Wood Table Tops

Wood Table Tops

The top of a table may be solid or veneered. When small and cheap work is desired it can be made of solid wood; but otherwise it should be built up and veneered. Solid wood tops shrink, crack, or warp. The only sure way of avoiding these unfortunate occurances is to "build-up" the top while still unfinished. The building up process consists in constructing a core of some common, well-dried, lifeless wood, preferably chestnut or pine. This core is of several strips of wood doweled together at the edges until a board is made about the size of the required top. These strips are arranged in a way that the annular rings curve in opposite directions in each alternate piece. The core is next cross veneered on both sides with hardwood, generally oak. A cross veneering is laid so that the grain is at right angles to that of the wood on which it is applied. In table work it is at right angles to the grain of the core and the finish veneer; both of these naturally follow the length of the top. All round the edge of the top, after it is cross veneered, is fastened a strip of the finish wood of the table. Finally, both sides are again veneered with the finish wood; that is, if the wood is not too expensive. If it is costly a cheaper veneer is placed on the underside.

Top Edges

When the design calls for the edge of the top to appear thick it is a needless waste of material to construct it of wood the full thickness, besides making an unnecessarily heavy piece of furniture. To avoid this, and yet obtain the appearance wanted, a frame of wood is fastened to the underside of the otherwise thin top, giving the thickness required. This frame is called the lining piece and the top is said to be lined up.

Fastening Top to Frame

The method of fastening the top to the frame of the table varies with the class of work, and the size. If it is a small table no special care is taken, the fastening consisting of screws driven through the rail into the underside of the top. If the rail is narrow and thick enough the screw is set straight through it. If, however, it is a wide rail the screws are driven in recesses cut for them on the inner side. Most tables are too large to admit of this method. A top fastened as just described is held fast to the frame so if shrinkage takes place there is a strain somewhere that may result in a cracked top. To allow for any movement that may occur short blocks having a tongue that fits securely in a groove cut on the inner side of the table frame are screwed to the underside of the top. These blocks hold the top firmly in position and yet if a shrinkage takes place they are free to move in the grooved frame.

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