Maple desk top split

karinlSeptember 13, 2009

I have an old maple desk that I have taken apart for stripping and restoration. The boards that form the top of the desk are beginning to come apart at one end. I'm wondering what the best way is to address this, if there is a way at all.

The loose board is slightly out of alignment with the rest of the top.

I appreciate any advice.


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Rip cut them along the glue line and then glue them back together.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 8:25AM
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Darn, I was hoping that wouldn't be the only way :-)
Most of the length of the piece is good enough that it'll break my heart to cut it.

But thank you!


    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 2:56PM
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Actually, DIY cutting that apart is usually a bad idea, since most DIYers would use a circular saw or a small contractors saw. Neither os which are well suited for that job.

I have a large topped contractor saw and would not attempt that. I also have a straight edge cutting guide and a gear drive circular saw---which I would use if I had to do that.

DIYers aslo seldom have the necessary type and number of clamps to reassemble the top.

If the desk is worth the cost(actual or memento) find a commercial carpenter shop that can do that and glue it back together.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 9:40AM
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You might want to give some thought to why the glue joint failed. Could be just old glue but it could also be a situation where the frame of the desk isn't allowing for wood movement. The top came apart at the weakest point, in this case the glue joint.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 10:12AM
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HandyMac, that is exactly my situation, that the job is outside of my capacity to do well, with respect to both the cutting and the re-glueing. A commercial service might be an option. I might be able to justify the cost not because the desk is valuable, but because it was cheap :-).

However I could also just use a different top altogether; I'd sooner back myself to make a new one than to properly repair this one, or I might find a table top that would do. I might be able to cut this top down to its good part to use in another application.

I'm actually not reaattaching the top the same way (leaving it loose so it can be disassembled for moving), but thanks for your point about considering why it failed, Mike. I actually think its construction was normal for desks like this; the one I'm sitting at is no different, and not cracked. Most of this old maple furniture that is made of laminated boards is pretty firmly constructed and has stayed intact for sometimes upwards of 50 years, although I have seen a few pieces before where the glueing has failed the same way.

Given how completely the finish had failed on this desk (you can get an idea from the picture how thoroughly trashed it is though this is after a few passes with a cabinet scraper, mind you), I suppose it may have been allowed to get damp, or the wood might have dried out excessively - I'm not sure which extreme is the more likely explanation.

Thanks again for the input.


    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 8:06PM
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