Mixed-Wood Countertop Details

A discussion of glue-up, sanding, and fastening issues for a countertop made with alternating strips of maple and mahogany. March 1, 2006

I have been asked to construct a wood countertop for an island. It will have alternating runs of maple and mahogany, each run 1.5" wide and the runs will be splined. The top will be 8' x 4'. I generally use Gorilla Glue on a glue-up like this, but I wanted to get some opinions on different types of glues, such as white or yellow. Has anybody had any bad experiences where the glue joint opens, etc.?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
If you have a jointer, you don't need splines. I edge-glue that type of item using Titebond II. I have never had a failure. One thing I always do is hard-screw one side of the counter the back, for example - and on the other side, I drill slots in the stretcher using washers on the screws to allow for movement. I don't know how anyone else does it, but I do glue-ups like this using a pair of lifts from Jim Tolpin, *Working at Woodworking*. It makes the whole thing quick and easy.

From contributor B:
Sanding is where you'll find a problem. The maple and the mahogany sand completely differently. The mahogany will sand down faster than the maple, creating slight high/low spots from strip to strip.

From contributor C:
I've done tops similar to what contributor A describes above, but in two pieces - so you can use a surface sander for the majority of the sanding, unless you have a 50 surface sander. A surface sander will tend to minimize the dips mentioned by db. Then you can re-joint if necessary and glue the halves together and the joint should be very close to exact and will need minimal fairing in. You can also get harder pads for your ROS to help keep a flat surface while sanding.