Dinning room table questions

Jeff Horton

Member
Messages
4,272
Location
The Heart of Dixie
It's a ways away but I have committed to build a Dinning Room table and chairs for the LOML. I was thinking about the table top and have a couple of questions.

One being which way to run the wood on the table top? Is there an advantage to running one direction over the other? She wants a LONG table. To be able to seat 10 people! I probably will not have full length lumber and trying to convince to use dovetail slides and build it with a couple of leaves. That way if we ever move we won't have a table to big for the next house. We can take out a leaf if need be. Because of the leaves I am thinking that running the wood across the table would look better since the leaves wouldn't mate running length wise.

Next question has to do with table slides. I was leaning toward wooden dovetails slides but I have never built or bought one. I am concerned about the length of the table and thinking that it will need a center post to prevent it sagging. Any input on this would be welcome.

The table and chairs will be (most likely) made from black cherry (sometimes called choke cherry or southern cherry). Design will be along the Shaker lines. Legs on the corners, square tapered legs. Small aprons.

This is one of those projects I look forward to and at the same time sort of scares me. Building 10 chairs is sort of intimidating!

Jeff
 

Al killian

Member
Messages
1,941
Location
Floydada, Tx
If you run the the boards the long way, you can glue them all up then cut the leaves out. Running the grain the short way will cause more grain movement, since the boards will be wider. I am not sure about the rest.
 

Jeff Horton

Member
Messages
4,272
Location
The Heart of Dixie
With the talent we have here I am surprised at the lack of answers. BTW thanks for yours Al.

A little more info. Doing some research and looks like a table for 10 people works out to 4' wide 9' foot long. Seating two on the end I believe. That size works extremely well for our dinning room. With this size I could skip the leaf. It would fit perfectly in this room. Just are we willing to to leave the table it if we move??

If I make the top one piece and went with bread board ends then no problem running the boards length wise. I am assuming 8' boards, hence the BB ends. I am not crazy about BB ends but they are OK.

If I put a leaf in the table, I still very concerned about the looks of the joint with the board running long wise. I am thinking it would look much better running across the width of the table. Then the joint of the leaf match the joints of the boards. Yes I have to deal with more expansion but that is all in how the top is mounted to the aprons and that can be dealt with.

OK any input??

Jeff
 
Hey Jeff,
Believe it or not, I wrote out a reply yesterday and the computer gremlins ate it when I pressed the wrong key. I figured you would probably get better ideas that what I contributed anyhow. Well, since the response has been slow, I'll try again.

First and most important bit of advice - mock it up and show the missus. I jury rigged a couple of scraps of ply to the size the missus wanted her table and she was shocked at how big it looked, so we scaled down a bit.

I have never made wooden dovetail sliders, but I used to have a table with them. Not real smooth, but they looked good.

I like the center support. It works well for arts and crafts looking furniture. See the pic below.

In my opinion, running the grain the long way looks much better. If you go with short boards, it will be hard not to have "grain wars" at the edges and you will show lots of end grain.

Right, bread boards can be a pain, but everyone who sits at my table likes them.

Here's a pic of a walnut table I made recently. I was concerned that the legs would be too small, but its one sturdy piece!
 

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Messages
161
Location
Stockport, England
I've made few extending tables for customers and they are always a bit of a problem. No photos unfortunately as every time I've made one I've vowed NEVER AGAIN and not even got my camera out!

A couple of tips;

I wouldn't use solid wood for the top. By the very nature of a moving top you can't secure it down flat with buttons or slotted brackets like on a fixed table top. So it's going to move, cup, twist, warp whatever. This is going to play havoc with any sliding mechanism and the chances of getting a good join between leaves in the long term are slim. I'd definitely use veneered ply or MDF with a good sized lipping all round.

Extending tables are normally made with the grain running across the table to disguise the joins between leaves. However, if you use veneered board lengthways with a lipping at the ends the joins are running along the grain of the lippings anyway. Do your sums correctly with the right width of lippings and you'll get a table top and leaf out of one 8x4 sheet anyway - the grain will then line up nicely along the fully extended table.

Duncan
 

John Dow

Former Member (at his request)
Messages
535
I'd have to agree that for a big rectangular table, grain running the long way is going to look the best. As to leaves, personally, I don't much like them, so I say build a really nice table to fit the space, and if you sell the house its an incentive for the buyer and you get to make another :D :D :D , so everybody's happy.

