Keeping the Top Flat

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How many times have you experienced diis at the lumberyard? You pull the top sheet from the stack of plywood or particleboard. The exposed face has picked up moisture from the open air, while the other face, having been virtually sealed against the sheet l>eneath it. has stayed more dry. Is this sheet flat? Though we think of sheet goods as being flat, we all know from experience they aren't. One face gets damp, the other stays dry: The sheet cups.

But you want a FLAT tabletop. How to get it? Start with a flat sheet, of course. Don't accept that bowed sheet.Then you get the material into your shop and give it days or weeks to acclimate to the shop's temperature and humidity before working it. When you laminate two layers, always orient any crowning in. The bowing of one layer will counteract that of the other, leaving you with a flat tabletop core.

Then apply plastic laminate to BC )TH sides of this core, and seal any exposed edges of the core. If you apply laminate to one side of plywood or particleboard or even MDF. you are setting it up for a warp. The laminated side will stay dry. but the unlaminatcd side can pick up moisture. The panel is out of balance. The damper side will expand, the

The tabletop core car be made of several different materials. You can use MDF (top), particleboard (center top), plywood (center bottom), or Baltic Birch plywood (bottom).

Va" plywood

Plastic laminate is bonded to an edge-banded core. Bevel-trim the laminate.

Vi" X IW hardwood

Plywood layers are bonded with yellow glue.

Vi" X IW hardwood

Va" plywood


Square the substrate Plastic laminate and glue hardwood edge-banding to it.

Plastic laminate is bonded to an edge-banded core. Bevel-trim the laminate.

Cutting List

Part Qty. Dimensions Material

Core plies 2 fc" X 23H" X 36" Birch plywood

Edge bands 2 Va" X Ifc" X 17 ft" Hardwood

Edge bands 2 Va" X I X 2SYs" Hardwood

Top surface 1 Me" X 26" X 38" Plastic laminate

Bottom surface 1 Me" X 26" X 38" Backer

The tabletop edges can be finished several ways. You can carefully square the top before applying the laminate, then laminate the edges as well as the faces (top). You can apply the laminate, then glue on ft- to I -inch-thick edge-banding cut from maple, oak, or other durable hardwood (center). Or you can edge-band the plywood and run the laminate out to the edge of this assembled core (bottom).

panel will cup. In contcxt. your router will be in a subdc saucer. Here's what to do to prevent this:

• Laminate both faces to create a balanced panel that will stay flat.

• Seal the edges as well. If you apply hardwood edge-banding, seal it with a couple of coats of finish.

• Paint or otherwise seal the edges of the mounting-plate opening.

• Skip die miter gauge slot in the tabletop. It's unnecessary, and it breaches the seal.

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Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

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