Dovetail splined miter joints strong enough for table legs?

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Forum topic by Opsis posted 12-20-2015 02:37 AM 3376 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 854 days

12-20-2015 02:37 AM

Topic tags/keywords: miter joint table leg spline splined dovetail question joining

I’m building an oddly shape table that will be used as a kitchen bar. 8 ft long, 36 in tall, 16 in wide.

The legs are 5/4” birch panels that span the width of the table top (also 5/4”) for a design of clean lines. To keep a clean boxy look I’d like to join the legs to the table top with miter joints splined with dovetails, similar to this example from

The example above shows a dovetail splined miter joint used for a coffee table or bench. My table will have much taller legs, and thus a longer lever arm to apply stress to joint. I plan on running a steel stretcher connecting the two legs.

I love the look of the joint, but is it strong enough for this application? This is my first table project, so appreciate any comments or suggestions!

7 replies so far

View conifur's profile


955 posts in 1116 days

#1 posted 12-20-2015 02:44 AM

NO!!!!!!! They will snap like a dried twig with any movement left to right. They would need some lower bracing left to right. You have a 3ft lever over a 8ft fulcrum or vise versa to snap the verticals flat if any side force is put on it, if the force was always down it would hold, but any lateral force the long way will fold like a deck of cards.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View ThomasChippendale's profile


244 posts in 897 days

#2 posted 12-20-2015 03:12 AM

The joint for such a project would involve the maximum amount of contact area between the legs and top and a strong adhesive. I would use a box joint or closely spaces through dovetail joint and marine epoxy. If you can spare a right angle brace in the middle, the better.

-- PJ

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2654 days

#3 posted 12-21-2015 01:25 AM

I love the look but share the above concerns re: structural integrity. I think you could glue a long triangular “gusset” under that joint and achieve a strong joint. I would not run it to the table edge which would make it nearly invisable.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View pintodeluxe's profile


5620 posts in 2778 days

#4 posted 12-21-2015 07:24 AM

I think you could achieve that look with dominos or loose tenons for strength. Add the dovetail splines for looks. The steel stretcher you are planning should help to resist racking.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View langski93's profile


111 posts in 3397 days

#5 posted 12-21-2015 03:38 PM

Here is what I did. You may be able to do the same by adding a stretcher with through tenors even if you use different dovetail joinery. This coffee table is rock solid and we use it as a bench sometime when we have a full house.

-- Langski, New Hampshire

View Opsis's profile


4 posts in 854 days

#6 posted 12-22-2015 03:43 AM

Thanks for all the advice! I’m going to go with box joints instead of miters and add a stretcher underneath the table top to prevent racking. Will post pics when I’m done (hopefully by the end of the year).

Beautiful coffee table @langski93 ! How did you join the stretcher to the legs?

View langski93's profile


111 posts in 3397 days

#7 posted 12-22-2015 12:46 PM

Thanks Opsis.
The stretcher is held to each leg by a wedged through tenon. 2 wedges in each tenon. Sorry I don’t have a better photo, but you may be able to zoom in on it.

-- Langski, New Hampshire

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