How do I attach a lower shelf directly to the legs of a table without a skirt?

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Forum topic by David posted 01-12-2010 05:13 PM 18418 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View David's profile


110 posts in 3314 days

01-12-2010 05:13 PM

Hi all,

I’m about to build a new side table for myself that will have a lower shelf which is attached directly to the legs of the table however I”m unsure how to do this? Do I use a fasterner? A joint? I

Any and all feedback is much appreciated!


-- dcutter

13 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3615 days

#1 posted 01-12-2010 05:23 PM

you pretty much nailed it (pun intended).

you can either use a slot in the legs that will take the corners of the shelf – however depending on how much weight that shelf needs to carry, and how thin the legs are – this might not be the best way to go. or you could use wooden brackets under the shelf that will screw to the legs and to the shelf and be hidden by the shelf.

it really boils down to the design of the table, and to your personal choice. can we see what the table looks like (legs/shelf)?

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View MedicKen's profile


1612 posts in 3429 days

#2 posted 01-12-2010 05:27 PM

Is the shelf solid wood or plywood? If solid you are gonna have to allow for movement. Cut a mortise in the legs for the shelf to fit in. Inside the mortise add a dowel. Drill a hole in the shelf for the dowel but do not glue it in the shelf.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View David's profile


110 posts in 3314 days

#3 posted 01-12-2010 05:27 PM

Thanks for the input. I haven’t started building yet so, unfortunatley, I can’t give you any pictures. The table is going to be somewhat dainty with tapered legs so I’m a bit worried about using slots for fear of strength. On the other hand, I’d rather not use a support underneath as I want to make sure that the support is not visible.


-- dcutter

View David's profile


110 posts in 3314 days

#4 posted 01-12-2010 05:28 PM

Yes, the shelf will be solid wood.

-- dcutter

View jpw1995's profile


376 posts in 4265 days

#5 posted 01-12-2010 07:29 PM

Pocket hole screws? Don’t know for sure if this will work since we can’t see the table, but it may be an option.

-- JP, Louisville, KY

View Gary's profile


9326 posts in 3400 days

#6 posted 01-12-2010 07:58 PM

Is the shelf going to support any weight?

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View David's profile


110 posts in 3314 days

#7 posted 01-12-2010 07:59 PM

maybe a coffee table book or a couple of magazines. nothing more than a couple of pounds.

-- dcutter

View Occie gilliam's profile

Occie gilliam

505 posts in 3263 days

#8 posted 01-12-2010 11:18 PM

Hi David
it could be something out of brass, copper, even silver if the wood call for it. I love dark wood and copper together. I feel that when metal is used it adds something.
not off the self things.
Just a penny though

-- OC down in Costa Rica. come down and see me some time. I'll keep the light on for you

View BTKS's profile


1986 posts in 3431 days

#9 posted 01-14-2010 04:41 AM

The above responses are excellent solutions. It might jeopardize the finish, but a dowel bored in from the front and into the shelf would be sturdy. You could cut a cross grain plug to hide the end grain of the dowel. Yes, I know, dowels are so old school. Hope it works out. BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View yarydoc's profile


417 posts in 3111 days

#10 posted 01-14-2010 06:02 AM

How about making your legs in two pieces, install a threaded insert or dowell and mount them through the shelf.

-- Ray , Florence Alabama

View David's profile


110 posts in 3314 days

#11 posted 01-14-2010 03:50 PM

All excellent suggestions! I appreciate the commentary and feedback and will be sure to share my results with you all!


-- dcutter

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3860 days

#12 posted 01-14-2010 04:01 PM

The pocket holes will work

I recently repaired and refinished a very dainty table like you describe. His daughters friend sat on it and crushed it but

the lower shelf had the corners cut, to fit the leg (which were round but that shouldnt matter). An “eye” hook was screwed into the leg, shelf sat on top of eye hook and a panhead screw was placed through the hook, into the shelf…............surprisingly, it was quite strong…..............and easy…......and invisible….....

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View David's profile


110 posts in 3314 days

#13 posted 01-14-2010 04:12 PM

Roman – That is a very very intesting idea – and perhaps the simplest solution that I’ve heard yet! Thank you for sharing.

-- dcutter

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