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Hardwood flooring as material for table?

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  • Hardwood flooring as material for table?

    I want to make a smallish table / kitchen-cart that will go into the semi-covered patio. (That is, the top is covered but rain splashes in at times. )
    So I thought I should use some weather resistant wood, beyond Cedar. Maybe Teak or Cumaru or Acacia

    Trouble is, that type of wood is not easy to find, or cheap.
    But I did find it at flooring shops, selling solid hardwood for floors, satisfying all my needs: 3/4" thick, around 4 to 5" wide, and about 3 to 4 ft long. And by my calculation, much cheaper than exotic wood at lumber stores.

    So any ideas on how it'd work out? I am not just taking the table top, but also for all of it: the legs, the aprons, the shelves, etc. Any problems I am not seeing?
    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
    - Aristotle

  • #2
    Id probably mount the top 3/4 flooring on a piece of Marne plywood. The rest of the table is just glue up flooring boards to whatever size you need for rails and legs.


    • #3
      Originally posted by capncarl View Post
      Id probably mount the top 3/4 flooring on a piece of Marne plywood. The rest of the table is just glue up flooring boards to whatever size you need for rails and legs.
      I did something like that almost 40 years ago. I mounted cherry over plywood (not marine grade) but it was not an outdoor table. I screwed each board to the plywood and butted up next to each other. Boy was that a kind of disaster. The cherry expanded in humidity and contracted in dry seasons.
      I glued the table top together before screwing it to the plywood from below. Worked well for about 3 months; then when inside an air conditioned house and humidity down below 50% at all times, the glue joints were not match for the humidity

      If the flooring is pressure treated it might withstand expansion/contraction being an outdoor table. You need to check with the flooring people on this.

      The reason that plywood is stable is not because it is cross sectioned (crossed ply is what give it strength) but what prevents it from expanding and contracting is that once wood is plyed into 1/8" and thinner sheets - such as laminates, its contraction and expansion forces are GREATLY diminished. Add to it the glue. and it is dimensionally stable.

      There are ways to add boards to plywood backing that allows for contraction and expansion of the table top. I call them slip joints.
      1. Basically, glue up the top boards
      2. on the plywood and under each board drill a hole for the middle of the board above it (above the plywood), but drill 3 to 4 holes side by side (for each board) and clean out a slot (expansion slot) with a narrow chisel. Screw the screw in the middle of the slot. If you do this for each board on both ends, it will allow for expansion and contraction of the top boards and they shouldn't split in humidity changes

      OR, If you glue up the top boards as a unit (table top) and attache it to a frame up under, Rockler and LeeValley have slip joints for attaching it that way:,41309&ap=1
      Hank Lee

      Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!


      • #4
        Yes, agreed - I'd need to use screws with elongated slots to join the top to the lower layer. And I could laminate the boards for the legs.
        It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
        - Aristotle


        • #5
          Dang guys, I have to plead a senior stupid moment! Maybe I could claim it was a spell check error? I probably build 20 tables a year and deal with wood expansion and cracking nearly every day building tiny trees and know that plywood base wont work. I use a domino cutter to make the slot for expansion screws, it beats drilling a series of holes and wallering them out to make a slot. The thing about a wood table top, if it decides to warp, crack or simply expand, there is no amount of screws and slots you can put in the bottom to keep it from moving. You have to be very selective in choosing you top planks. In my wifes 38 x 71 antique barnwood pine table I dont think I fastened the top to the rails with any more than 6 screws, 3 on each end.


          • #6
            Here is a simple way of attaching a table top to a cabinet or table without a lot of fasteners. The cleat with a single hole anchors the front in place and the adjoining cleat with a slot allows for movement. Click image for larger version

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            • #7
              One thing you want to do when using narrow slabs is to choose your pieces wisely. Pieces that have the grain running across the width of the board will warp or curl. The flooring boards will probably be tongue and groove, be sure that the tongue and the groove are both cut with plenty of 90 degree to the top surface wood to glue up. For flooring purposes it isnt necessary to have this glue up surface as the boards will be nailed to the subfloor. The tongue and the groove sides may have to be cut off.
              You dont want your table top to warp up like this large pine table did. Not mine. The sides must be over 1 higher than the middle of the table. Note the failed attempt to correct the warp on the bottom of the table slab. They didnt have a clue.

              Click image for larger version

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              • #8
                A friend of mine back in the 80's made a beautiful coffee table from oak flooring only needed a saw, drill, block plane, and glue. He positioned the long enough boards so that they sandwiched together with the tongues standing up and bolted them together with glue and all thread

                Planed off the tongues and sanded by hand Beautiful job. Later, he made one with the grooves up and glued in walnut to the grooves. Stein

                Tell me where you live in the big apple, and I'll tell you where to buy odds and ends of lumber on the cheap.

                Another guy I knew, made a beautiful coffee table which had glass blocks for it's top. Beautiful clear and polished blocks (not those opaque things with the ridges.)