Edge joining

abrown

Active member
Good evening all,
It's been over 3 years since I've visited this site due to many personal issues, inter alia. I've started back in my hobby by building some small end tables, and in the process, it seems I've forgotten some of my earlier tricks. In making the table tops, I seem to remember that it was acceptable to flatten only one side of each board (two per table top) to "approximately flat", match plane them, glue up, plane to thickness and flat to enough to sit on the table frame (legs and aprons), then finish plane the top side to an acceptable finish. At least that's how I remember the process. The stock I'm dealing with is cherry, but it presents with a variety of challenges: cup and wind. My question is, because I refuse to use anything but hand tools, is this a reasonable approach? I've completed two of three tabletops, but with the maximum expenditure of effort with scrub, fore and jointer plane. I don't mind the work, but I don't want to miss an obvious step. I would like to know this is how earlier wood workers approached this task. Because of the inherent imprecision in this process (absent electric joiners, planers, etc.), I would imagine earlier wood workers would take similar shortcuts. Attempting to get two boards absolutely flat on both sides before edge joining seems an exercise in futility. Get one side (on each board) flat, glue-up, then treat the two as one board when attempting to flatten and thickness to final dimension. Am I remembering this correctly?
Thanks in advance,
Allan
 

Peter Storey Pentz

Well-known member
Allen,

While I cannot presume to know what every furniture maker did "back in the day" I have found that generally they did as you suggest where it did not show and where hands would not feel it such as the underside of the top of a fixed table top or the insides of case pieces.  It seems that they were concerned with getting things dimensionally correct and avoiding splinters.  (We must remember that an infection in a world without antibiotics can prove fatal.)  Like you, the pre-industrial furniture maker was concerned with using time and energy efficiently and effectively.  The idea of all surfaces being 'perfect' for its own sake is a product of the Industrial Age and it relies on industrial methods to achieve it.  PSP
 

abrown

Active member
Peter - thanks for your reply. Good information. That's how I've proceeded, and it seems to make sense. I appreciate the validation. It seemed intuitive -- and it has worked! Agains, thanks. What a great forum for such a narrow range of interest!
 

ttalma

Well-known member
Even with power tools your process sounds correct.

I take my rough lumber get it close to size. I run the edge on my jointer, then use a plane to remove the ripples from the jointer (I mainly do this because I use hot hide glue and a rub joint, the machine edge can't be rub jointed) and join the boards, I then joint and plane the glue up as required.

(I used the word joint, or it's variant enough times in that previous paragraph people might think I'm from Colorado!)
 

cstanford

New member
Allan D. Brown said:
Good evening all,
It's been over 3 years since I've visited this site due to many personal issues, inter alia. I've started back in my hobby by building some small end tables, and in the process, it seems I've forgotten some of my earlier tricks. In making the table tops, I seem to remember that it was acceptable to flatten only one side of each board (two per table top) to "approximately flat", match plane them, glue up, plane to thickness and flat to enough to sit on the table frame (legs and aprons), then finish plane the top side to an acceptable finish. At least that's how I remember the process. The stock I'm dealing with is cherry, but it presents with a variety of challenges: cup and wind. My question is, because I refuse to use anything but hand tools, is this a reasonable approach? I've completed two of three tabletops, but with the maximum expenditure of effort with scrub, fore and jointer plane. I don't mind the work, but I don't want to miss an obvious step. I would like to know this is how earlier wood workers approached this task. Because of the inherent imprecision in this process (absent electric joiners, planers, etc.), I would imagine earlier wood workers would take similar shortcuts. Attempting to get two boards absolutely flat on both sides before edge joining seems an exercise in futility. Get one side (on each board) flat, glue-up, then treat the two as one board when attempting to flatten and thickness to final dimension. Am I remembering this correctly?
Thanks in advance,
Allan

That's how you do it.  it is more important to flatten the side of the top that registers to the apron than the side facing up. 
 
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