How to extend an incredibly thick table

We love a challenge, and will always take a serious look at any request a client gives us. For this particular project, we were presented with a solid Acacia table built in Southeast Asia. The top itself was around 3" thick. So the question was, how do you attach a heavy extension to an even heavier, existing top that has moved over time and is no longer square? 

The major issues with extending the table were: 

1. Color matching of acacia is virtually impossible given our sources of lumber.

2. The table top had shifted considerably, not only with squareness, but also in thickness. 

3. Attaching heavy extensions without throwing off the balance of the table top on the central base.

The solution was to go with lumber that would contrast the deep reddish-orange of the acacia. Our client opted for golden toned Eastern maple and Gun Metal powder coated steel to complete the overall design. The maple brought out the lighter accents in the acacia while the steel visually balanced the large slabs of lumber. 

Once the design and material selections were made, the challenge became manhandling maple slabs. 

We started with two 12 foot long, 16/4 (4") thick boards. Cut, planed and jointed them until they were down to the required thickness. You know a slab of lumber is big when you need to break out the Dozuki saw to finish a crosscut. A good bag of biscuits, jug of wood glue and lots of clamps brought the planed pieces together into 10" wide extensions. 

While the extensions were drying, Kevin came up with a clever solution to the metal detail. Since the finished table was already going to be quite heavy, he created an illusion of a solid stock of metal while reducing the actual volume of steel. The internal tabs allowed us to pull the metal tight against the wood while hiding any hardware. 

Meanwhile, after trimming and squaring the edges of the original top, I refinished the acacia with Fiddes Hard Wax Oil. 

The final installation occurred at our clients home with plenty of help from friends. The finished top was heavy enough to require five people to move onto the center post. Metal dividers and maple extensions were then assembled followed by a final buff of wax. We hope the extended table will not have to move from its new home for a very long time!