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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Client I did an addition for wants me to build him (3) tables (2 coffee, 1 bar) out of sections of the Rockerfeller Center christmas tree that came from his FIL's property.

He was told to have a hole drilled in the center and coat them with latex paint. Then, leave them in a garage standing on edge for 2 years.

Now.....I have them.

I have never made anything out of slabs like this before (which I told him) and am trying to figure out the best way to do it.

Each has opened up one large crack towards the center. I will be inputting a piece of walnut and bowtie-ing it. Also, making the simple, splayed leg bases out of walnut.

My big question as I begin is.....
They have warped (pringled) quite a bit. I am trying to get the tops flat and of equal thickness and having a hard time keeping them flat enough to get started.

I made a temp frame out of 2x material, and once I released the pipe clamps.......it simply bent almost all the way back.

They average about 3"+ thick and roughly 3'-6"+ in diameter. I am assuming I will either have to use a 3x6 frame, or thin them down to a manageable 2" or less.

Any ideas.....experience with these kind of slabs?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Now that......
is super slick!

I have run through all the usual suspects, and landed on power planer as the rough out tool of choice.

Stabila to attain flatness......Hudson on standby with the "you are a world-class dipchit" look.

Figure I will get em real close, build and attach the bases......then do the flatness thing all over again????????? and get ready to trim a leg here and there????????????:censored:
 

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Some obvious points - these are going to be a good bit thinner than 3" once you get them flat.

Personally, I use plywood on the backside to attache the legs - it's too east to split the top, IMO. The top is held to the ply with a few bolts, with enough play in the holes in the ply to allow for some movement.

Just a quick note about using a power planer for something this big - I've always wound up with ridges at the edge of planing passes. These can be more work to get out than you'd imagine.

Clamping it flat won't do anything for you. Sealing it whenever you aren't working on it is pretty helpful - I just use spray shellac, but it trashes some sand paper when you start again. One coat on the back that stays in place throughout the process, and a coat on the front if it's going to sit. If I was smart, I'd probably just wrap it in plastic instead....

When you put a finish on this, put the same finish on top and bottom.
 

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I re-read this.

No, you only do the flatness thing once, especially since sanding end grain sux.

Make it 3 legged, so you don't have to trim them:laughing:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I actually got the first one really flat with the planer, by running in four directions and dropping my depth of cut as I went. Using the laser to double check helped early on.

I got some beasting planer gouge ridges in the beginning, but as I worked through it, the started to disappear until they were easily 80grit belt sandable.....then Rotex in rotary.

I came up with a new plan for the bases, but I'm concerned it may not be prudent.

Instead of oversizing the lumber for the apron of the walnut base, I decided to make a rectangle with 4x4's and an x in the center. Here comes the problem..... Do you think I can Timberlok that to the bottom to keep it rigid and flat, or do I have to attach brackets to it so the top can move. I have some great, stout L's for attaching table tops, but I'd rather send it deep with lags.....they aren't that stout.

Then i will just wrap the "real" walnut apron around the stronger hidden "frame". Saves on walnut.....
 

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The top has to move. Instead of screwing Timberloks in, consider recessing for some hex bolts and epoxying the heads into the recesses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The top has to move. Instead of screwing Timberloks in, consider recessing for some hex bolts and epoxying the heads into the recesses.
I don't follow.

Recess hex bolts? Epoxy?

As always, thanks for the advice.:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The top has to move. Instead of screwing Timberloks in, consider recessing for some hex bolts and epoxying the heads into the recesses.
As I was working on it, I figured out what you mean.

Rout recesses into the underside of the top, aligned with slots in the frame.
Drop the frame on.....apply washers....nuts.

Can't I just slot the frame.....blast some T-loks into the top?
You're concerned that the top won't like being penetrated so rudely by a big screw? That it'll open up at those points down the road?
 

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You'll need to attach the top to the base. The attachments need to be able to let the top expand and contract without sticking at some point. If you put a screw into the top, that's a stress point, and screwing it in is going to stress it from the get go.

