Recently, we finished the construction of a huge Ash dining table for a client in Memphis, TN.

The table measures 120″ long, 48″ wide, and 30″ tall. The material used was ash veneer for the dining surface and solid ash for the legs. The design was a simple Parsons style, with a 3″ thick top and 3.5″ square legs.

The first step in the construction phase was to design and build the torsion box top.

About eight months ago we used a material called Euro-Ply for a job of 26 thick desk tops. Ever since then, we have been in love with this material! The 1″ thick material is made up of 17 individual layers of wood that are oriented 90-degrees to one another and glued together. The resulting plywood structure is incredibly dense and stiff.

We are able to build 3″ thick torsion boxes, using 1/2″ skins and 2″ wide Euro-Ply, that are lightweight and perfectly rigid!

On our able, we framed the 1/2″ thick MDF with the Euro-Ply and created a cellular grid work throughout the middle. All the joints are glued and screwed together, and the MDF is nailed, through the top and bottom, every 8″ or so to the Euro-Ply.

The only thing we did differently with this torsion box was to build in a 2″x2″ square pocket in each corner. These pockets will accept the tenon on the solid Ash legs, which we will show later on in the construction process.

The torsion box we constructed for this ash table was 47.5″ wide and 119.5″ long and 3″ thick. Once the Euro-Ply grid work is glued and stapled to the top and bottom skins, the resulting hollow box is as strong of a structure as can be made with wood materials.

Here is a close-up of the 2″x2″ pocket that will accept the tenon on the leg. All joints were glued and screwed together.

Next, we turned our attention to the hardwood framework for the torsion box. We decided to frame the torsion box in solid Ash, versus veneering the perimeter, since the solid wood would be more durable over the long run.

We began by re-sawing some 4/4 Ash down to 7/16″ or so and then running it through the wide belt until the final thickness was 5/16″ or so. The skins you see above were the first ones we made. But, after seeing how different the color was on these boards versus the veneer for the top and the wood for the legs, we rejected these, bought some better colored ash, and re-made the skins.

Once we re-milled and sanded the new pieces to their final thickness, we cut them to 3.25″ wide, which was 1/4″ wider than the thickness of the torsion box. This would allow us to simply flush trim along the top and under sides of the table to achieve a perfect seam between the skins and the MDF surface of the torsion box.

The skins were mitered to their final lengths and glued and clamped into place until dry. We did not use any mechanical fasteners to hold the skins in place because we didn’t want to have any visible holes that would have to be filled and blended in.

This is what the mitered corners and the hole for the legs looked like. The 1.3 and 1.31 numbers tell us the exact width between the hole and the outside of the table, and the 2.03 numbers tell us tell us the exact width of the hole itself. These numbers will be used to cut the tenons in the ends of the legs.

More photos and more about the project next time -Jared

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