Where were we? The base was done but the top needed attention.
Nature did most of the heavy lifting on the tabletop. I just needed to position the grain correctly and concentrate on tight joinery. The only downside of these gorgeous slabs was their thickness: at only 13/16′ or so, I needed some creativity to beef up the profile look. The boards just didn’t look weighty enough to marry with the base. After much contemplation, I devised the scheme below. I’d take advantage of the boards being 8′ long and 24″ wide. We clearly didn’t need (nor could we fit) an 8′ long, 48″ wide table. This meant I could use the extra length and width to trick the eye.
By making cuts as described above I could create a side profile “bookmatch” and an end grain “bookmatch” on the ends (spoiler alert: the end grain bookmatch was a bust but the side profile was perfect). With the plan in place, I just needed to know how much to trim during Cut(s) 1. So, using the box from a big screen TV, I mocked up the final size and placed it on our existing dining table. With dimensions in hand I took a red lumber crayon to the wood marking triangles so I knew how to put it back together for the bookmatch.
After installing a new rip blade for my tracksaw, and lots of flipping these massive boards back and forth, I knew all my head scratching had paid off.
Now I had to get a little bit of twist out of the two boards. I started with a new Lie-Nielsen “8 and the longer workbench I made for our community shop several years ago.
With one side flat (or so I thought), I contacted the community member who operates our CNC. Before you take away my hand tool card, hear me out. Some of the grain was quite gnarly, which makes for a pretty face but difficult planing. Here’s what it looked like on the CNC table.
Although the CNC made short work of flattening, it also caused a problem. My initial hand planing hadn’t been as precise as I’d like. I think the Naked Workbench (i.e. 2×12’s right off the rack from Lowes) design hurt me a bit here. You see, like Mike Siemsen recommended, I never flattened the bench; I just wanted to get to the good stuff. Fast forward 2 – 3 years later, and my reference service wasn’t flat at all. Therefore, although my winding sticks appeared to be coplanar, there was still quite a bit of twist in one of the boards. This cause a slight misalignment when we flipped the board around on the table. The second board came out perfectly because we clamped it down to the CNC surface very tightly. I had to go back to the hand planes anyway to remove the 1/16″ discrepancy you see in the final picture. Lesson learned.
In the next post I’ll go into the details of gluing up the top and beefing up the visual weight.