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Methods that permit wooden to maneuver with the seasons.
About a decade in the past, I made a drop-leaf desk for a ebook of tasks. When it got here time to mount the highest, I simply drilled pilot holes and drove minimize nails by the highest into the aprons. Are you horrified? Actually, the strategy labored nice. In the years since I put it collectively, the highest has remained sound and firmly affixed to the aprons. And whereas I don’t hesitate to make use of this strategy when the circumstances are proper, resembling on an off-the-cuff kitchen desk, there are numerous higher methods to mount a tabletop to its stand.
You may connect a tabletop to its stand with blocks glued securely to each the aprons and the tabletop. This doesn’t permit the tabletop to develop and contract, after all, and the ensuing stresses ultimately will cut up or buckle the highest.
And herein is the problem: How to forestall wooden’s ongoing growth and contraction from destroying the meeting or itself. The tabletop should be held tight to the leg meeting, however in such a method as to permit the highest to develop and contract.
Most woodworkers know this, after all, and I believe that’s why so a lot of them cringe on the considered face-nailing a tabletop to its stand. Well OK – it could even be an affront to their aesthetic sensibilities.
To make it a bit simpler, let’s assume right here that the tabletop’s grain is sq. to a rectilinear leg-and-apron stand. That is, two of the aprons are parallel with the tabletop’s grain and two are perpendicular to it. The form of the highest – sq., rectangular, spherical, oval, free-form – has no bearing on this. The grain route, and thus the route of growth and contraction, is what’s essential.
If you’re constructing a desk with curved aprons, or no aprons in any respect, you’ll need to extrapolate from my examples to suit your particular design.
Glue & Screw Blocks
An improved model of the glue-block technique is to safe blocks or ledger strips to the aprons, then drive screws by them into the tabletop. This is a wonderful strategy, as long as elongated pilot holes, correctly oriented, are used to permit for seasonal growth and contraction of the wooden.
First of all, the grain of the blocks ought to parallel the apron’s grain. Wood motion doesn’t have an effect right here, so you possibly can glue, nail, or screw the blocks to the aprons. But earlier than you do, bore pilots for the screws – you need to use screws, not nails – to safe them to the tabletop.
At the middle of the block that runs cross-grain is a “fixed pilot,” a gap matched to the diameter of the screw. This screw anchors the tabletop to the leg meeting; all of the motion happens on both aspect of this level. Flanking the mounted pilot ought to be pilot slots that parallel the block’s grain.
The blocks that run parallel to the tabletop grain ought to have solely slotted pilot holes, and so they should be oriented throughout the grain.
Making the mounted pilot is, after all, easy. Drill a gap. But making the slots is extra of a problem. Typically, I take advantage of a 3⁄16” twist drill bit within the drill press. I place the block with a skinny (low) fence clamped to the desk.
Drill holes to delineate the ends of the slot, then nibble away the waste between them. A twist bit, after all, skitters off the wooden into one or the opposite of the holes, however it doesn’t take lengthy to kind a trench. Lock the quill and slide the work forwards and backwards alongside the fence to tidy the slot.
With the fitting form of screw, one with a washer-like head, you need to use 1⁄4“-wide slots, which you’ll be able to produce simply with a Forstner bit. This is rather less making an attempt than utilizing a twist bit, as a result of a Forstner doesn’t wander.Although I’m a devoted router consumer, I don’t view this as a router job. The diameter and size of bit obligatory – 3⁄16” to 1⁄4” – makes routing an iffy proposition, in my view. You additionally want two setups, one for the cross-grain slots, one other for the long-grain ones.
Were I to deal with this as a router job, I’d rout the slots in a large board, then rip the strips from it. Then I’d lay out the slots and use an edge information to place the long-grain cuts and information the router. Next, use a T-square to information the cross-grain cuts. Just eyeball the start and finish of every slot, and make every slot with a collection of cuts, every plunged progressively deeper.
