I was recently contacted to build a rather large table top for a friend of a friend. After a visit to my favorite exotic wood supplier (Houston Hardwoods…I’ll do a write up later) he settled on Jatoba. Jatoba is commonly called Brazilian Cherry but is not actually part of the cherry family. Jatoba is often used for flooring, tool handles, athletic equipment, furniture, and is twice as hard as oak and extremely dense and heavy. It is hard on tools so I will need to have all my knives and blades sharpened after I finish the project but it should make an incredibly durable table top. John (the future owner of the table) recently returned from Saudi Arabia where he purchased a dual pedestal table base designed for a massive 9′ by 4′ table top. I’ll be doing this write up in multiple parts as I work on the project over the next week.
~75 board feet of rough cut jatoba.
- Table Saw
- Biscuit (plate) Joiner
- Lots of Clamps
- Router with 1/2″ beading bit (for edge detail only)
- Pocket screw jig (could use a counter sink bit)
The jatoba comes rough cut. This means that there is still bark on the wood and none of the faces are true (flat) or perpendicular/parallel.
The first step is to mill one face of the wood using a planer. After milling one flat surface turn the plank over and run it through the planer again. This ensures that these two faces are parallel to each other.
Now that two faces are flat and parallel I moved over to the jointer to true up one of the narrow edges. By holding one of the flat surfaces against the fence and running the edge over the cutter head I’ve ensured that the edge is true and perpendicular to the faces of the board.
Now holding that newly milled edge against my rip fence I cut the opposite face on the table saw. Now all the edges and faces are flat and parallel/perpendicular.
I still need to run the cut edge through the jointer to remove the saw chatter (marks left by the vibration of the saw blade)
Even though the saw chatter is very minor it still affects the seam between the planks during the assembly of the top.
Now to layout for the biscuits that will be used to strengthen the seams during assembly. The first step is to lay all the pieces out as they will be during final assembly.
I’ve also made sure that the wood is laid out in such a way as to match the grain along the seams as much as possible. Once I decided on the finial layout I marked the position of all the biscuits. By marking across the seam while they are laid out I know that the pieces will assemble easy during glue up.
Next, I cut all the biscuit slots.
Finally time to glue the parts together. I chose TightBond III for this project for it’s long work time and superior strength. After coating all the surfaces with glue and inserting the biscuits it was time for lots of clamps!
This is the first two of what will ultimately be a five plank wide table top. The glue is still drying as I type this so that’s all for now. I’ll post more as I complete this project.