I spent the past week away from the shop so we could get a kitchen remodeling project underway, but this weekend I was finally able to put in some hours working on the reclaimed wood laundry room island counter top. I've had the lumber stacked up in the shop for what seems like forever, and now, with the counter top glued up and in the clamps, it's pretty nice to no longer have that giant pile of 19th century lumber screaming at me to build something with it.
I almost always deal with the construction of big reclaimed wood counter/table tops by using hand tools. The reasons for this are twofold:
For this counter top, I thought I'd get cute and go straight to the power tools since all the wood was (seemingly) pretty close to being flat. I first ran the counter top boards through the planer (I skip planed them), which worked out pretty decently...for a while. I would have run them over the jointer first, but my jointer wasn't wide enough, long enough or powerful enough to handle some of the larger boards. Anyhow, after a pretty rigorous workout for the planer, it decided it had had enough and started shutting itself down. That was a first, and the instant it happened, all I could hear was the sound of a cash register opening (but don't worry, she's not broken...just needed a nap).
Once I solved that little issue, I ran the lumber through the table saw to get everything straight. I have a 7' long jig I use to cut straight edges, which in effect works like a jointer. Unfortunately, I don't have a big enough shop to have really long, dedicated infeed and outfeed tables, so I have to do some shop rearranging before I can use said jig. Much like the planer operation, this worked out reasonably well...
...until I set everything on the sawhorses and got ready for the final detail work. There's a saying about horseshoes and hand grenades, and my power tool work fell in line with it; the end result of the planer and table saw got things close...but not close enough. I still had to get out the #4 bench plane (luckily I have 2 of them, because I definitely broke 1 of them yesterday in a minor shop avalanche) to flatten a few boards, and I had to plane the edges on quite a few of them as well. I suppose to could have just cranked down the clamps to tighten up the joints, but that's always a recipe for bad things.
Anyhow...the hard part should be done; the boards are now glued up and in the clamps.
The boards are out of the clamps, and after another round of planing (and a little sanding thrown in for good measure):
I still need to do some planing and sanding, and I'm going to throw in a few dutchmen in the board that's 2nd from the right to make sure the split doesn't get any crazy ideas, but I'm never not really, really amazed at how rad these boards, so many of which get tossed out during rehabs, tear-downs and general demolition, look after a little bit of work to clean them up.