It’s fairly frequent as of late to skip the blocks and simply drill outsized pilot holes instantly within the aprons. You can run lengthy screws straight up by an apron’s edge and into the tabletop, or by angled pockets minimize in an apron’s inside face. The latter strategy works higher for me, as a result of it lets me use shorter screws.
Creating the pockets and pilots is best when you have a pocket jig and associated equipment, however it’s not the one method.
With a drill press and Forstner bit, you can also make very tidy, uniform pockets. Lay out the pocket places on the apron. Chuck a Forstner bit within the drill press – I often use a 1⁄2” dimension. Hold the apron at an angle and bore the pocket. The design of the bit allows it to slice cleanly into the wooden to kind a flat-bottomed pocket.
The actual trick right here is setting and holding the apron on the proper angle. You sometimes see the apron cradled in a nifty custom-made jig. Is such a jig worthwhile for the occasional mission? I don’t suppose so. I take advantage of two fences: One is upright to lean the apron towards, the second is a flat entice fence set towards the apron’s backside edge to carry at it the right angle.
I set up the angle by laying it out on the top of a scrap of the apron inventory. I’ll often put a small rule on the scrap’s finish and draw an eyeballed angle from the middle of the sting to a spot 11⁄2” to 2″ up the within face. If you like to make use of a sliding bevel, set it to about 15°.
Chuck a twist bit within the drill press, decrease the bit virtually to the desk, and lock the quill. Line up the structure line with the bit, setting the upright fence so the apron is tilted excellent. Then slide the entice fence towards the apron to maintain the underside edge from skidding ahead and altering the angle. Change to the Forstner bit, set an apron in place, then bore the pockets.
After boring all of the pockets, change again to a twist bit and bore the pilots. Most of those pilots should be elongated, after all, however with pockets, that is often achieved by rocking the drill to develop the exit gap. You can’t do that on the drill press so change to a hand drill. Rock the drill parallel to the aprons that shall be throughout the tabletop’s grain, and throughout the aprons that may parallel the grain.
Buttons are Better
And there’s one more resolution, and it’s one I typically use when establishing a desk. It makes use of “buttons” spaced across the tabletop contained in the aprons. A button, typically known as a cabinetmaker’s button, is a small block, roughly 11⁄4” sq. and 3⁄4” or much less thick. It has a tongue, which you stick right into a groove minimize within the apron. You then drive a screw by the button physique into the tabletop. Over time, because the tabletop expands and contracts, the button strikes with it. As it does, the tongue strikes alongside, or out and in of, its groove within the apron.
The apron grooves could be by or stopped. Some use by grooves within the aprons that cross the tabletop grain, as a result of the button’s tongue will transfer alongside the groove. But they use stopped grooves within the long-grain aprons, figuring that right here the tongue is transferring out and in. I have a tendency to make use of stopped grooves throughout. I’ll divvy up an extended apron’s size for 3 or 4 buttons, however use solely a single one within the middle of a brief apron.
Through grooves could be minimize on the desk noticed or routed with a straight bit or slot cutter. Stopped grooves are a router proposition, or you can use a biscuit joiner.
To make sure the tabletop is held tightly to the stand, design the button so its shoulder is barely shorter than the house between the apron’s prime edge and the groove. When screwed to the tabletop, the button ought to be barely pitched. The tongue ought to be barely thinner than the width of the groove. To accommodate the pitch, you could have to chamfer the tip of the tongue.
First, determine the thickness of button wanted, mill a scrap board, and minimize a rabbet throughout every finish. Crosscut a strip about 1 1⁄4” lengthy from every finish, then rip the strips into buttons about 1″ huge. Drill a pilot gap by the physique of every button.
With any of the attachment strategies I’ve described – glue-and-screw blocks, screws in pockets, buttons – remaining meeting entails setting the tabletop, present face down, on the bench. You upend the leg-and-apron meeting and align it on the highest. Then you drive the mounting screws.
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