One of the outfit's I used to work for did long grain tables with these kinda end leaves, all in the G&G style. They worked pretty good, though a little fussy to get level, and added about 4' to the table, maybe a bit less. The grain on the leaves ran across the grain of the main table, but it seemed to work visually. Might not go in a shaker style though.
 
Messages
1,407
Location
Villa Park, CA
The basic question I'd ask is whether you want to leave the table full size all the time. A table for 10 is pretty big and if you have less people than that, the meal is not quite as intimate with everyone sitting on one end. Also, a 48" wide table makes it tough to pass things across the table - people may have to stand and lean over to pass plates and bowls across the table.

The other choice is to go longer but stay about 36" wide - but then the table would have to be 12' long. Don't know if that would work for your space. The best thing would be to mock up the table with sawhorses, some strips of wood, and kraft paper to represent the top (staple the kraft paper to the wood strips). That way, you can see what the table will look like in your space and how it looks to sit across it.

I agree that the best way to make the top is to use veneer and a stable substrate - maybe some really good baltic birch - then put an edging around it to hide the plywood. Put edging where the two halves meet so you don't see the plywood and lay the veneer over that edging. Personally, I really dislike breadboard ends (for a number of reasons). Regarding leaves, you need to decide whether you're going to have the leaves in or out most of the time. If they're going to be out (which is usual) lay your veneer so that it matches with the leaves out. Very often, when you put the leaves in, you're going to have a table cloth over the table so you won't be able to see the grain match between the main table top and the leaves. But do use veneer from the same batch for the leaves so that you get a good color match, even if you don't get a good grain match. Even when you do that, the wood ages differently because the leaves are stored out of the sun while the table is in the light and ages (darkens or lightens).

Regarding the table slides, buy those. You can make them but it's a specialized job and the pros will do a better job than you will.

Putting a couple of legs in the middle of the table is a good idea for a table that big and should not be problem to design in. Put rollers under those legs so you can open and close the table easily. A nice touch is to make the two legs fit together when closed (no leaves) so that they look like a single leg.

Oh, one more thing. You need to decide whether you want the apron continuous when you have the leaves in, or whether there will be gaps in the apron when the leaves are in. Having a continuous apron looks better and people don't hit their legs on that corner of the "broken" apron, but putting apron parts on the leaves requires more storage space for the leaves. If you go for apron parts on the leaves, I'd follow what you do for the top - that is, if you make the grain match without the leaves, make the grain match on the apron the same.

That's all I can think of right now. Good luck! A big table is a challenge but when well done gives a lot of satisfaction both to you, the builder, and to the user.

Mike
 
Messages
1,407
Location
Villa Park, CA
Oh, one more comment. If you use veneer and don't want to highlight the edging, just run a profile (some kind of half round or fingernail profile) on the edging so that the veneer runs up to the profile. Then the veneer of the top is continuous and the edging only shows in the profile.

You can do this by putting your edging on the baltic birch before you lay the veneer - make it just a bit wider than your profile - then lay your veneer over all of it and cut your profile after you lay the veneer. That's a "scare the hell out of you" cut because if you mess up the profile cut, you can ruin the top. But no guts, no glory.

Mike
 

Sam Blasco

Member
Messages
359
Location
Smithville, TX
Long grain for aestetics, for sure... Lots of good advice here... Maybe something else to consider is to make the leaves out of a contrasting wood, maybe a wood you use for highlight in the rest of the table.
 

Bartee Lamar

Member
Messages
499
Location
Alpharetta GA ( Metro Atlanta)
Jesse,

How wide were your boards for the top glue up?

What what your glue up process ?

What process did you use to get the top flat after glue up?

Thanks....

BTW, I think you table is REALLY nice. I like the look of the top.
 

John Hemenway

Member
Messages
138
Location
Santa Rosa, CA
Our current table is 42x62 and seats 6 w/o leaves. Each leaf (16") adds 2 places. Putting two people on each end seems a bit crowded. I'm not sure a 6" wider table would improve it much.
Assuming you don't normally seat 10, having 10 for a meal implies an event (Christmas, etc.) and having the room for all the extras on the table would be nice. That extra corner space comes in handy then. Like Mike, I also wonder if passing across a 48" wide table would work.
Of course this is all VERY dependent on the space you have to put the table in. Be careful, it might call for a remodel or move! :)
 
Jesse,

How wide were your boards for the top glue up?

What what your glue up process ?

What process did you use to get the top flat after glue up?

Thanks....

BTW, I think you table is REALLY nice. I like the look of the top.

