We often get inquires at R. J. Hoppe Inc. regarding solid wood tables. I thought this might be a good opportunity to document just what is involved in creating a "simple" table top. First off this project was generated through the Custom Made web site. A business owner had recently moved into a new space and required a conference room table. The base for the table was provided by him. The owner saw my company profile on Custom Made and decided to drop by. We discussed and narrowed down the myriad of options and settled on Red Oak as the wood species for the project. We also agreed upon a price. The project was born.
The first picture shows the completed table top with two coats of Chemcraft low gloss post catalyzed lacquer. The second picture shows a detail of the wood grain as well as some of the distress the client had requested.
The third picture really shows the beginning of the process. Rough sawn, 8/4 solid Red Oak was purchase and needed to be dressed down to 6/4 (1 ½") thick. This was done by means of a massive, ancient planner we have in our shop.
The fourth picture illustrates a number of steps. After planning the boards needed to be calibrated to a uniform thickness. The planner wasn't good enough for this. You can see our drum sander in the background of the picture. After calibration the boards were laid out and marked to achieve the best look possible. Then it was off to our Ayen doweling machine. We find that using ½" x 3" dowels works best for mechanically joining the individual boards together. Hence, the reason we calibrated the boards served two purposes: 1) To bring out the best grain possible in the wood and 2) to calibrate the wood for doweling.
The fifth and sixth picture show the individual boards glued up. Note the 4 x 4 bracing on the top surface. This is done to keep the entire top for bowing while the glue cures.
The seventh picture illustrates a cut out made for a power and data grommet which would later be installed. We always prefer to have the actual grommet in house so we can test it's fit and function. You can just make out one of the dowels used in joining the wood.
Before final sanding we like to give solid wood items, such as this, a bath. The eighth picture shows this. Why? The water raises the grain and allows for better finishing after sanding. Prior to this though, the customer requested a slight level of distress in the final product. So after taking out all undesirable defects with our drum sander, we put them back in the end. This is simply about control of the look. Any amount of distress can be reintroduced into the boards, after, we make sure the top is mechanically sound and glued up properly.
The ninth and tenth picture shows the top after staining. The grain has visually "popped" and a measured level of distress can be seen.
As you can see, to make properly, quite a few steps are involved in a "simple" top. Now a word about the pricing you see. The low number reflects this project as is, top only in Red Oak, 6/4" thick, low level of distress, stained and finished in low gloss lacquer. From there on up the sky is the limit and the options are endless. … Read more Read less
More projects by Rolf Hoppe
Reviews of this Maker
Review of Desk and credenza
by Daniel Feb 05th 2013
The completed desk and credenza was delivered yesterday and what an absolutely amazing piece of American workmanship. I would highly recommend Rolf and his team as a class act from beginning to end. Rolf was so proud of his work, as well he should be, that he delivered it, set it up, and polished it in my office before he left. I could tell it was hard for him to part with it. We decided that he could have the desk every other weekends and alternating holidays.
“Rolf, It has been extremely enjoyable to watch the expression on the face of my employees over the last few days as they see this desk and credenza for the first time. Their mouths literally fall open in shock; it’s just that damn stunning. Have a great weekend."
Going back to the beginning, I decided that my office (the president of the company’s office) needed to say more about the success of our company than the thirty year old décor that currently greeted our potential clients. You see our company was founded over a hu... Read more
Review of Custom High End Fashion Display Case
by Felicia Nov 20th 2012
RJ Hoppe did a tremendous job on our display case. The detailing and finishing work were incredible! Given the specifics of the project they finished well before our due date, allowing time for any edits and adjustments. Rolf is very easy to work with we give him a thumbs up!
Review of Dressing Room Island
by Virginia B. Jul 03rd 2012
RJ Hoppe was wonderful to work with. He was open to all my ideas, respected my personal specifications and stuck to my budget. He is an exacting and precise craftsman. Furthermore, he was punctual for all appointments and was fastidious when installing the piece. We got along very well; I highly recommend this vendor. Upon completion, he placed an orchid on the island, which added a lovely touch to complete my room.
Virginia S. Block
Review of TTo finish/salvage /duplicate two custom made desks and closets which were damaged by flood water from Hurricane Irene.
by Mo-Li B. Mar 30th 2012
Rolf Hoppe is an excellent cabinet maker. The desks we ordered were an exact duplicate of the custom made ones we had which were damaged by a flood from Hurricane Irene. He also took time to install them carefully and made sure that everything was in order. I recommend him highly.