Edging Round Tabletops

Advice on efficient and effective methods for gluing a 1/8-inch wood edge onto a round tabletop. January 14, 2009

Does anyone have the perfect method to gluing a 1/8" thick edge-band around a 48" round table? We tend to glue one joint first, with about 8" on either side, and let it dry for an hour. Then we continue around the table, using a large web band-clamp and tons of clamps, stopping 6" shy of the final joint. We then cut the joint to fit (usually a tad long and then block-plane to fit). The process is laborious, and even with all our clamps, it seems inevitable that the edging wants to pull away from the edge of the tops. We use 3-4 layers of 1/8" bending poplar and a layer of 1/4" wiggle wood as our cauls. Any proven techniques would be appreciated!

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor K:
It's just as you say, a laborious job. Did you ever consider an ultrasonic Woodwelder so you could finish the job in one stage and try gluing and banding the entire slip and weld all but the last 6 inches? Cut and fit to perfection and refit band, zap with the Woodwelder. Job done!

From contributor D:
Forcing a thin piece to the bend means that it is going to try to undo your efforts for the life of the table top. Depending upon the radius and the core stock, this could be a real problem.

Any type of edge will call for cauls as true as your table edge, and with a bit of spring built into them to assist the clamping pressure and cut down on the number of clamps and complexity.

One solution would be to laminate the edge band out of thinner pieces - say 3 plies at 1/16" thick - to the radius, then apply. Another solution would be to steam bend, but I am unsure of how the moisture will impact sizing, stability, etc. A third solution would be to use a solid wood rim of sawn (or routed) curved parts - 6 or 8 or 10 to go the 360 degrees, with butted joints. Add a spline (blind or exposed) if the rim is more than 2" wide.

A fourth solution would be to add the edge to the core stock, then veneer the face and back to help bridge the core stock/edge band gap and reinforce it.

From contributor M:
Start with an 8:1 feathered edge on your banding material. Wrap the banding all the way around and up the ramp, so that you end with the excess running out of the circle on a tangent. Use face frame clamps for this so that you can start at the feathered edge and work around without building shear stress into the glue line. After it dries, trim the leg off the banding along the finished circumference. Now you have a continuous banding with an 8:1 splice instead of two butt joints, and you only have to wait for it to dry once.

From contributor B:
Contributor M has it right. 30+ years ago I worked for a Danish fellow in Rhode Island who made a lot of round tables. We always tapered the lead edge of the band, circled the table with one strip and then up the ramp. A strap clamp held it in place with wedges driven in as needed to pinch the edges.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the advice. I have a question about the tapered edge idea. How do you avoid a large glue-line where the overlap tapers to nothing?

From contributor M:
I use Titebond 2, and as such don't deal with glueline problems much. If you like thicker bodied glues, you could bore for and drive a dowel at the tangent point before trimming the excess banding, thus creating an inlay to replace the feather. This, however, seems like silly dental work, since we're talking about an 1/8" banding, right? I don't want to corrupt what's working for you, but give that old tec yellow stuff a try. Perhaps, you'll even enjoy that your glue-up isn't toxic.