Hey Bartee,
Thanks for the nice words on the table.
There are 7 boards of random width, largest is about 7 1/2 inches. I spent a lot of time trying to match grains so it may look like the boards are wider than they really are. I also put on a dye and a glaze to ease the transitions from heartwood to sapwood. Altogether its 40 inches wide

The glue up process was nothing fancy. I glued up two assemblies, and then glued those to together. I don't use biscuits or anything for alignment, just feel it with my fingers and apply pressure till its level. Clamps every few inches.

Actually, my new avatar shows the flattening process. I used a long jointer plane and winding sticks. Its a slow but satisfying process.

Having said all this, I think the folks suggesting substrate and veneer have the right idea for a really big table.
 

tod evans

Member
Messages
4,993
Location
ozarks
jeff, i`ve waited to see if any of those smarter than i am could come up with a practical method of seating 10 people `cause for a family of 3-4 to have a table capable of seating 10 and use it daily just isn`t practical. a 4` wide table requires all but those with the longest arms to stand in order to pass food, a table 10-12` long with the accompanying chairs is a major space hog to be used only a few times a year.......one possible solution would be to build either sofa or display tables in the same species at the same height that could be called into play at family gatherings? for a "formal" dining table i tend to agree with veneer, for an arts-n-crafts style daily use table i`d opt for solid wood in a managable size...or sizes...tod
 

Jeff Horton

Member
Messages
4,272
Location
The Heart of Dixie
I have been sitting back reading and absorbing all the info. Guess it's time to reply now.

First, space is not an issue. It's a rather larger Dining Room. That was one of the design criteria of t his house. We designed the house ourselves.

Have not tried the 48" width but I will assume you guys are correct (for now). That was a figure in some design guidelines I found and it fits the room. I assumed it meant 2 people on the end to seat 10 people, but I am not so sure. The legs are to be on or near the corners so that makes putting 2 people there very awkward.With a tresle base they could be near the corners and that might work.

The table would be more of Shaker style table than mission. I would prefer a mission with a tresel base but that not what she likes. I got my way on the trim in the room. Wood paneled walls, coffered beams on the ceiling ect. So she gets her way on the furniture. (Thats how we made it 25 years now!).

This table will only be used with company over. Very rarely will just the two of us eat off of it. One of the other projects is a island with eat off bar(s) on each end for the kitchen. We eat there 99% of the time anyway. So the tables primary use is for groups of people. Depending on the size I setlle on that may mean skip the leaves.

Length wise 9' is a good length for the room. Leaves walking room around the table with people seated. The room is 16'-6". 10' table is probably good too. But I think at that point it starts to get a little snug to walk around someone sitting at the table. That is something we both don't want.

Of course this is all VERY dependent on the space you have to put the table in. Be careful, it might call for a remodel or move!

John, this is the new house. :D

Veneer is not an option for a couple of reasons. Never done it and don't want to learn on such a big project. Besides I am solid wood kind of guy. I am funny that way. :rolleyes: And the style of the house is VERY traditional Arts and Crafts and want the furniture to be very traditional too. And did I mention I don't know how to do veneer??

Well, back the Lab. Trying to figure what the heck is going on with the tractor.
 
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Bartee Lamar

Member
Messages
499
Location
Alpharetta GA ( Metro Atlanta)
Not meaning to hi-jack the thread, but this is sorta part of making a large glued up top.

I got a little experience with the flattening process on the end table I am building.

Doing this for a dining room table would be a lot bigger project, but as Jesse said, an enjoyable piece of work.

Here are the pictures

IMG_0254.jpg IMG_0256.jpg
 
Messages
161
Location
Stockport, England
Can I just add another two pennerth about big tables?

Back in the day I had a furniture store and would often be asked if I could supply a dining table which would seat four or six 364 days a year but would then seat twelve on Christmas Day.

After playing with all sorts of extending tables with variable degrees of success I started advising people to buy a nice fixed dining table for everyday use, and an 8x4 sheet of 3/4" plywood for the garage.

Christmas Day, place the sheet of ply on top of the dining table and cover with a tablecloth. Seats up to 14 easily!

Crude, yes; but still the best and most cost-effective solution.

Cheers
Duncan
 
Messages
1,407
Location
Villa Park, CA
I remember visiting the Gamble house in Pasadena and saw a dining room table there that expanded a great deal. I wasn't really interested in a big table at the time so I don't remember how it was done. I do remember that it used leaves but there was a major difference between minimum and max size. Maybe someone here has seen that table and can make some comments on the design.

While veneer can be a problem if you've never done it before, I wouldn't be surprised if you're close to someone on the forum who can help you.

Mike
 
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