In the last blog post, I wrote about the processes involved in the first stage of making a dining table top. Stage 1 was essentially the picking and 'roughing out' of the timber. Stage 2 is machining, ripping and edging the boards before gluing up.
The fist process is to surface plane one face of each board before running them through the thicknesser. We need to surface plane them first in order to get one completely flat face. If you try to run a board that's not flat through the thicknesser, whatever shape it is will be reflected as it's thicknessed. i.e. if you start with a twisted board you'll end up with a twisted board to thickness.
One we've got a smooth flat face on each board, we can run them through the thicknesser until we get to a couple of millimetres over the desired thickness. In this instance we were making a dining table with a 45mm thick top. So we machined the boards to 47mm and left them for 24 hours. Leaving them for 24 - 48 hours can help to stabilise the timber, reducing movement later on. 24 hours later we repeated the process of surface planing and thicknessing, just to 'iron out' any movement over night. We skimmed over the top on a fine cut setting and then took the final 1.5mm off through the thicknesser.
Then next process is square edging. Again this process is done over the planer, but this time we run the side of the board over the blades with one face against a square fence; the aim being to get a lovely clean square edge that can be glued to another clean square edge.
When we make a dining table table top, we don't aim to cut each board in the top to exactly the same width. The nature of the raw material we use - beautiful characterful slices of tree - will to some degree dictate what widths we can get and it'd be terribly wasteful if we made each board in the table top the same width; it would lose its individuality - its soul.
Once we've got one square edge on the board, we set the saw and cut to width, making sure to get rid of any defects, before edging the other side.
In the next post I'll be writing about the processes involved in stage 3 of making a dining table top - the glue up.