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Advices on whether I should take the risk on this Tuck table

Product design
- 29 Nov 2017 -
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Product design

Dear All,

I came across a small Wegner table, made by A. Tuck. The design is really nice, but the poor table must have undergone serious stress over the years. Before making an offer (I am sure the owner won't be happy about it, but in this case I think it will match the table value), I wanted to ask your opinion.

There are two cracks visible on the top surface, one visible due to the white color of the glue, and another crack that is more visible. It looks like these cracks are not crossing entirely the surface, but they stop at half or less of it. Do you think it is possible to put epoxidic glue in the cracks, send it, and go with teak oil and steel? Would it made a decent result?

There is a dent on the rim, which actually does not worry me as much as the cracks.

Finally, the design of the legs of this table requires that two wooden pins are keeping the two parts together. The two pins are not available, but I guess they could be remade.



Advices on whether I should take the risk on this Tuck table
1960 - 1969


- 29 Nov 2017

A couple of thoughts:

Simply putting glue, any glue, into the splits and then clamping them closed is not going to fix anything. The splits will reappear with the next dry season. And I cannot ever recommend epoxies for repair of fine furniture as they are extremely difficult if not impossible to remove.

If the table were mine, and the top were otherwise structurally sound, I'd try to remove the milky glue residue and leave things as they are. Wood moves, like it or not.

I'm a bit surprised that the boards comprising the top appear to be flat or rift-sawn rather than quartered and that their grain patterns are not especially well-matched.

- 30 Nov 2017

It is White Oak by the way.

I would be extremely concerned that the crack gets broader toward the edge. This suggests to me that it may not close well. If it takes any significant force to close the cracks, that would be a very bad sign.

I think you need to figure out what caused these cracks. It is possible that the oak just spontaneously split, but that is extremely unlikely.

Since the pins are missing, it makes me think someone "modified" this piece. Was the top ever screwed to the base? That could easily have caused these splits. (the oak wanted to shrink but it was pinned in place by the screws, so it split in order to shrink).

Are there any dents or scrapes that would indicate the top was abused (dropped from the roof, used as a frisbee, etc)?

If you could explain why these cracks happened and it is due to something that will not happen again, it might be possible to patch the cracks and have it not crack again. It would be impossible to be certain. The wider the variation of humidity you expose it to, the more risk. It will NOT be possible to patch these cracks invisibly, as a consequence this table will forever bear the scar of this and value will follow accordingly. And it is very unfortunate that the cracks have been poorly repaired. This will make a good repair job significantly more difficult, and the outcome much worse. The missing chip in the rim will always be very obvious.

I never use epoxy for anything. The pins can be re-made. If someone gifted me the table, I would take it. Tktoo is very wise.

- 30 Nov 2017

Leif, sometimes it's just impossible to predict how lumber will react to sizing and shaping. There are often clues in grain patterns and growth rings, but I've had seemingly stable pieces of kiln-dried stock take off on me after ripping. You never really know how relieving potential internal stress will resolve itself until a freshly-cut piece reattains equilibrium which can take days, weeks, or longer. Production schedules don't allow for this.

- 30 Nov 2017

Absolutely, I agree. Especially after ripping a board that has found an equilibrium in itself and then been planed flat and square, it is entirely possible to discover that the two halves of the board you are ripping are no longer in equilibrium. I just love it when that happens on the table saw and the board grabs the blade like they are chopsticks. There is usually an obvious cause for these sorts of misbehavior, at least if you know what you are looking for. Ambient humidity changes are a leading cause that most people do not see. Obviously cutting boards is another.

Generally there is no reason it would take 50 years for equilibrium to be found. Usually this problem would arise with an improperly dried board and It would misbehave as it dries quickly. In most cases this would be measured in weeks at most. So maybe it happened a few months after the owners received the piece and they never did anything about it. It wasn’t a cheap piece of furniture though, so...

Interestingly my Aasbjerg catalog mentions exactly this sort of thing and how the kilns they used had greatly dimished these problems and in the rare case where problems still happened it was a simple enough problem to replace the piece.

Andreas Tuck could have used quartersawn oak here, and that would have decreased the likelihood of misbehavior. Perhaps Wegner did not want the ‘tiger oak’ appearance, which is associated with antique furniture. Perhaps he wanted wider boards. Perhaps it was just for the sake of cost. I have two Andreas Tuck pieces in the house right now with veneer tops attached to the aprons via the cleat and groove system which is complete overkill for a dimensionally stable veneered top. So I don’t think cost was the foremost consideration for Andreas Tuck.

A long time ago I bought a pair of solid teak top corner tables. The tops were only 3/4 inch thick, and maybe 48 inches wide. Some idiot had screwed an oak ‘keel’ underneath each table. Probably to strengthen the tables. This damaged both tables. One cupped a lot. The other split in two places, not quite all the way across. It looked remarkably similar to this. It took a lot of work, but I got them back to normal.

In this case there is a possibility that this crack was caused by screwing the top to the frame. And since the top is screwed on, now you don’t need the pins, so they get lost. Or maybe they got lost first, and to hold the table together you screw it to the top. Also perhaps the flat cut top cupped or crowned, which is its most likely misbehavior. Then since it was wobbling the owner decided to screw it down flat against the frame. This could have helped pop out the chip in the frame when it cracked a couple of months later.

You do point out a serious concern here though. As soon as the crack happens the wood can start to warp in new ways that aren’t balanced against each other. This is why I would be very concerned about the apparent widening of the crack as it approaches the rim. The sides may have warped away from each other.

This table will always bear this scar. Whether it will be a scar or an open wound depends on what is caused or still causing it to happen.

