Making a Table, Part One / Milling the Top

The log arrives

This table was built for a client of my previous employer, the Birdseye Woodshop ( in the neighboring town of Richmond, VT, and my former manager Jonathan Schumacher has generously allowed me to use the documentation shown here to illustrate the process of building a table from scratch.

Trimming edges

The customer is a collector of Americana and wanted a wide cherry dining table to fit the neoclassical character of his home on Lake Champlain. It was to be about 44" wide and 10' long, with a hand-planed top. If we could have made the top in one piece he would have been a happy man,  but had to settle for a two-piece match. We sourced an entire log about 27" in diameter and 12' long from Horizon Wood Products in Pennsylvania, sliced into 2" thick planks and kiln dried.

Flattening the planks

The first step was to open up the bundle and select the two boards to be used for the top. The center slices were avoided due to the instability and checking around the tree's pith. The farther you go from the center, the smaller the plank width. The pieces I chose for appearance yielded a finished width of 42".

I trimmed off the bark and sapwood and the ends with a hand-held circular saw, then flattened the planks with a router jig running on parallel beams, as they were too wide for any jointer I know of in these parts. One side made flat. the planks were taken to another shop with a 36" planer to make the opposite face parallel, about 1 3/8" thick once the cup and twist were removed. The two pieces were then run through our wide belt sander prior to joining.

Straightlining on the sliding saw

The mating edges were cut on our sliding table saw, then aligned with Lamello biscuits and glued up with bar clamps. Once the glue dried, the top was squared up on the slider and hand-planed, ready for  the breadboard end caps.

The glueup