Stone in a Solid Wood Table Top

Thoughts on setting stone into a wood top so it won't cause problems and will look good. March 30, 2008

I am making a Brazilian cherry table for some loyal clients. It is 2" thick, and needs to be solid wood. The top is 54" x 28 1/2" and they want two 18" square pieces of granite sunk into the top. Here's the kicker. The only stone I can find is countertop material and it is 1 1/4" thick. Do you think the seasonal movement of the wood can handle the invasion of that much stone?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor J:
Properly built, yes, it can.

From contributor L:
Make the transition from stone to wood decorative instead of trying to make it seamless. For example, chamfer the edges of the cutout and make the cutout slightly larger. Then support the granite from beneath the table so that the granite just lies in the cutout. I'm sure there are many other solutions.

From the original questioner:
Thanks, the chamfer is an idea I had thought of too.

From contributor P:
What sort of granite do you need? You should be able to get it in 2cm if that helps. You could also get it in 3/8" if there are any stonemasons around. If the design of your table could allow it, you can leave the middle of the table unglued and even gapped. One of my guys makes tables like this in his spare time. He's also a stonemason. They look nice and the gap allows for movement. This, with a loose attachment at the aprons, will keep the top from buckling when it pushes against that granite.

From contributor W:
I made a coffee table using 1 3/4 solid oak and didn't want to have to float the solid top on the legs. I wanted the legs to dovetail into the top. So I made the top as two pieces, glued up as a solid top 29" wide (60" long) then cut it apart in a long shallow S curve. Gapped it 1/8" more than calculated max wood movement and let the movement all occur in the middle.

One article author used the same ideas by mounting the rocks on a plywood base attached to only one side of the top. In your case the two pieces could be separate and on opposite sides. The big thing I did was explain to the customer about wood movement and what to look for from winter to summer. It has now become a conversation point with their guests.