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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Custom Gaming Table - Part 2 - Marathon Lamination

Once the legs had been built, it was time to start working on the structural members of the table itself. Each of the sides would require a top and bottom rail to simultaneously enclose the plywood side and serve as a platform for additional internal structures (oooh - foreshadowing). The table also needed four primary beams to span the length of the table forming the top and bottom of the back and the top and bottom rails of the sliding doors. As all of these would need to be relatively thick, we decided rather than trying to get walnut in the right thickness (which would be both expensive and susceptible to warping) we would laminate thinner boards together to provide not only additional strength, but lessen the tendency of the long boards to warp with changes in temperature and moisture.


In the photo above you can see the stringers for one side of the table. The boards have been laminated and shaved to true using a joiner rather than a planer as that allows you to get far closer to square than with a planer. Note, the grooves for the side board have not been cut into either the legs or the stringers at this point - that's a later blog (ooooh - more foreshadowing!).


Actually laminating the boards together to get the required thickness is a fairly entertaining process in of itself, and since so much of this structure ended up being made from laminated walnut, I thought it would be a good idea to go through the process from start to finish. In the photo above (and below) you can see one of the long boards that runs down the length of the table. The edges of the board itself have been taped using painter's tape to prevent any glue drips (and oh... there are glue drips!) from soaking into the edge of the board itself as this would make it far more difficult to get a good even finish on the final piece.


We're using Titebond II for all of the gluing on this particular project. Even though the table is only going to be used inside (where regular Titebond would be fine), and the glue joins don't need to be completely waterproof (well, heavily water resistant like you get with Titebond III) it is being built in an open shop which can get damp. Especially in the Oregon rainy season - which runs from October through roughly May!


Once both sides have received a liberal dose of glue, they're lined up and clamped. To say you need a lot of clamps to make this work is a bit of an understatement as the photos above and below show. Ideally you want to see a lot of glue squeezing out along the length of the board indicating that there aren't any gaps in the adhesion between the two boards. As the glue dries, some of it will be sucked back into the join forming a very tight bond.


Once the glue has dried, the clamps and tape are removed (if no more boards need to be added) or additional boards are taped up, glued, and clamped to make an even thicker structure (below). This allows you to make any required thickness of board for the structure. In the picture below a third board has started the gluing process.


The process is essentially the same as before, you just have to be careful to get everything lined up properly to ensure that a minimum of material is lost when the piece is trued up using the joiner. The nice thing about the joiner is that even if there is some tape or glue on the edges that is difficult / impossible to move, it will be taken off in the process resulting in a very smooth surface (though it will still need sanding before final finish).


As you can likely imagine, I've become very good friends with clamps, blue tape, and glue. To make the structural stringers I had to fabricate:
  • Two table end bottom stringers (2 piece lamination)
  • Two table end top stringers (2 piece lamination)
  • One table back top stringer (2 piece lamination)
  • One table back bottom / shelf stringer (3 piece lamination)
  • One table door track top stringer (3 piece lamination)
  • One table door track bottom / shelf stringer (4 piece lamination!)
In future blog entries you'll get to see these other pieces coming together and the final construction of the sub-assemblies!

1 comment:

  1. Would you have any interest in building another Spartan table, on commission?

    ReplyDelete