How To Join Wood Planks For A Table Top? – Ultimate Guide

Making a table top is much easier than what you might think. In fact, it’s one of the simplest projects you can do, even if you’re a complete woodwork beginner. 

It’s very satisfying joining planks for a table top. If you’ve never done it before, you might wonder how to join wood planks for a table top and how to join boards for a table top.

In this comprehensive article, you can find anything you need to know about how to join boards for a table top, from joining boards for a table top to how to glue wood together for a table top. We tell you all the steps you need to follow to join wood planks for a table top.

How to Join Wood Planks for a Table Top Step-by-Step 

The following method we suggest you to use is the most well-known, and it’s probably also the easiest. It’s called the lengthwise planks wood joining method.

Edge joining is all about joining long and narrow wood planks by their edge grain. This makes a broader piece of wood, which is perfect for making a table top. You can just join multiple broad pieces together until you get the desired result. As you can see, it’s really straightforward.

You can use glue, which means it’s affordable and cost-effective. Plus, glue is strong enough on its own so you don’t need to use other joining methods or other tools.

For this method, there are 12 simple steps you can follow. You can find out about them below.

Step 1 – Choosing The Wood

choose the wood

The first thing you need to do before you can join wood planks together for a table top is to choose the right type of wood. This will save you money, time, and effort since you won’t have to make the mistakes disappear.

It’s going to be worth it in the long term. To choose the best types of wood planks to make a table top, there are a few things you should watch for. Ideally, the wood should not have any blemishes, cracks, marks, or any other type of damage. 

Also, the wood should be flat, without any bows or twists on its length. Remember that you shouldn’t layer a damaged plank with another type of wood when you join the planks together.

Step 2 – Use A Planer

Then, you need to use a planer if you pick woods with different types of thicknesses. A planer can help you trim them all down to the same size.

With a planer woodworking tool, you can cut through the lengths of all the types of wood you have. You can choose to either use a hand planer or a benchtop planer. With this woodworking tool, you can smooth rough stock, make wood parallel, and help with consistency with thickness.

Step 3- Work On A Large Workbench

Making a table top can be a big project. Even if it’s pretty easy to join wood planks for a table top, it can be messy, and you need a lot of space for this fun project.

We recommend that you work on a flat and large workbench. When you join wood planks for a table top, you need to line up the boards, you need to hold them with some clamps, and you need to do a lot of other things that require space.

If you don’t have a large workbench, you could always use a flipped drywall.

Step 4- Align Your Wood Planks

all planks should be same thickness

The next thing you need to do is to align your wood planks, so they all have the same thickness.

Line your selected wood on your large workbench and joint them together. Align your wood planks well. Take the time to examine each piece carefully. You need to decide which piece of wood you want to go where and which final pattern you want.

You can trim and cut any wood pieces that need work done on them.

Step 5- Prepare To Glue 

You’re now finally ready to glue the different wood parts together. To make it easier, we recommend that you mark each different wood piece with chalk or a pencil, so you don’t mix them up and ruin your desired pattern.

Mark them with a ‘V’ or something similar to know which wood parts you are going to glue next. Once you’re done with one piece, turn it on the other side, so you know you’ve glued it. This way, you know what you have to glue next.

Then, you can mark the joint lines with an ‘I’ (or whatever you want) for the boards that are turned inside. Mark the outside ones with an ‘O’. This way, you won’t get confused, even if your wood planks are turned at different angles.

Step 6- Glue The Different Wood Parts Together

wood glue

Until now, you’ve only done prep work. Prep work is essential to make the process run as smoothly as possible. And all of this pays off. Now you’re finally ready to join wood planks for a table top.

So you can glue the different wood parts together. Keep in mind that you can only glue three wood planks at a time. Since it can take some time for the glue to dry properly, you will need to use clamps. You can also use gluing cauls, which are clamping boards. They stretch all across the width of the board.

Basically, clamps help to keep the wood boards while the glue is drying. You usually place them on the center, top, and under the boards.

When you’re using the clamps while the glue is drying, make sure that the wood planks don’t move around. So be careful with that and the alignment of the height. To make sure that doesn’t happen, use more clamps on the joints. This will prevent the wood boards from sliding off and keep them in place and aligned.

Also, be careful of the amount of pressure you use when you do the clamping. If you put too much pressure on them, and they’re too tight, the boards could go out of place. Always make sure there’s the same amount of pressure on each of them.

Step 7- Dry run

joined planks

If you’re not used to working with glue, you need to do a dry run. This records how long the glue takes to dry and how much adjusting you need to do before it fully sets.

As for what type of glue you need, there are three that you could use. The first one is woodworker’s glue. It’s yellow, and it sets very quickly, only five to 10 minutes. Then, you have the titebond extent, which usually sets under 10 to 20 minutes. Finally, you have the gorilla glue, which takes the longest to set: 40 minutes.

Once you choose your glue, you can do a dry run. It’s very simple to do a dry run. You’re basically experimenting, so use a piece of excess wood and make three pairs of cauls. First, place the cauls under the wood boards. Then, place the panel boards.

To apply glue, just set up the wood boards and apply glue along the joints, from one side to the other. If you want to speed up the process, use a brush to spread the club along the edges. You can then wipe off any excess glue with a damp cloth.

Glue the boards together and place the top cauls. Clamp lightly. You shouldn’t put too much pressure. Then, clamp at the center, along the boards, applying very light pressure. 

