Table Tops: Solid Plank Versus Veneer

If you have plenty of solid wood, simpler may be better for bar top construction. April 24, 2013

I am looking to make a super ridged table top. I was thinking of doing a 3/4 solid red oak top then back it up with 1/2 plywood and wrap the perimeter with more 3/4 to hide the ply and end grain. I am looking to get a total of 1 1/4 thick top. Is this a good solution and will it minimize any movement?

Forum Responses
(Adhesive Forum)
From contributor J:
Absolutely, positively, no it is not a good solution. It will curl like a potato chip and the edging will start to crack off very quickly. What are you trying to achieve here? What do you mean by "super-rigid?" If you want to (virtually) eliminate movement and have an oak surface and 1 1/4" thickness you could veneer a piece of 1" plywood on both sides with 1/8" shopsawn veneer. Or, you could try and find 1 1/4" plywood (or make it by laminating two sheets of 5/8" ply) and veneer it on both sides with commercial veneer.

From the original questioner:
I have a friend that wanted me to build him some tops for a bar. They will get beat on and abused. I was just trying to figure out the strongest way to build them. He has all the oak I may ever need to build them from 4/4 to 12/4 thick and need to reuse the old bases. They have a plate that is 8"x 8" to screw to the underside of the table. I felt that if I just glued up 1 1/4" thick material that over time it may split or crack on its own or if a table got knocked down or over it might split or crack. Or I may be just overthinking this.

From contributor J:
Consider breadboarding the ends of solid tops to help keep them flat. I do think you might be overthinking things a bit. Keep an eye on the MC of your friend's oak. If it's been stored in a damp shed or basement it may not be ready for immediate use.

From contributor F:
Yes you’re overthinking it. There are many ways to make a top. Since you apparently have an abundance of oak I'd make a thicker top and forget the breadboards. A 1-1/2" or even thicker solid top will be pretty darned rigid and should last quite a while.

From contributor W:
Right on Contributor F. A planked top with well-sanded edges, a good finish on the top and edges, and a well-sealed finish on the underside will last for many years in an interior environment. I have planked tabletops in service successfully over 20 years with no checks or splits.