Hickory Table Top

The A Train

New User
Adam
Im looking to build my wife a new dining table. Over outside dimensions should be about 36” X 72”. Initial thoughts are to do six 5 1/2” boards, plus some 3 1/2” breadboards. Im leaning on using 1” material, so to give it a thicker look I will add a 1 1/2” - 2” thick border. In the past I have used a butt joint, but I would really like a miter joint for the frame. Is that a bad decision from a movement standpoint? Im afraid that joint will open up over time. Also, my wife would like a rustic look but not the barnwood picnic table look . I am leaning hickory because it should give the look shes after. Has anyone used hickory for a table top? Is there any changes I should make to ensure movement is at a minimum?


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medic

New User
john
A couple of tears ago I built a dining table for my daughter ( 40 x 96 ) and used a 1/2 spline joint for the top I do not know what kind of base you have in mind,but one concern would be with a 72 in span you run the the chance of the top possibly sagging over time. I put a center support in mine and two years later still flat.the base was an x brace design. As aside note the table weighs close to 250 pounds . made from 6/4 white oak hope this will help you in building your table
 

The A Train

New User
Adam
I was leaning towards a turned leg base. The legs i was leaning towards was from carolinalegco.com 3 1/2" pine. The top will be braced on the skirt
 

marinosr

Richard
Senior User
In the past I have used a butt joint, but I would really like a miter joint for the frame. Is that a bad decision from a movement standpoint?
Yep that's a bad idea for the reasons you identify. Plywood+ veneer is the way to go if you want a miter frame. If your table is 36" wide, even with quartersawn hickory, you're looking at 1/4" of shrinkage going from 11% to 7% MC. Shrinkage calculator. You'll crack the frame wide open.
 

Henry W

HenryW
Senior User
So butt joint for the frame is the way to go?
Adam can you explain what you mean by "the frame"? Most table tops that are solid wood and not veneered, are not 'framed' for the reason you highlighted - wood movement.

My apologies if you already knew this.... but here's my best explanation.
If you by frame you mean around and not under the top, then please realize that most (solid wood) table tops are slabs (made of glued up boards), with or without breadboard ends, but WITHOUT a 'frame'.
 

zdorsch

Zach
Senior User

The A Train

New User
Adam
Attatched is what i meant by frame. Its a border around the table top similar to a picture frame. Im sorry for the lack of clarity. Ive seen mitered corners on tables before and love the look but Im afraid it would crack/split on me.




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JohnnyR

John
Corporate Member
Won't work with solid wood. This defeats the purpose of breadboard ends which allow for wood movement and will allow a "bump" at the ends where joined except for that time of year when the humidity is the same as when built. I also think that this design is to busy with the breadboard and frame. A frame works well when the interior is more diverse like a checker board. The idea of a frame is to enclose or highlight the interior or cover up the sides like with plywood. If you want to do this you can purchase veneer or make your own to go over Ply or MDF.
 

The A Train

New User
Adam
would having that frame harm the integrity of the table top? my wife seemed to really like it. I could possibly talk her into mounting it on the underside like mentioned to give the appearance of a thicker top
 

Henry W

HenryW
Senior User
Adam
Depends on how rustic you want this to be and whether you can live with gaps in the table top.

THe challenge is that the interior pieces of the table top will expand and contract with humidity.
If you make the frame tight when it is dry (wood and air), then when it gets more humid and the wood expands, the frame busts open (or reveals cracks).
If you make the frame tight when it is humid, and the air and the wood dry out, then gaps appear in table top (between interior pieces and the frame).
Frame and panel doors were made to allow for this movement; but doors don't have the flat surface that we presumably want to have on a table top.

Knowing your species and the range of humidity that will be experienced by the furniture, you can calculate the amount of shrinkage - which Richard noted above as 1/4" for 36 of hickory.
 

junquecol

Bruce
User
Take a trip to either Woodies in Apex, Fair Grounds Flea market, or Unfinished Furniture in Sanford and see how their tables are made. I'm going thru the same process now on farmhouse table for the kids. You can do the field from either 4/4, or 5/4 material, making it extra long. Then cut ends off,and turn under and glue in place. Add an extra thickness to outside boards, and suddenly top looks thicker. In the inner area, fasten top to a piece of 3/4 MDF, to which you fasten the rails. Use corner blocks, and fasten legs in place using hanger bolts. This way, legs can be removed for transport. Unfinished Furniture in Sanford will sell you a set of legs (suitable for painting) for around $125. Several styles to choose from.
 

Martin Roper

Martin
User
Maybe an internal panel like a traditional door. Miter the perimeter and have the panel "float" in the center.

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A 3/16"-1/4" gap should allow for expansion and contraction. Of course, you could make fewer panels, maybe even just one.

(Not my work, BTW, but I have a Chinese dining set similar to this that I brought back from Hong Kong in my Navy days.)
 
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JimD

Jim
Senior User
Nothing wrong with a solid wood top and breadboard ends. The end will not exactly match the width of the solid wood top except at one humidity level but the difference won't be huge and doesn't bother everybody.

I plan to make a new dining table this year with a solid wood top out of 4/4 material but will double it on the edges and ends (purely for appearance). I might breadboard it but probably won't. On the ends, the doubled part will have the grain running in the same direction as the top.
 

Rwe2156

DrBob
Senior User
Yep that's a bad idea for the reasons you identify. Plywood+ veneer is the way to go if you want a miter frame. If your table is 36" wide, even with quartersawn hickory, you're looking at 1/4" of shrinkage going from 11% to 7% MC. Shrinkage calculator. You'll crack the frame wide open.
Exactly right.

Tabletop I made of QS white oak 42" wide well, well acclimated 8% wood I still got 1/8" of shrinkage withing a month after moving inside.
 

The A Train

New User
Adam
ok then, thanks for the help gentlemen. looks like we will go the traditional route with breadboard ends and no bordering. has anyone here worked with hickory and have any tips? also, im inbetween arm-r-seal and waterlox but leaning more towards arm-r-seal even though i havent used it yet
 

zdorsch

Zach
Senior User
Make sure you have sharp tools. I’m in the middle of a hickory project now.

Hickory is not forgiving on multiple fronts and requires a bit more attention/diligence in proper methods of preparation. Planing is a chore and tear out is more than I’ve experienced with other woods (oak, maple, ipe, cherry, pine, cypress). After cutting, edges are sharp and hard. When cutting mortises make sure to score/cut cross grain first. Rout in passes instead of all at once.
 

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