Finally, alternate tightening clamps to maintain the flatness of the wood panels. Once you’re done with the glue, make sure that the wood absorbs the glue well. If needed, apply more glue along the edges and joints. Finish clamping everywhere and adjust.

Step 8- Wipe Off Excess Glue

wipe off excess glue

In the 20 to 40 minutes after you glue the boards, wipe off any glue left with a damp rag. You don’t have to worry about getting the wood wet, as it will dry at the same time as the glue. Repeat this as often as necessary. 

Step 9- Check The Joints

To make sure the glue dries properly, wait a day or so. Once that’s done, check the joints and check if they’re properly fixed.

If anything needs to be fixed or adjusted, fix them now. Sometimes, glue can damage wood, and there can be some defects. This is the step where you repair what needs to be repaired.

Step 10- Be Creative

This is the fun step. Once you’re done with the above steps, you can add more planks if you want to widen the board. Or you can add more clamps and just let your creativity run free!

Step 11- Sand The Surfaces

belt sander

You’re almost done now. Do you see how easy it was? Before you finish, though, you need to sand the surfaces.

Make sure all of them are smooth and not rough. There can’t be any piece of wood that’s sticking out or tear-outs.

Sanding can be annoying for most woodworkers, but the end result is really worth it. 

Step 12- Finish

final step

Finally, you can finish your project. Usually, you apply stain and urethane to have an even surface. With time, it won’t look as good, but you can always sand it again and refinish it once more.

Or, if you don’t like the idea of stain and urethane, you can finish off your table top with oil and wax. However, it takes much more time to apply. However, it’s easier to repair and to revive than the other one. With this, it’s good to apply it a second time.

You’re done now! See? It was easy to join wood planks for a table top.


Here is a quick FAQ for you where you can find all the answers to your questions that you didn’t find above about joining wood planks for a table top. We also sum up some of the stuff we mentioned above.

How Do You Join Planks To Make A Tabletop?

how to join wood planks

There are several methods to join planks together to make a tabletop. We recommend you use the edge joining method. You just need to align the wood planks next to each other and connect them. We suggest you do that with glue.

You can use three different types of glues, with different drying times, depending on what you need to do. With this edge joining method, you can add as many wood planks as you want to create your desired table top.

How Do You Join Two Planks Of Wood Together?

To join two planks of wood together, you simply need to follow our 12 steps that you can find above.

To sum it up, you first have to choose the wood you want. Make sure you pick some that don’t have any damage, and you get the best quality material. Make sure the wood is flat as well. Next, use a planer to cut your desired lengths and get the same thickness. 

We recommend you work on a large workbench, as you will need a lot of space to join two planks or more of wood together. Or you could use a flipped drywall if you wanted to. Then, align the planks on your workspace and mark the joint lines, so you know where and which parts you need to glue. Preparation is key for this job.

Then, glue the boards together with the glue you want, using some clamps, so the boards are still aligned and that they don’t go anywhere. That’s it! Make a dry run just to make sure the glue is drying fine.

Wipe off any excess glue with a damp cloth. Once it’s dry, inspect the joints and fix anything that needs to be fixed. You can then add more planks of wood if you want to.

Finally, sand the surfaces and finish your table top off with either stain and urethane or with oil and wax.

How Do You Make A Plank Table?

diy plank table

If you want to make a plank table, you need a table saw, a circular saw, a hand saw, a dust mask, and a reclaimed wood gutter, 24 feet pieces, to be exact.

The first thing you need to do is to prepare for making a table top out of planks. Make sure that the wood is dry. Check the planks are dry and prep them.

You can then find some reclaimed wood to make a nice contrast design. Make sure you clean it well and that you remove all of the nails.

Then, you can finally build the structure of the table. Cut them until all the wood planks are the same size. Put glue on each of their corners with wood glue. Then, use finish nails to fasten them.

Next, you can build the structure of the table. Once you’re done with that, lay four planks out on a big, clean, flat surface. Assemble them until the top is complete. Sand anything that needs standing. Then, you can choose to paint, wax or stain your plank table.

How Do I Build A Table Top?

Building a table top is much easier than what you might think, just like building a table top. First, you can pick the table top boards. Pick a flat board. Although you can flatten out a table top or a board, it can take a lot of time and many tools, so we recommend you just get a flat board to start with.

Wider boards such as 2×8 or 2×10 are wider, which means that you have to glue fewer joints, but it’s up to you what size you prefer. The usual recommended size is 2×6.

Then, clean the edges once you’ve selected your table top boards. You need to square them too, as the edges are not always totally square. If your boards have square edges, you can skip this step.

You can now glue up a table top. You usually glue them two or three at a time. Tighten clamps to make sure the boards don’t move. 

Once you’re done with that, use a circular saw and rip cut to trim the edges until you get your desired length. You can then sand the table by hand or with a power sand. After that, fill in the cracks and fix anything that needs to be fixed. Finally, apply a finish to make your table look extra nice. For hardwood, you can choose to just leave it like that.

Final Thoughts

Whatever table you want to build, it’s easy to join wood planks together and get the result you want. It’s a very satisfying project. In this article, you saw how to join wood planks for a table top.

It’s basically the same process for other tables, and once you know this method, it’s very straightforward to reproduce it for multiple tables.

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