Clamp curved caul edges inwards so they align tabletop boards in the middle, then torque up the main clamps to draw the boards together. If the width of boards you’re using allow it, pre-glue boards for your tabletop in sections that are just narrow enough to fit within your thickness planer. Run these through the planer to clean and level the glue joints, then move back to clamps for final glue up. Working in stages like this reduces the number of glue joints you need to sand smooth and level later.
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When sourcing materials from a renovation or job site be sure to have clear permission and wear the appropriate safety gear. Be aware that lead paint and asbestos may be mixed in with clean wood. Watch out for and pull nails out of material before loading in a car or truck so reclaimed wood will stack better. Be careful when working with items painted prior to 1979 as they may contain lead-based paint. Be sure to consult the EPA's Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools pamphlet before disturbing any paint that could contain lead. Building materials produced before 1983 should also generally be tested for asbestos. Contact your local building official for exact requirements.
The most commonly purchased claw hammer is the 20 oz. size. It’s heavy enough to easily drive nails but easily manipulated when pulling nails. While wooden handles are picturesque, they may not stand up to the strain if you have to pull a lot of nails. Hammers with a steel handle, or even fiberglass, will be stronger. However, these won’t absorb the vibrations from driving nails the way a hickory handle will. You’ll also need to make sure the fiberglass and metal handles have a rubberized grip for control and comfort. If you’re going to be driving a lot of nails, the wooden handled hammer will be better for reducing stress on your hand, and wrist, too.
Breaking down heavy sheet-goods on a jobsite table saw is difficult, and dang near impossible when working alone. That’s where a track saw comes in handy. A good quality track saw can produce cabinet saw results out on any job. Now, this portable tool is even more portable. The FESTOOL TSC 55 is a cordless saw that has the same features and performs just as well as FESTOOL’s corded saw, including the cut capacity and blade speed. It also has a collection bag that actually works, collecting up to 90% of the dust. The batteries are compatible with other FESTOOL products and the saw runs on their standard tracks.
Consider building your tabletop out of boards about 6" wide (1x6 or 2x6), or close in size (I use x4 and x8 boards on occasion). If you go smaller, you'll be adding more joints, which means more pocket holes and more sanding. If you go with a wider board, the board itself may cup over time, creating high and low points on your tabletop. I personally find x6 boards to be that happy medium.
Once your table is completely dry, flip it over and push the edge of the table over your workspace edge. Go ahead and trim the excess maple so that it is flush with the MDF using a circular saw. Make sure these edges are straight and refined, as these will end up being the finished edges of your table top. Flip the table top over and sand smooth, wiping off any sawdust afterwards.
If you want your table top -- any table top -- to actually ast without bowing/cupping/twisting, you MUST attach it in a manner that allows for seasonal wood movement. Wood is an organic product, and it naturally expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity. I'll post link below to a couple of options that you can cheaply buy which will allow you to securely attach a tabletop while still giving the wood the flexibility to move with the seasons. When you buy decently-made furniture at a store, they all accommodate for this one way or another. Don't just screw the top down to the legs or the skirt...you'll regret it later on.
The reclaimed wood boards are glued together, side-by-side, to form the table top. Use a biscuit joiner to cut matching slots along the board edges (Image 1). Because this tool can be set to cut the all of grooves at the same precise depth, when you insert the biscuits in the slots and pull the boards together the result is a smooth, level surface (Image 2).
Be sure wood is dry. Material from a job site or floor joists that existed in a crawlspace may have high moisture content; material from a conditioned space should be dry. Wood can be dried in a kiln (ask your local lumber mill) or stored inside through the winter. If time does not permit, stack wood in a hot dry place with 1" spacers between layers. Allow to dry for a minimum of two weeks.
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