A wood table top attached with table top fasteners will help to prevent cracking caused by movement from seasonal changes.
A wood table top attached without allowing for movement caused by seasonal changes can cause the wood to crack over time. The best way to attach a table top is with table top fasteners. The fasteners allow the top to move throughout the seasons, help to prevent cracking and ensure your DIY table top will be beautiful for years to come.
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It’s important to have an understanding of wood when building DIY furniture projects. Not just how to cut, and assemble with wood but also to understand how it works. In Mistakes with Wood Can Cause Your DIY Furniture to Crack we talked about how wood is hygroscopic. Simply put, hygroscopic means it absorbs moisture from the air. Seasonal changes cause wood to absorb and release moisture.
This continuous absorption and releasing of moisture causes the wood to swell and shrink. This swelling and shrinking causes the wood to move and this movement causes issues. When it’s more humid, the moisture in the air is absorbed and the wood swells. The swelling actually has enough force to push and pull joints apart. Worse yet, if the wood is joined incorrectly it can cause the wood to crack and split.
One of the most common projects to crack is a wood table top. Many times when building a table the top is attached without taking wood movement into consideration. Recently I received a message from June who wanted to learn more about the correct way to attach a table top:
Thank you so much for this great article! I would love if you could explain more in depth how to attach table tops and add illustrations – I had a hard time visualizing what you meant in your post about your apothecary cabinet and the screws/washers. I don’t have a router or biscuit joiner. Is it a lost cause until I have one of those?”
Thank you so much for reaching out and for the questions. I love hearing from you guys! And yes, absolutely let’s look more closely at some ways to properly attach a wood table top. Oh, and if you have a question you can contact me here.
What Causes a Wood Table Top to Crack?
Before we look at the correct way to attach a wood table top let’s look at the incorrect way to attach a table top. I’m guilty of incorrectly attaching a table top when building a table or even a stool. In my stool project, I drilled pocket holes through the apron, then used pocket screws to attach the stool top.
First, let me say I LOVE pocket hole joinery! I have an entire directory dedicated to Kreg Jig Tips and Tricks and there’s even a page where you can ask your pocket hole questions. But pocket hole joinery is not the best solution to attach a table top.
Using pocket holes to attach the stool base to the stool top prevents the top from moving during seasonal changes. It’s also not a good idea to drive screws through the edge of the apron into the table top. Over time the top could crack or the top could have enough force to push or pull the joints of the base apart. Skate over to Mistakes with Wood Can Cause Your DIY Furniture to Crack to see more about how I incorrectly attached the top on the stool.
Attach Wood Table Top with Table Top Fasteners to Prevent Cracking
A better option for attaching a table top when building a table is to use either store-bought or DIY table top fasteners. A table top fastener securely attaches the table top to the base but allows the top to move freely during seasonal changes.
Figure 8 Table Top Fasteners
One of the easiest options for attaching a table top to a furniture project is with a figure 8 fastener. A Forstner bit is used to drill holes in the apron and the figure 8 fastener is screwed to the apron. The top is then placed on the DIY table and the top is attached with screws through the figure 8 fastener.
Kerf Table Top Fasteners
Another option for attaching a table top to a furniture project is with a kerf fastener. With this option a groove is cut in the apron using the kerf or width of a table saw blade. Then the table top fastener is inserted into the groove and attached to the table top with a screw.
DIY Table Top Fasteners
The DIY fasteners need to be wider than the biscuit, so I made marks every 2-1/2” on a scrap piece of 1×2. Then drew lines using a Kreg Multi-Mark to make sections.
I placed the board on the Kreg Mobile Project Center and against the bench dogs. I used the biscuit joiner to cut slots in the middle of each section.
Using a miter saw I cut the sections apart. It’s not critical that the DIY fasteners are the same width, so just use the lines you drew as a guide for cutting.
Use a countersink bit to drill a hole in each DIY fastener. Make sure not to drill through the biscuit slot.
Next, cut biscuit slots around the inside edge of the apron.
Place the apron on the table top, insert a biscuit and slide the DIY fastener over the biscuit. Do not apply glue to the biscuit. The biscuit is what allows the table top to move during seasonal changes. Attach the fastener with a wood screw.
Then attached the table top to the base with washers and screws. The oversized holes allow the top to move freely and the washers keep the screws from falling into the holes.
Attaching a wood table top without allowing for movement due to seasonal changes can cause the wood to crack over time. The best way to attach a table top is with table top fasteners. The fasteners allow the top to move throughout the seasons, help to prevent cracking and ensure your DIY table top will be beautiful for years to come.
Thank you for stopping by. If you found this information helpful, would you please pin it to Pinterest? Other DIYers would appreciate it and I would too! Thank you – Scott