Friday, October 16, 2015

Flip Top Table Slide System

For anyone unfamiliar with what a flip top table does, check out this video.  Take your time.  I'll wait.
M'kay?  Good.

So I went to the Stickley showroom and took some photos of how they put their table together.  I'll leave those photos here, just for the sake of being thorough, but the one to pay attention to is the view from underneath the table.

This is the important photo, at least for this blog post.

Alright, so Stickley uses two guide rails positioned 6" from the inside face of the aprons, with 1 cleat on each guide rail attached toward the center of the table (rather than on the apron side of the guide rail).

Then they have a center stiffener and crosspiece separator to keep everything uniformly parallel and prevent any bending or bowing during the life of the table.  They used pocket screws to attach the separator to the guide rails, and notched the separator up into the stiffener.  This is necessary because the guide rails really need to stay parallel to one another to avoid impeding the smooth action of the slide.

I changed a few details from Stickley's method, not because I think I know better, but because I like to solve a puzzle by finding my own solution... and I like to overbuild.

I didn't like the guide rails so far out toward the aprons - mainly because of seasonal wood movement in the table top.  With their cleat arrangement, if the table top expands in humid months, the cleats will push against those guide rails making sliding more difficult.  Worst case, they'll prevent the table top from expanding and worse problems may arise.

In all likelihood, quarter sawn white oak won't expand that much to be a problem.  I calculated the seasonal wood movement to be ~1/4" across a 40" wide table top of quarter sawn white oak.  That's not much, but I'm weird, so I chose to hazard on the side of caution.

I chose to position my guide rails at 1/3's of the width of the table base.  My thinking is that it more evenly distributes the racking forces on a table and it moves the cleats a little more toward the center of the table top, where wood movement effects more minimal.  Also, by having my cleats on the apron-side of each guide rail, if the table top expands, the cleats just move away from the guide rails a little bit.  No big deal and no wood is prevented from moving when it wants to.

From underneath you'll notice that I'm using double tenons to attach the guide rails to the aprons, instead of a sliding dovetail that Stickley uses.   I am using a sliding dovetail to attach the stiffener, though.  And my separator isn't pocket screwed to the sides of the guide rails.  I'm going to dovetail it instead.  Overkill, but I like dovetails.  They're pretty.

Stickley screwed in their corner blocks.  I'm gonna dovetail mine in.  I've never done a dovetail on a 45° angle before.  Should be fun.  If it doesn't work out, I can always get out the drill.  :-)

So that's what I'm working on now.  Stay tuned for more.


Unknown said...

Do you actually walk into Stickley and start photographing and measuring? I hav been there and try to be discrete with my pics and never pull out a tape. I think it's great, just, just wondered if they say anything to you?
Mike Gilmore

Steve Erwin said...

Pretty much.

I mention to the person at the front desk as I enter that I'm a woodworker and that I'm researching dimensions for a project and that I'd like to snap a few photos of a couple pieces. They come right out and say that woodworkers are welcome and photos and measuring tapes are perfectly fine.

Once, I had several questions about their finishing process that went over one rep's head, so she went out back and asked one of the former finishing guys to come speak with me. He was able to give me some excellent insight into their methods and even sent me home with 2 factory finishing samples.

Every time I've been there they've been perfectly hospitable. Just be polite and you should be fine.

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