Methods to make a leather-based tabletop


Synopsis: A companion to his “Folding Tabletop” article in the identical situation, this grasp class particulars find out how to veneer and add a leather-based floor to the highest. Particular methods are wanted as a result of this tabletop folds, however leather-based is usually a sturdy and viable floor on tops for tables and desks of all varieties.

A leather-based high provides pizzazz to a chunk, a sure formality usually related to giant govt desks. When leather-based is touched, its slight springback tasks sturdiness, consolation, and virtually a way of kinship. Which may sound odd however as people, we now have an historical relationship with leather-based that existed millennia earlier than our use of cloth. In my thoughts, leather-based’s imperfections make it excellent, with its pure defects and wrinkles breaking apart the monotony of a static flat aircraft.

leather table top illustration

Along with its attractiveness, leather-based is a really pragmatic selection. As a writing floor, it has no equal. Upholstery leather-based, which I take advantage of, requires minimal maintenance. It holds its personal towards life’s day by day assaults and I’ve by no means needed to change a broken piece. I want the identical might be stated for the numerous wood tops which have left my store over time.

With slightly expertise, leather-based is simple to work and requires no particular tooling.

Veneer one facet of each leaves

To start, I took two items of 5 ⁄ 8-in.- thick by 15-in.-wide by 24-in.-long Balticbirch plywood and glued a 1 ⁄ 2-in. strip of cherry to 1 lengthy edge on every of the leaves. As soon as the highest is accomplished, these would be the edges on the fold.

After slicing two items of cherry veneer a bit oversize, I laminated a chunk to 1 facet of every leaf utilizing yellow glue and a vacuum bag. When the glue had completely dried, I lower every leaf to 14 in. by 22 in., leaving the cherry strips untouched.

Veneer first

Earlier than you get to the leather-based, you’ll apply veneer to 1 face of every leaf of the highest.

Edging and veneer, applying glue and the oversize veneer
Edge and veneer. Previous to veneering, Latta glues a 1 ⁄ 2-in.- huge strip of solidwood edging to 1 lengthy edge of every leaf. These edges can be the place the highest folds when the leaves are hinged. Then with yellow glue, he applies the oversize veneer.

Vacuum bag the veneer
Vacuum bag it. Use a vacuum bag or press or clamping stress to set the veneer on the substrate.

Remove the excess veneer
Take away the surplus. As soon as the glue is dry, use a single-bevel knife, guided by the substrate, to trim away the surplus veneer.

Add leather-based to the tops

With the veneering full, lower a chunk of upholstery leather-based giant sufficient to cowl each leaves of the highest with a 1 ⁄ 2-in. overhang all the way in which round.

Align the cherry edges with one another and place a strip of veneer between the 2. To maintain elements from sticking through the glue-up, cowl the cherry edges with clear packing tape and wax the strip of veneer. To maintain the leaves from shifting within the vacuum press, tack a brief cleat to the sting, straddling the leaves. Do that on each ends. Roll a pleasant movie of white glue onto the unveneered faces of the leaves. Lay the leather-based on a flat floor, and set the leaves on high. With the leather-based facet down, put the meeting on a platen within the vacuum bag and let the glue do its factor.

As soon as the glue has absolutely cured, pull out the highest and take away the cleats, and the spacer between the leaves. The leaves ought to simply fold onto one another at this level. Take a pointy single-bevel knife and, with the highest face down, trim the leather-based to the sting of the leaves.

Prepare for the leather-based

Previous to gluing a chunk of leather-based to the 2 leaves, add a spacer between them. And safe the leaves with two tacked strips to make sure they don’t shift through the glue-up.

Anti-stick tricks
Anti-stick methods. Use clear tape, trimmed to suit, to cowl the edging on the within of the leaves (left). Moreover, wax the skinny spacer that may sit between the leaves through the glue-up (proper). This fashion the spacer doesn’t change into a everlasting a part of the development.
 removable strip
Skinny spacer. This detachable strip will create a slim hole between the leaves through the glue-up, which is able to enable them to fold after the glue has dried and the leaves are hinged collectively.
clamping the two leaves to veneer
Immobilization measures. It’s important that the leaves not shift through the leather-based glue-up. Latta clamps the 2 leaves to a flat floor and to one another, with the spacer in place, and tacks a brief cleat to the sting, straddling the 2 leaves. He tacks one other cleat to the alternative edge.

Apply the leather-based

Gluing the leather-based in place is just like gluing veneer.

Glue and press veneer
Glue and press. Unfold glue on the substrate, simply as you’ll with veneer. However quite than placing the veneer on high of the substrate, unfold the leather-based (good face down) on a clear, flat floor. Flip the substrate glue-side down and set it on high of the leather-based.
Flip and flatten leather to dry
Flip and flatten. After making use of hand stress to maintain the leather-based and substrate collectively, flip the meeting and use your fingers to easy out any wrinkles, shifting from the middle outward. Then set the entire thing within the vacuum bag, leather-based facet down, to dry beneath stress.

Edge the perimeter

The three uncovered sides of every leaf now get edged with a 1-in.-wide strip of cherry mitered on the outer corners. Including biscuits or splines alongside the joint will assist with alignment and slippage. Take the time to make your biscuit or spline joints extraordinarily correct, as a result of after the edging is glued it should be completely flush with the floor of the leather-based. The edging might be flushed on the veneered facet of the leaf however I don’t take that danger on the leather-based facet.

Publish glue-up

As soon as the glue is dry on the leather-based, it’s time to consider edging the skin.

removing spacer and trimming leather
Out of the press. When the glue has cured, take away the spacer from between the leaves and peel off the clear tape from the sides. Then use a single-bevel knife to trim the leather-based to the substrate.
running grooves for biscuits or a spline
Grooves for biscuits or a spline. It’s tough to flush the edging on the leather-based facet with out damaging the leather-based. So the mitered edging that goes across the perimeter of the highest ought to get biscuits or a spline to maintain it from shifting through the glue-up. Latta runs grooves for splines utilizing a handheld router on the substrate and the router desk for the edging.
working on one piece at a time
One piece at a time. Working across the perimeter of the desk, miter, measure, lower, and glue every bit in place.

Contributing editor Steve Latta teaches woodworking at Thaddeus Stevens Faculty in Lancaster, Pa.

Images: Anissa Kapsales; drawings: John Hartman.

From Tremendous Woodworking #299

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