Do you have some photos of the underside?

- 30 Nov 2017


Thank you both for the very nice and interesting comments. I asked the owner about the origin of the cracks, and she said that they appeared because of the heating of the flat. She said they discovered them just by removing the pile of newspapers were put on the table. Whether this is true, I do not know. Also the dent on the side is suspicious.

But there are no signs of screws being placed on the structure below the dish... see picture.

Best wishes,

- 30 Nov 2017

That actually might be a reasonable explanation. The heating exposed the bottom of the table to very dry air. The newspapers on top of the table isolated it from the very dry air. The table top would have wanted to crown (high in the center).

Right here it is possible that the were enough internal stresses to crack the boards, but I would say that most boards would not have cracked yet.

If the stack of newspapers were quite high and heavy, it could have provide enough weight for the table top to split itself with any piece of wood, no matter how mellow.

And the crowning could have popped a chip out of the rim.

This is a situation where a teak top would have been much more dimensionally stable and might have survived this. And these pieces oak might have had a lot of internal stresses to begin with. This is what tktoo was saying.

If you want to redeem this lovely broken table as best as I can be redeemed, you have my utmost respect for that. Unless you get paid to do it, this table is unlikely to be worth the time.

- 30 Nov 2017

Hi Leif, thank you. It's indeed a risky project. I'll inform you in case I manage to acquire it for a price that reflect its status. By the way, would you know any way to get a similar table top that could be used as replacement? Would it make any sense?


- 30 Nov 2017

You could commission a woodworker to make one for you. It could be done on a lathe, turned like a wide flat bowl. It could also be done with a router. Some woodworkers flatten large solid table tops with a router that is in a contraption so that it can move on rails in a flat plane. You just work the router back and forth over the wood and it cuts it flat. In this case, the woodworker would probably cut the circle first and then cut out the center with the router.

You would just have to ask around. I would probably start with a bowl turner and see what he would charge to laminate up some oak and turn it into a flat bowl. White oak, quarter sawn.

- 30 Nov 2017

Not to argue, but it would require less effort (or expense) to properly repair the original top if its current condition is unacceptable.

I'm a big believer in keeping components original whenever possible and/or practical. I also consider competent repairs evidence of age, use, and respectful care. Details that, to me, often make a piece unique and sometimes charming in a je-ne-sais-quoi sort of way.

- 01 Dec 2017

To be clear: I would NOT get rid of the original top. If you have a new top made, keep the old top, and supply it with the new top and the table if you ever decide to sell it.

And yes, commissioning a new top will not be cheap, unless you happen to know a good woodworker who works for conversation and beer.

- 01 Dec 2017

Letting a piece be what it is, unique among its peers despite being a production piece at birth, is the humane approach in my view, given sufficient damage and wear.

I, too, would want to learn what a straight-edge would tell us about the present flatness of the top.

Leif writes: "You do point out a serious concern here though. As soon as the crack happens the wood can start to warp in new ways that aren’t balanced against each other. This is why I would be very concerned about the apparent widening of the crack as it approaches the rim. The sides may have warped away from each other."

This, if I read correctly, says it all about these splits, at least the larger one. That crack will never close. (How would you clamp it, by the way ?) The wood has moved permanently on either side of the crack; asking it to close is comparable to asking the earth to move back to its earlier position after an earthquake -- for the reasons stated above.

Some makers would attempt to stabilize that split with a butterfly, perhaps a blind one inserted from below. For me, cleaning and perhaps oiling this top would be enough. The chips should be left alone. Leif, did you actually take a cup out of a solid table top ? Nice trick, to make such a repair permanent . . .

Wouldn't the turner of such a top need a very large swing to his lathe ? Perhaps they are made that way, where a CNC machine is not available. I have used the traveling-router method. I recall a story long ago about a coastal woodworker who made a dedicated router milling rig to flatten the bottoms of swamp cypress trunks for use as furniture bases . . .

- 01 Dec 2017

SDR: yes I have taken the cup out of a solid teak table top. It is solid wood so it may well have moved again, but I doubt it was back to cupped just because. There is cause and effect at work here even if it is hard to see. It is like medicine; it is all about the dosage and knowing what does what.

There is another case of a pair of solid teak leaves for a table. I accidentally stored them on top of each other with no air space between. They cupped away from each other after a few weeks. I was very concerned at first but they flattened right back out and stayed that way. I didn't have to do anything.

My lathe rotates so I don't need to worry about swing for this sort of thing.

- 01 Dec 2017

Thanks, Leif. Interesting that your tops cupped (temporarily) away from each other, as that is just what virtually all sheets of plywood do, at the top or bottom of a unit. And, they usually don't go back. But solid wood is different. In both cases, of course, the axis of the bend is parallel to the grain (or surface grain) of the piece of material.

We learn (or relearn) the hard way to cover -- or completely uncover -- both faces of flat panels when storing them, even for a short period.

EDIT: I believe I've seen plywood and other sheet goods bow away from a surface, in both directions. I guess that would be a new category of warpage, namely "bowl" ?

- 01 Dec 2017

Plywood is a special sort of beast. It follows the same rules, but you have to first spiral shave all the rules on a spit, then lay them out flat, stack them at alternating 90 degrees, then glue them back together. It makes for complicated reading by the end.

- 01 Dec 2017

Hi! These are really interesting comments... I would never get rid of the original top, and it would be a fun project to try to get a new one as similar as the original. At least I would not tell my friends to not put their glass of wine or beer on it (they already look at me strangely, but they are getting used to my habits).

I did not hear back from the owner yet, but I am sure she will keep my generous offer in mind in case she won't sell it.

All the best

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