Saturday, May 5, 2018

A Barnsley hayrake table 3, making the tabletop

With the frame of the table completed, I started making the tabletop.
The top was going to be fairly large, so I figured that it might be a good idea to use the frame as a base for the glue up.

I planed the individual boards to the same thickness and laid them out so that I could mark them according to one another and keep that reference as to when I was going to glue them together.
Last time I made a similar sized tabletop I had the idea that it was going to be easier/better to glue up all of it at the same time. It might have been a bit faster, but the results were far from what I had envisioned when I started doing it. So this time I decided to glue it up piece by piece instead.
The results was better this time, and the glue up was a lot less stressful. But it did take a bit longer time. I told myself to wait minimum one hour before removing the clamps and adding the next board. It worked brilliantly.
To avoid getting glue on the cross stretchers, I had placed some plastic garbage bags over them to so that any glue on the underside of the tabletop would be prevented from reaching the completed frame.

I had toyed with the idea of using loose splines between the individual boards, but I decided not to do it since the one board at the time approach would allow me to get a pretty flat surface from the start anyway.

When the top was glued up I sawed it to the correct width using a hand held circular saw.
I crosscut the ends taking into account how much the breadboard ends would add to the length once mounted.

I laid out the location of the mortises on the breadboard ends and made them using the chain mortiser. I then cleaned up the bottom of each mortise with a chisel. The groove for the stub tenon was made on the table saw. I made sure to allow ample of room for wood movement on the outer mortises, and less for the mortises nearer the center of the breadboard end. The center mortise was made to the "correct" size.

On the table top itself I used a router to remove all the required wood so I ended up with two giant full width tenons - one on each end.
I then marked up from the breadboard end where each of the 7 tenons should be.
The waste between the tenons was removed using a coping saw, and I used a shoulder plane and a jack plane to adjust the final thickness so that I had an appropriate fit.

Holes for the pegs were drilled in the breadboard ends, they were then dry mounted, and the location of holes transferred to the tenons.
Offset holes were drilled, and I made sure to make elongated holes for the outer tenons, so that they would be able to move when the table dries up. The single benefit of working with wood that is usually wetter than a house is that wood movement is always going to be in form of shrinking, so I normally only have one direction of wood movement to worry about.

The center tenon got a bit of glue, and the breadboard ends were attached using some pegs made out of elm.
The top of the peg also received a bit of glue, but only the part that would end up in the breadboard end. Just to make sure that it would't pop out (I don't know how it should do that anyway though..)

Almost there.

Gluing on he final board. I have only two clamps that will span 48"

Routing out for the giant tenon (testing router methods)

Trimming the fit.

Breadboard end in place.


  1. Jonas,

    All is looking good but my back hurts just thinking about it. It will be a beautiful table, MsBubba has been asking for a dinning table for awhile now, I keep putting her off but the time is near.

    Reason for a "Hay rake" other than because?


    1. Hi Ken

      Thanks for the nice comment.
      You nailed it pretty accurate with the reason for the hay rake. I just like the look of it, and it gives a visual interest in the base of a table that I often don't see.

      A lot of rustic looking farm house tables in Denmark have a nice looking top and then all is messed up because of a strange base. Either some welded legs or a much too large and bulky looking X at each end etc.

      It is not the easiest base/frame to build, but I like a challenge as much as most woodworkers, so that is also a reason to do it.

      A funny thing is that a lot of non woodworkers find the base interesting, which is not that common if you have a more regular styled base. Not that I build to attract attention from others, but it is nice when people comments on something like that.

      The table can easily be made a bit more delicate without loosing the ruggedness. My top ended i being 10' x 4', so that is why I scaled up the base to a beefier look.

      I think that Barnsley originally wanted to return to the form/function with this table, so that is why it isn't decorated, but merely chamfered to remove weight where it wouldn't compromise strength.

      I have followed pretty close in the footsteps of Don Weber in this build.


    2. 10' is a large table, but your first post said something about 198", which is over 16'. Either way, I'm impressed that you got such a good glue up at that scale. And that you add some glue to pins that will probably never come loose. Great table.

    3. Hi Jeff.

      Good catch!
      I hadn't seen that.
      The table should be 300 cm, which is very close to 118". Or almost 10'
      I never thought that it looked wrong with 198 until you noticed it :-)
      But that would have been a freaking large table if I had made it that size!!
      And my shop is not that big (sadly).

      Best regards

  2. Very nice table.
    I wish I had permanently enough room for one like that.
    My dining room table dimension can vary from 63 cm X 115 cm to 240 cm X 115 cm. I didn't build it, I am not equipped to make dovetail sliding rails (nor do I have the skills). But it can be bought:

    As regard 'I have only two clamps that will span 48" ', did you consider using "Spanish windlasses". You can exercise a lot of pressure with them. You have to protect the edges of the board otherwise they will be marred.

    1. Hi Sylvain
      Thanks for the nice comment.
      A large table has the problem that it will attract a lot of clutter. At least in our family, so a smaller version is not necessarily a bad thing :-)
      I actually thought about using cargo securing straps, but it worked fine with adding two clamps together to work as one.
      My need for that long clamps maybe arises once every four or five years, so most of the time I would just be moving them around and cursing over that they take up permanent space.


  3. That thing is huge. You have the perfect shop for such a build. I'm thinking of building a table in my Munich woodshop sooner or later, and haven't worked out all the logistics yet. I'm thinking if I built something as big as yours I'd have to do it outside. Not ideal.

    Nice job with the glue-up. I've yet to have a tabletop glue up turn out as nice as you did here. That saves a lot of work.

    1. Hi Brian

      Actually I think this is about as large a build as I can safely incorporate in the shop. But building it outside would definitely be less than ideal.

      There were still a couple of places where the top wasn't 100% level, but I was positively surprised at the outcome.
      The problem is that it is difficult to joint such long boards on the sides, because you need somewhere to mount them.

      Perhaps I should build a "skottbenk"

      Another advantage of building one of those is that you are accepted as a member of the Norwegian Skottbenk Union!