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Doing an island for a client that looks old but has bells and whistles behind the doors and drawers.
You're going to get cross grain construction on the ends if you do that. Something will crack with seasonal changes.
That will work as long as the drop at the ends runs in the same grain direction ("waterfall" style). I would want some splines or biscuits in those joints and between the side and end drops for peace of mind. Be sure to allow for wood movement when fastening to the cabinets. Consider using 2" thick cleats running across the width fastened with washer head screws in slots to control cupping.
what is the look your customer expects? waterfalling ends might work , but definitely doesnt look old, or natural. boy if the money was there some custom milled and dried bookmatched slabs 3 inches thick wiith keys down the joint and live edges could be awesome.
Kevin, if he water falls the sides and the ends, the seam of the two waterfall sections will be cross grain. The miter at that seam will fail.
I think a 3' wide crossgrain joint at the corners, if re-enforced properly, would survive- I have seen many stile and rail joints with wider sections.
If it is to hold like your rail and stile comparison, there better be a mortise and tenon, or cope and stick for the joinery. Never seen a rail and stile butt glued.
See my first post. I was not suggesting a plain miter joint at the corners. If I were doing this I would incorporate splines oriented to allow for assembly. You are right to point out the cross-grain conflict, but I think it could be dealt with.
If I were doing the job I would probably use a torsion box construction with shop-sawn veneer. Slab construction as Doug suggests is a possibility, but difficult to source at 3" thick, and heavy. This is the sort of decision that is best worked out before the job starts so that the client's expectations and the budget are in sync.
For something 3" thick, I'd think about making a torsion box and veneering it with 1/16 - 1/10" shop sawn veneer. You could waterfall the ends, or you could use end grain veneer on the ends so it would look like a 3" thick slab. I've done that on thinner cross sections w/o problems. Anyway, a torsion box would be a lot lighter, though still heavy if you wanted it to be, and it would be and stay flat over time.
I usually thickness by gluing up a longer/wider top, then cutting off strips and accordion-folding them down. On the ends, I like 3" long pieces. The accordion fold gives an interesting pattern to the end grain.
No problems with cross-grain, everything stays in the same direction.
I also like Jimbo's method and use that whenever I need to do a top that's thicker that I can get with 8/4 lumber. The tables shown have tops 2.5" thick, which were made from 5/4 panels which were about 5"- 6" oversize in length and width. This method eliminates any cross grain construction pitfalls and gives you the thick top look with 1/2 the wood.
Jimbo and Duster,
How do you join the corners of the dropped edges/ends?