Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/Repair antique table


I have an antique dining table that is starting to split at the glue joints. How do I finish splitting the joints so the wood splits along the joint? I want to make sure it splits at the joint so I can joint the edges, then biscuit join and glue the joint again. Can you help me?

Hey Carl, is it splitting or is the table just shrinking to the point where the joints are pulling away slightly. Both are possible...usually if it's actually splitting, it'll already be loose in some areas, and if it's hide glue, (an antique from before turn of the century to early '50's or so..), you might be able to pop it apart.It tends to kind of crystallize over time and get rather brittle, and a sharp downward force, with the bottom supported along one of the joint sides, might just "pop" it apart. If it doesn't happen rather easily on the first try, then I wouldn't try too hard, and just try to get glue in it.If the joints are loose, but not coming apart, you can simply get glue into the cracks using a thin palette knife or similar, and/or forcing glue into the loose areas with your fingers, pushing it into the gaps under pressure..wiggling the loose areas as you go to make sure the glue is getting into the seam, and re-clamp the joints, paying attention to line everything up, and clean up any squeeze out before it sets. Hide glue is water soluble, but I wouldn't go soaking the table in water to separate the pieces, and if it was hide glue originally, you should use hide glue again to mend the a job like this, you'll most likely have to get into refinishing the top, or at the very least restoring the existing finish if possible,because if you get them apart, they'll need re-jointing to get a good seam.. so if the planks are separating, or it's just shrinkage, the ideal way is to cut the table apart and rejoin, because with a straight edge and a good blade, you can cut right down the joint and make a good clean, new joint on each side, (theoretically...), then touch up with a jointer ( hand plane or power) to make a good mating, and reglue. .It may sound drastic, and does require some pretty high skill levels, but that's the best way to solve the problem and make the most invisible, lasting repair. Biscuits will help, but typically, a good edge to edge glue joint can last just fine, especially on a porous wood like Cherry, Walnut, Mahogany, etc..and with a modern glue. If it's an oval or round top, you'll need to make some shaped,clamping cauls to allow you to put parallel pressure all along the joint for the best repair.Hope that helps alitlle, post back if need be.
Regards, Greg

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Greg Scholl


Questions on Woodworking, wood finishing and refinishing of all kinds, repairing furniture and wooden objects, Architectural details, Woodturning, carving, tool usage, product usage, some chemistry as it applies to woodworking and related interests,cabinet making and furniture construction/design, etc. I have experience with all manners of colorants, finishes, paints, stains, dyes, glazes, and coatings, wood species recognition and usage,tool recommendations, blade types and recommendation,techniques and methods for many Woodworking related issues, etc.


Fine furniture restorer and cabinet maker for over 30 years,serving high end Antique dealers, Interior designers, Collectors in the CT area. Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.) Sold, built, serviced, setup Home, Industrial, and Commercial stationary woodworking tools for a major tool retailer in CT. for three years, sold hand and power tools , provided knowledge, parts replacement, service, and on site service, Trade show Demo, and training as well.

Published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (12/97), included on Fine Woodworkings first "Best of Fine Woodworking" CD-ROM (2002) ...("27 year compilation of expert know-how")

Art School at Silvermine Guild in Norwalk, CT., 9 year apprenticeship in a European run Cabinet and Restoration shop in CT., various classes on subjects having to do with the field. Seminars from major Tool manufacturers, Skil/Bosch, Delta, Powermatic, Ritter, Porter cable, Milwaukee, Dewalt/B&Decker, Performax.

Past/Present Clients
Many varied clients including work on Martha Stewarts' Westport, CT. show house, many fine Antique dealers and private collectors in and around Fairfield County and in Woodbury, CT. (the Antiques capital of CT.), Golden Age of Trucking Museum,Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.), local Museums and Historical Societies. For the last two years I have been employed with Schwenke Auctioneers Inc.- Woodbury Auction LLC., as a staff photographer,IT tech,and doing restoration and repair work as well.

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