I really appreciate the opportunity to bounce tough questions off other professionals.
Got a job lined up for an L-shaped bar, 21 feet on one leg, 7 feet on the other. Corner is radiused. Quartered sapele. Starting with 8/4, which I'll skip plane and then rip (joint and plane) into 4 (maybe 6) inch blanks before laying out for design, glue-up and final milling.
This will be shop-built, and transported 200 miles to the location. Finishing will be done on site.
1. At 21 feet, I'll need at least 1 joint. For ease of transport, I might like 2. I think a butt joint would be nasty looking, but I've not seen any to make any comparisons. But I'm not sure an interlacing joint would look any better - unless I made the weave-lengths random/staggered. A random pattern is absolutely doable, but at considerable expense in time and materials.
2. The curve. Several ways to make the corner, but the only one that works with my "staved" design is to make successive 4 inch wide arcs (cold form or brick-lay on the outside 2 or three, haven't decided) and glue them together. It gets tricky at the two joints where the curve meets the straight. A butt joint is simple, but not pretty; an interlacing design is better, but trickier by an order of magnitude. (I can get time on a CNC to make patterns for the arcs). I'm pretty I don't want to do a mitre, but I'd listen to someone who has done it successfully. (That would be the easiest of all, but might be problematic in the long run).
Does anyone have any experience with these decisions? Pics would be nice, if you have suggestions.
1. Do the 21' in one piece in the shop. Rent a trailer of box truck to deliver.
2. I would lay up the corner as an oversize octagon (using 22.5 degree cuts instead of 45's so there are two joints and a straight instead of one cut in the corner. You will have less waste and a little less end grain showing.), and then saw the radius.
I would also suggest a one piece top, and a large trailer.
However, miters will not work on a wide solid board. Think of your 20" or whatever width of solid wood moving 3/16" with seasonal RH variations. That 20" is now 20-3/16" and the angle of the miter has actually changed as a result. Even if you 'glue it real good' as they say, it will then compress all the wood fibers so that when things shrink back, the top will split at the miters. This can only be avoided by making a stable panel - veneered, but with thick shop veneer.
I would prefer to make the entire top as a stable part - with a core of MDF. Butt or scarf the surface wood for length, and make the curve as a bend - bending the wood in a smooth radius. Using solids about 1/4" thick will work well, and allow for many refinishes. Do similar on the back for balance.
The finished top will have the flow around the corner and will look unlike any other bar top.
I'd like to deliver in one fell swoop, but it unfortunately wouldn't fit through the doorway.
The biggest issue for me is in the layout - where to put the butts or scarfs. I've searched the net for pics of long bars, and haven't really seen anything. The existing bar looks kind of like floring, which I'd really like to avoid.
We used to use titejoint fasteners for this application, but have found "zipbolts" to be a real improvement. Available from Mcfeely's among other sources, they fit into two 35mm holes connected with a groove and are quickly tightened with a drill mounted pinion gear driver.
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