Floating Tops

I keep seeing the term "floating top construction on case pieces and tables" used to describe a lot of furniture, like on Ethan Allen table tops. This terminology is also used in their catalog. I can't seem to get any satisfactory explanation from anyone on what this actually means. Can you clarify this terminology?

Bill Herbert Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

Basically what this means is that when a solid wood, table top is attached to a base, it's not glued in place. It's usually attached with some sort of system to allow the top to expand and contract during the changes in h umidity from season to season. If the top were attached so that it couldn't move, it won Id warp and/or split as it tried to expand and contract.

There are several ways to accomplish floating top construction . Using buttons to attach the top, (as in the oak table in Woodsmith No. 15) is one way to do this.

Another way is to screw (no glue) the top to the base through a slotted groove. (This was done on the six-drawer chest in issue iVo, 17.) The groove allows the screw to move with the top as it expands and contracts.

Whatever the method, the idea is to allow the top to expand and contract while still being attached to the base. The same type of problem often pops up with raised panels. That's why the panel in a raised panel door is always inserted loosely, to allow for expansion and contraction.

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