Place your planks together, edge-to-edge, on a flat surface. Arrange them in the order and position you want for the final table top.
Use a pencil to lightly number both sides of each joint on the bottom side of the planks. For the first joint, mark each adjoining edge with a 1, the second with the number 2 and so on.
Secure the first two boards in two bench vises with the numbered surfaces facing out. The necessary distance between the vises depends on the length of your boards. As a rule of thumb, the end of each board should extend no more than 18 inches beyond the vise. The goal is to keep the boards firmly aligned during the planing process.
Plane the edges of both boards until they are flat. Check them periodically by removing them from the vise, placing the planed edges together and looking for gaps. You are finished planing when you can’t see light between the planed edges anywhere along the length of the board.
Repeat the planing process with the remaining boards. One of the first pair of boards planed will have an edge marked with the number 2. Pair this with the number 2 edge on the third board. Continue matching edge numbers for the remaining boards.
Place the planks in position on a flat surface. Lift the planks one at a time and run a bead of carpenter’s glue along the edge of each joint, then place the plank back into position.
Place the clamps across the planks no more than 12 inches apart. Tighten them until they apply light, uniform pressure across the table top.
Adjust each plank as you continue to tighten the clamps. The glue initially lubricates the joints and increases their tendency to slide out of position. Time spent adjusting the boards now can save hours of surface planing and sanding once the project dries.
Continue to tighten the clamps until you have uniform glue squeeze-out along each joint.
Allow the glue to cure for at least 24 hours before removing the clamps.