The table has to survive being moved around, bumped into, the normal stuff. The top is a slice of pine, so it is a softwood that splits pretty easily with this orientation. If you make the walnut trim / base so that it's naturally moved / carried by the walnut, then that prevents normal handling causing splits. The rest of any jarring, etc still has to be taken up by the slice of pine.

If it weren't relatively fragile, you could use a traditional furniture attachment method. I forget what they're called, but basically, it's a special screw that has wood screw threads on one end and machine screw threads on the other end. It would get screwed into the top, and the machine screw part would go down through a slot in the base and have a washer and nut - the nut isn't tightened all the way.

My concern with doing that in this case is screwing it into the wood creates stress, and any bumping / use stresses are concentrated on the relatively small threaded part. I think there are a few ways of getting around this.

One would be to inset a small piece of plywood at the attachment sites and use the traditional screws. Another may be to just predrill the holes for the screws a little large, and epoxy the screws in. The epoxy in the larger hole gives a larger bearing on the wood, so it would spread out any stresses more, and the predrill would keep the screw from stressing it by screwing it in.

Recessing the hex bolt head into the wood and epoxying it in place just seemed a convenient way to go. The nut gets almost tightened, just like the previous hardware.

You may want to grab a slice of the same species and at least get a decent idea of how easily it splits, even if all you can get is a much smaller green slice.....
 

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Can't I just slot the frame.....blast some T-loks into the top?
You're concerned that the top won't like being penetrated so rudely by a big screw? That it'll open up at those points down the road?
I see we cross posted:laughing:

Yes, if putting them in starts a split on the backside, they'll continue to split from the get go, and if an over stress starts a split, it'll keep going.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I see we cross posted:laughing:

Yes, if putting them in starts a split on the backside, they'll continue to split from the get go, and if an over stress starts a split, it'll keep going.

Why do I say yes to these phucking things.....constantly?:rolleyes:

First top was large enough, and thin enough that I couldn't flatten it as it sat......so I will need some "hold" to my fastening system.
Second one is much better, and I am flattening it under no stress or fastening to a base. (but I assume it will potato chip any minute now anyway).

Shellac-ing as I go......thanks:thumbsup:

I like the idea of the plywood inlay. My only issue is fastening that to the top. I have zero faith that epoxy on endgrain will hold very well. Maybe epoxy plus pocket screws????? The angle may help???

Another issue is the rectangular base can't get out far enough to get purchase on the furthest ends that want to curl.

Also....starting to wonder what inputting the walnut to fill the large single drying crack is going to do. Do you think it will just seek another place to open up? I am hoping it has gotten it's fill over the past two years. The walnut, on edge. should help stiffen the table.(?)

I keep getting this feeling that I will be revisiting these things for the next 10 years.
I have had long discussions with the client about all these things. Basically threw in a ton of disclaimers...."I can't promise that it won't _________ or _________." He seems totally cool, but I want them to be right.

Thanks for sticking with me on this. I'm considering going to the vodka any minute now.:laughing:

BTW...not getting any splitting. Just not getting enough grip to pull that thin Pringle biaatch into line. Lemme post a pic of what I have so far. Just don't laugh too hard.
 

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People have been making these for centuries. What's the problem here?:laughing:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
The first one.....the problem child.

Can't abandon her, as much as I'd like to.

T-Lok's just temporary. Replacing with bolts.....ply inset.

I realize the 4x4's are a bit much, but I HAVE to bend this one like Beckham. As you can see (2nd pic), the TLok spun/stripped out, and I couldn't get it back to flat/tight.
 

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You're hosed on your pringle piece. You just have to do the best you can. Normally these would be cut extra thick, air dried (as was done). Then you flatten the back first, but you don't clamp it flat - it'll just spring back. Flip it over and do the front, again, not clamped flat.

One thing that may be helpful to you is stabilizing the wood. It's done with things like burl bowls and such, but it's not my thing, so research away. My recollection is it's things like ethylene glycol or glycerine. It MAY be possible to not allow for much movement if it's stabilized - pure speculation on my part.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Now this one (2nd) had enough meat to work with.

Enough for me to break out the chainsaw to do the initial rough. Worked out surprisingly well. Saved a chitload of planing.

This one was done at full rest......both sides.

Much more promising.
 

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