Hardwood goes for a premium price, and larger pieces even more so. Then, what is a person to do if he wants to make a beautiful hardwood tabletop without spending the big bucks?
Veneered plywood is one option, but if you want to make a tabletop out of solid hardwood while saving money, gluing together smaller pieces can be a very easy and visually appealing way of getting your tabletop.
Here, I am working with cherry turning stock.
I made this tabletop, from start to finish, at Techshop in San Francisco. Great place!
Visit their website at: http://techshop.ws/
Step 1: Cut the Rough Stock
Use the bandsaw to cut the rough stock into smaller planks. Keep in mind that you'll lose at least a 1/4" on all dimensions through the process of jointing and planing.
Keep track of which planks were cut next to which. This way you can match the patterns for a "bookmatched" effect on the tabletop.
Step 2: Planing and Jointing
Smooth one broad side of each plank using a jointer, and using the jointed side as a reference along the fence, joint one long edge of each plank.
Then, using the planer, plane the height of each plank down to how thick you want your table to be. Leave about an 1/8" for sanding.
Step 3: Last Cut on the Tablesaw
Here we cut the last long edge using the tablesaw.
Step 4: Glueup
One of the most fun parts of making a tabletop- the glueup. Using bar clamps covered with wax paper, put the table together for a test run before putting glue on anything. Once you pour out the glue you are going to have only a limited time to work, so you want to be as prepared as possible.
Have a wet paper towel on hand to wipe off the excess glue once you're done gluing up.
To glue the tabletop together, use wood glue. Get a cup and a brush, and brush every meeting face with glue. Then clamp it up!
Step 5: Final Prep Before Shaping
After about 1 or 2 hours, your tabletop should be dry enough to take out of the clamps. Be careful with it though, as the glue needs about 24 hours to completely dry.
Using a scraper, scrape all the excess glue off of the tabletop. This should be easy.
Next, use scrapers and sanders to set the surface level and smooth.
Step 6: Final Shaping
There are a variety of techniques you can use to shape your tabletop once the sanding is finished. I used a router and a circle jig to cut my tabletop into a circle. I then used a table router to round off the edges.
This was a very cheap way to create a solid cherry tabletop. Good luck making yours!