A customer of mine, recently, bought two slabs of 4/4 26" (yes, 26”) wide board about 16 foot long each of Honduras Mahogany . He wants to make a dining table using these two slabs. I understand that I need to take care of warping, cupping and crack. I have read and been advised to rip it and joint them back together with alternating “cup” pattern. I told him that, but he doesn’t want to do that, for he wants to keep its grain pattern.
What do you think if there is anything wrong to do as follows:
1. Route several dovetail slots, don’t know how many yet, across the grain on the underside of the table top.
2. Make some long “dovetail pin” that would fit in these dovetail slots.
3. Glue these bars to the dovetail slots.
Thank you for your advice.
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor D:
What will the understructure of the table be? A conventional 4 (or 6) leg design will allow for several cross members to tie the two long aprons together. A small plow in the cross members, as well as around the upper aprons inside, will allow the use of wood clips to hold the top and allow for expansion. The top also can easily be removed for future refinish, moving, etc.
Do not fasten or glue any wood cross grain to these boards - that would be the biggest mistake you could make. Float the top on a nice sturdy frame. Join the two boards for grain, forget the mythological cup up/cup down unless you are putting this outside. 8/4 x 3-1/2" aprons would do it.
I would not attempt trestle table or slab table with 4/4 boards. Perhaps a two/three pedestal table with a decent support frame. In any case, determine the moisture content of the boards and insure it is correct. If not, explain to your customer that he is now a gambler, but you are still just a woodworker. You don't want to gamble with his wood.
One of my suppliers told me that the price of mahogany is high right now (compared to last year) because there has been some 'paperwork' issues with some illegally cut lumber in that region of the world.
As I understand it, very little comes from Honduras. It and neighboring countries have already been heavily 'harvested' and do not have much to export in mahogany.
Contributor U - you may be thinking about rosewood and its restrictions. Brazilian rosewood is the species that is now illegal to transport across international boundaries. So when the people from the overcrowded cities in Brazil take up the government's offer to become subsistence farmers, they end up out in the jungle and burn off their 10 to 20 acres. Used to be, if there was a rosewood log, they'd haul it out and get $25 for it. It would end up on the world market at market price. Now, with the export illegal, they just burn it along with all the other trees 'in the way.' Logging is not a pretty scene anywhere, but represents less than 20% of the deforestation in Brazil. The rest is all agriculture, from subsistence farmers to huge international conglomerates farming everything they can. A Chinese company is the biggest rice grower in the world, all in Brazil, all on recently cleared land.
There have been examples of enthusiastic customs officials seizing musical instruments and such, for their rosewood content. One must now have documents stating that the rosewood was cut before the international CITES class 1 ban to move from country to country.