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I'm new to this, so thanks for your patience.

I have a maple-veneer dining table that is about a foot too long for the space I have but it is otherwise about perfect and a gorgeous maple and design.

It is extendable (2 leaves) with nice solid extenders underneath that I think are only screwed in.

How do I cut down the top without a disaster that chips the top/veneer?

Of course, I'd remove the extenders underneath first; there's room to reattach them.

Probably not a circular saw with a guide?

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  • Hard to say without looking at it, so you might want to include a photo of the top, the apron or sides, and the bottom. You also don't say what tools you have at your disposal. – jdv Jun 3 at 18:23
  • Hi and welcome to SE. This may not be answerable in our format, since the proper way to answer such a query is to draw info from you and then base one or more recommendations on what you have, or are willing to buy specifically for this job (with the expectation of the tool being useful to you in future). So this is, I think, a better fit for a standard threaded forum. The answer to the basic Q, "How do you cut down a veneered tabletop?" is however, whatever works best with the tools you have at your disposal. – Graphus Jun 4 at 14:59
  • Just on this, "How do I cut down the top without a disaster that chips the top/veneer?" No matter how careful you are you may not be able to prevent this entirely. This is partly down to the veneer (type and thickness), the adhesive they used as well as how thoroughly it was applied, and only then does the tool used factor in more directly. – Graphus Jun 4 at 15:01
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    Honestly, I'm not sure this table is worth the effort. It's a fine table, but not one that can't just be replaced. It's just a factory made wood-and-veneer table. Sell this one, buy a new one that fits the space. A little secret is that those fasteners may never go back in the same way after, and by the time you repair the cut edges you are going to be sick of this job. Most woodworkers wouldn't take this job because they'd have to charge you more than the table is worth. – jdv Jun 5 at 4:29
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This answer, which I wrote before I saw the photos, addresses the issue of chipout of the flat tabletop but not about how to cut the top with the side apron if it is still attached to the top.

It may be possible with a circular saw and and a NEW blade with lots of teeth, A 60 tooth finishing-quality blade.

You want the teeth of the blade to plunge into the top veneer, this means you turn the table top over and cut from the bottom side. The bottom of the blade is rotating away from you so as it turns through the table top it is plunging UP into the veneer, this should eliminate chipout on the front end of the cut.

To minimize chipping on the back end of the cut you need to make sure the saw is tracking absolutely straight, this means using a straight edge. (A track saw would be ideal.)

The next best thing would be to make a circular saw straight edge that is sized exactly for your saw. This gives you a solid edge for the your saw to ride against so it does not move side to side.

ALSO use painters tape on the bottom of the cut (the top of the table) for the length of the cut. This will add some insurance against chipping but it is still possible. After you make the cut slowly peel the tape off at a severe angle to the top, not straight up.

You may want to practice on a crappy old piece of table or laminate, maybe from a thrift store or on the free board of craigslist. Watch lots of YouTube for tips.

You still need to deal with the exposed edge left from the cut, There is edge banding or you could use a maple veneer.

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    The painters tape trick is more of a old carpenter's tale, no? I'm pretty sure this has been thouroughly debunked. Most examples show the tape just peeling off veneer, so you lose some veneer now, or you lose it later when you remove the tape. – jdv Jun 4 at 21:36
  • Even if it might not be suitable for the OP's exact situation this is a fine Answer IMO with lots of useful info for a future reader looking to make a similar cut in future. To echo what @jdv said, the tape trick has been shown a couple of times to actually make the edge of the veneer surface worse, not better, even with peeled off at an acute angle. I've confirmed the same myself numerous times, even peeling 'flat' (back along the length of the tape). Best results I've had are peeling flat and skewed, but even that left flakes of veneer on the tape. [contd] – Graphus Jun 5 at 6:01
  • Best way to prevent chipping is with a backer board, but it must be very firmly clamped in place (or glued on temporarily) to work properly. – Graphus Jun 5 at 6:02
  • I'd suggest using a sharp, new utility blade to score the veneer along the line to be cut. If you score just on the "keep" side of the kerf, that should help significantly reduce (not guaranteed to eliminate) the chip out since any chipping should stop at the pre-cut. This will be difficult following the advice to cut from the bottom side (which I agree with), since getting the exact alignment of the knife cut on one side and the saw cut from the other will be challenging. – FreeMan Jun 5 at 11:02
  • Thank you, forum people, for your helpful suggestions both for if I rev up the saw or send the table intact to a consignment shop (or Goodwill) and buy a new table. – SarahT Jun 5 at 20:41

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