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Dining Table

Listing #366   Listed on: 06/24/2006

Company Name: Unique MesquiteThis is a dining table commissioned by a client. It is 48 x 96. It is made of 8 sets of book matched Burl Mesquite, using 4 boards. It has 2 - 18 leaves. The pedestal is a section of a 24 solid mesquite tree trunk, that weighs about 275 -300 lbs. Overall the table weighs 800 lbs.
The top has inlaid mesquite stars in a pecan border and the pedestal and apron have 3d pecan stars. The black areas are filled with black epoxy. The project took 5-6 weeks for one man to complete.

View Larger, Higher Quality Image

Pic 2

View Larger, Higher Quality Image

Pic 1


Viewer Comments:

Posted By: Leo     [06/24/2006]

Looks great!

I hope it doesn't blow itself apart due to expansion and contraction forces, because of the solid attachment of the pecan border.

Posted By: James     [06/25/2006]

Beautiful work Vern. I can't wait to see the chairs that go with it.

Is the top solid wood? Is the mesquite a veneer? Is it attached to anything underneath? I am planning to build a harvest table from some very long mesquite boards I cut this last year (7 to 9 feet) so I am very interested in how you attached everything.

Leo, even if it is solid mesquite it won't blow itseft apart. Mesquite is the most dimensionally stable wood I have ever been able to find. Tangential and radial shrinkage are equal. The pecan may move but it should expand outward since the radial face of the pecan was attached to the mesquite and the flatsawn face will be free to expand and contract.


Posted By: Dave S     [06/25/2006]

James - Would you care to place a friendly wager on the life of this pretty Mesquite table? Any one else want to get in on a gentleman's diversion?

Remember the two rules of woodworking - 1. All wood moves
2. All woodworkers will disagree as to the specifics of #1.

If the Mesquite is solid wood, (not thin solids laminated to a stable core and balanced) it will move. This has nothing to do with slight or great differences in radial and tangential numbers. It has everything to do with changes in humidity. Finish will not stop it, but can slow it down a bit. Just a bit. Read Bruce Hoadley

Theoretically, this could be placed in a super stable relative humidity and it will last - and I'd loose my bet. But, in the real world, the humidity changes - the relatives all show up and take 2 showers a day, the basement floods, or the interior of the house is painted, and the humidity goes up. Then it goes down. The wood is responding all this time by moving - infintesimally it may seem, but moving. Sooner or later it will break open a glue joint in that perimeter frame if it swells, or pull away from the frame or split the Mesquite if it shrinks first.

Now, any takers on my bet?

Posted By: Anthony     [06/25/2006]

Since the table is split across, for the insertable leave(s), won't that protect from expansion and contraction?

Posted By: Vern     [06/26/2006]

I hope this will answer some of the questions.
James is right about stability.

The table is 3/4" solid mesq glued and screwed to a solid 3/4" substrate of mdf.

I always prefer my pieces to be in a completely stable environment.... However this piece has been sitting in the front of the shop for 6 months now. It will get up to 100+ from the direct sun in the AM so far no noticeable changes as you would expect with most woods. Still waiting on the customer's home to be finished.

The pecan border is held on by under mounted counter top clamps and epoxy.

I am very familiar with the rules and laws of wood movement. But consider this.
When the rules were created the technology of glues etc, etc, were at a certain point now that technology has changed we have introduced a new variable into the equation. I am also dealing with mesquite not oak or walnut and regardless of peoples opinions there is a vast difference.
During the creation of these rules most homes were not climate controlled as they are today. I have made a lot of pieces this way for a long time and as yet no real problems with any.

Just for fun I was watching Marks make 2 tables with the same basic design, slab top and slab legs. On the first he attached the legs to the top with strips and elongated holes citing the rules of wood movement we all know. Then later I saw him build the same table attaching the legs to the top using mortis and tennon joinery totally contradicting what he said and we know..... now what do we make of this?

Posted By: James     [06/29/2006]

Hey Vern, thanks for the info. I was considering using MDF under the top for the harvest table I will build. More for stability/strength when it gets moved than for dimensional stability. Since mesquite is such a short-grained wood, when it gets thin it also seems to be brittle and will snap in unexpected places, especially with burl, at least that is what I have experienced.

Dave S,

Sure, I'd be happy to engage in a gentleman's diversion. But it has to be reallying interesting and unusual. Also, we would have to set a timeframe and a future look at the table. Timeframe is the easy part but the future look at a table in someone's home several years from now will be more difficult.

Btw, great website. You do really nice work. I especially like the table (second pic) on the furniture page. Are there any chairs that match it?


Posted By: Vern     [06/29/2006]

No chairs James. I hate chairs and only make them if it means selling the table.
I am working on a table design now and they may want chairs.

Posted By: Molloy Studios     [07/03/2006]

All this fuss about movement, I guess no one has ever seen a 18th C. table... Back in those days all they had was hide glue and not the fancy stuff you-all use today. (giggle) What would you boys do without MDF, and those high teck glues...


Posted By: JC CLARK     [07/07/2006]

What would we do?
We would do the same as they did then
and as we should now, build it to allow for
wood movement.
That means no cross-grain glue-ups of solid wood. Simple solution.

Posted By: mfauller     [10/08/2006]

Fellers -

I can tell that some of you haven't worked on real antique furniture. About 98% of real antiques were built incorrectly. The people that built this stuff were obviously skilled much more than most of us - but what they lacked were the science & study of wood. You can see dovetail drawers that we can't replicate with lasers on a piece that is veneered on solid pine with no backer. What do we end up with?......A nice looking chest with drawers that run great - where the faces of every piece are cupped, and there are cracks at every expansion/shrinkage point.

I don't care what type of glue you use. The wood moves. As a business person you should be making things that are planned to last as long as possible. If not for the customer - then for you. Why would you make a product if there is question of its' longevity? It could cost you big bucks in the long run.

Posted By: vern     [01/05/2011]
James the table was finally picked up by the owner in 2010.
Fortunately he paid for it in 2005.
No problems with the table especially since it was not kept in a climate controlled environment.
A light sanding and respray due to very minor wood movement that would have been expected in anything that stayed in a shop with these climate extremes for 5 year.

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