Fine Woodworking

Drawings: Michael Gellatly

Pocket-hole jig. Construct a small jig to hold the apron at approximately 10° while drilling pocket holes with a Forstner bit.

A hole in the pocket. Drill a smaller-diameter pilot hole for the screw that will be driven Into the tabletop.

POCKET HOLES

moves seasonally across the grain. It's a fact; you can't do anything to stop it. In the summer, a board will expand across its width because of an increase in humidity. During cold months in a dry, heated room, the same board will shrink and become narrower. If no allowance is made to control or direct this seasonal movement, a tabletop might buckle, or worse, crack and split.

When calculating how much a board will move, I usually allow from Vs in. to 3/i6 in. for eveiy 12 in. of width. Therefore, I would anticipate that a 42-in.-wide tabletop might move about V2 in. overall. This is only a general guide, and certain factors must be taken into account. For instance, in parts of the country with low humidity, wood movement might be minimal.

Another factor is the type of wood you're using: Cherry moves less than white oak but more than mahogany, while flatsawn wood moves more than quartersawn. For more on this subject, read Understanding Wood by R. Baice Hoadley (The Taunton Press, 2000).

Once you accept that the tabletop will move, you can control or direct this movement so that it doesn't disrupt how the table works or looks (see drawings, below). For a freestanding table with a uniform overhang, I anchor the top to the base at the center of the end aprons. That way, any cross-grain movement will occur evenly along each long-grain side. On a demilune (half-round) table, I pin the back edge of the top, which typically is placed against a wall. Conversely, on a writing table I might fix the top along the front of the table so that movement occurs toward the rear.

For this article, I have illustrated four methods of securing a table-top. The methods are listed by ease of installation, starting with the simplest. The hardware for two of the methods can be purchased relatively cheaply from hardware catalogs, while the rest can be made from shop scrap. This is a low-budget process.

A longtime woodworker and teacher, Mario Rodriguez builds furniture and teaches classes at The Philadelphia Furniture Workshop.

If one side of a table is going to be used more than the others, secure that edge to the apron and confine seasonal movement to the opposite edge.

This is probably the oldest way of attaching a tabletop. Drill a %-in. fiat-bottomed pocket hole at a 10° angle into the apron. Then drill a smaller pilot hole (to accommodate the shank of a #8 wood screw) into the center of the pocket hole.

Common on antique furniture, pocket holes make no allowance for wood movement, which may explain the number of cracked and split tabletops. On small solid-wood tops (up to 9 in.) or veneered plywood tops, pocket holes can be the only attachment method. On larger pieces, they should be limited to areas needing restricted movement.

Pocket-hole jig. Construct a small jig to hold the apron at approximately 10° while drilling pocket holes with a Forstner bit.

A hole in the pocket. Drill a smaller-diameter pilot hole for the screw that will be driven Into the tabletop.

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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