maple $1 to $1.50 bf
                      cherry, walnut $2 to $4 bf
                      oak, ash $1 to $2 bf

                      Qualitywise I use about 70 to 80% and then tinker with the scrap for things such as cutting boards and such, the greedy type that I am
                      In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Handmade Kitchen Table

                        That is cheap for walnut, any where around here it seems that it's at least 4 to 6 $ bf. Cherry is not that bad here and there is a lot of fir and pine. Oak seems hard to get a hold of, I have been looking for a dealer.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Handmade Kitchen Table

                          I'll second Darius' comments on alignment and glue, and also to keep the boards narrow. I use biscuits these days but used to use splines made from 1/8 masonite, for alignment only. The glue is plenty strong as long as the joints fit together well. Alternate the cupping pattern - one up, next one down, etc - and the table will have a better chance of staying fairly flat.

                          I prefer hardwood for tables. Tables take too much abuse for softwoods, if they are actually used by the family. But, the distressed look is "in" now, so you might like it. You mentioned cedar... it's soft but would be gorgeous if it fits with the other stuff in your home. I have a 12 string guitar with a cedar top... seems to hold up fine, has darkened a bit with age. And of course, unfinished cedar is often used to line closets and holds up very well. So I don't think you would have any problems.

                          I think any of the hardwoods already mentioned would be gorgeous. If you decide to go light in color, I might tend toward maple - for a table, the closed grain is less likely to absorb stuff that might get spilled (your finish choice could make that a non-issue). Use a finish that is non-yellowing on blonde woods!

                          For dark wood, walnut or cherry are classics. Oak is nice if you plan to stain.... but it can be a pain if you don't at least give it a light equalizing wash of stain because there is so much variation in color from board to board. I've done a lot in red oak, but it can be a bit splintery to work with. If you can get cherry for cheap, well, I don't see how you could go wrong with cherry.

                          I like trestle tables & benches. I took a side job to make a custom trestle bench years ago to match a table... it needed to be birch, which is a fine cabinet wood but not one my favorites... but the trestle design is timeless.

                          Let us know what you select!

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                          • #14
                            Re: Handmade Kitchen Table

                            Originally posted by DanLawrence View Post
                            That is cheap for walnut, any where around here it seems that it's at least 4 to 6 $ bf.
                            The low prices I pay here is a fluke that happened, in some cases, before I was even born. A lot of people with large properties considered planting walnut trees to be the best retirement plan they could think of. Most dd it.

                            Fast forward a few decades and there is quite a bit of walnut lumber in the area so the prices are bearable.
                            In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Handmade Kitchen Table

                              Originally posted by darius View Post
                              The low prices I pay here is a fluke that happened, in some cases, before I was even born. A lot of people with large properties considered planting walnut trees to be the best retirement plan they could think of. Most dd it.

                              Fast forward a few decades and there is quite a bit of walnut lumber in the area so the prices are bearable.

                              That is lucky. I have an uncle who bought a small mill and the previous owner had a bunch of exotic wood. I received 12,000 lbs of scrap and it is great for small projects. However very little of it is walnut. Just not a lot of that around here.

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