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Attach table apron using dado?

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Forum topic by DerekJ posted 08-21-2016 09:33 PM 640 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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DerekJ

80 posts in 354 days


08-21-2016 09:33 PM

Topic tags/keywords: dado for apron table joinery table apron

Hello! Last time I posted I got some really great feedback so I am hoping for the same here…

I am working on a 16×49 sofa table for my dad’s new house. I’ve never done a table with wooden legs and an apron before so I wanted to check before I made a mistake. I’ve never done a mortise and tenon style joint so I was wanting to use a technique I already can use confidently.

Would there be any issue with wood movement if I put a dado into my table legs and used that to glue in the 3” wide apron?

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE


18 replies so far

View nightguy's profile

nightguy

213 posts in 129 days


#1 posted 08-21-2016 11:32 PM

I never done it, but does not seem much different then a M&T joint. You just dont have the shoulder, and maybe not as deep with a dado.

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

7933 posts in 1846 days


#2 posted 08-22-2016 12:15 AM

The shoulder is important, it adds a lot of rigidity. The design has been tried and tested over hundreds of years, give it a try before trying to innovate.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2198 posts in 947 days


#3 posted 08-22-2016 12:10 PM

+1 ^. With no shoulder you loose a lot of stabliity and strength.

Many ways to do them: traditional or floating tenons, by hand or machine, Dominoes etc.

If you are routing the dados, you’re 1/2 way there!!

Practice on some scrap you will see how easy it really is. Good luck!

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1836 days


#4 posted 08-22-2016 12:15 PM

+1 to doing the mortise/tenon. By drilling out the waste, and cleaning up with a chisel, it’s fairly straightforward. Do your mortise first, and then sneak up on the tenon size to get the right fit. Leave the mortise depth a little more than the length of the tenon to make sure you can seat it all the way in.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4036 posts in 1817 days


#5 posted 08-22-2016 01:14 PM

A dado joint like you suggest will be very weak compared to mortise and tenon joint, there is just not enough glue surface and without the shoulders of M&T to prevent racking the dado joint will likely fail fairly soon. Don’t be afraid to learn M&T, it is the best joint for almost all furniture construction. Furniture that is constructed with M&T will last hundreds of years.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View DerekJ's profile

DerekJ

80 posts in 354 days


#6 posted 08-22-2016 01:30 PM

Appreciating all the input, as always. Three more questions for you guys:

1) My aprons are only going to be 3/4” so my instinct would be to use a 1/4” tenon centered in the wood – does that provide enough strength?

2) How deep does the mortise need to be to provide appropriate strength?

3) Glue all surfaces of the tenon? Does glue also need to be on the shoulder?

I will give it some practice and see what happens!

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE

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JayT

4786 posts in 1677 days


#7 posted 08-22-2016 01:31 PM

Totally agree with the others. If you are going to build furniture, you’ll need to learn to do M&T for these kinds of situations. If you absolutely don’t want to do it on this build, then the easiest solution might be the tried and true cylindrical floating tenon, otherwise known as dowels. :-) M&T would be stronger and a better joint and should be part of any furniture builders skill set, but a good dowelled joint is strong enough and a lot easier for a novice to pull off well.

Of the various methods to do that kind of joinery, I would rank them from best to worst as:

M&T
Floating tenon (i.e. Domino)
dowels

big gap

pocket screws

I would never use or recommend pocket screws on fine furniture, but they can be used for that kind of cross grain joint with some degree of success.

Edit: Since we were posting at the same time


Appreciating all the input, as always. Three more questions for you guys:

1) My aprons are only going to be 3/4” so my instinct would be to use a 1/4” tenon centered in the wood – does that provide enough strength?

2) How deep does the mortise need to be to provide appropriate strength?

3) Glue all surfaces of the tenon? Does glue also need to be on the shoulder?

I will give it some practice and see what happens!

- DerekJ

Two schools of thought on the mortise, one says to do thirds, so 1/4in tenon and two 1/4in wide shoulders. The other has the tenon as 1/2 the total width and each shoulder as 1/4 of the width. For 3/4 stock, that would be a 3/8 thick tenon and two 3/16 shoulders. I prefer the second method on 4/4 or thinner stock, but either one works if the joint is fitted well and doing the thirds is many times an easier and quicker way to go, especially if using hand tools to pound out the mortises.

How deep? Five times the tenon thickness is the general rule, so for a 1/4in thick tenon, it should be 1-1/4 long.

Yes, glue all surfaces.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View jdh122's profile

jdh122

879 posts in 2284 days


#8 posted 08-22-2016 01:50 PM

I’d say go for the thickest tenon you can in your situation. The idea of making it a third or a half of the thickness is done to avoid making the mortise walls too thin. But since the legs are thicker than the apron this is not a concern – the joint only gets stronger as the tenon gets thicker. So personally I would do a tenon 1/2 inchthick. Although, like JayT says, even if you do 1/4 inch it will hold the table together.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View DerekJ's profile

DerekJ

80 posts in 354 days


#9 posted 08-22-2016 01:55 PM

As always, this has been very informative! I’ll give this some practice on Wednesday and be back with questions afterwards!

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE

View GR8HUNTER's profile (online now)

GR8HUNTER

1150 posts in 179 days


#10 posted 08-22-2016 02:03 PM



Appreciating all the input, as always. Three more questions for you guys:

1) My aprons are only going to be 3/4” so my instinct would be to use a 1/4” tenon centered in the wood – does that provide enough strength?

2) How deep does the mortise need to be to provide appropriate strength?

3) Glue all surfaces of the tenon? Does glue also need to be on the shoulder?

I will give it some practice and see what happens!

- DerekJ

1- YES
2- 1”
3- YES

-- Tony Reinholds,Pa. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

7933 posts in 1846 days


#11 posted 08-22-2016 03:47 PM



Appreciating all the input, as always. Three more questions for you guys:

1) My aprons are only going to be 3/4” so my instinct would be to use a 1/4” tenon centered in the wood – does that provide enough strength?

2) How deep does the mortise need to be to provide appropriate strength?

3) Glue all surfaces of the tenon? Does glue also need to be on the shoulder?

I will give it some practice and see what happens!

- DerekJ


1. Yes
2. I always mitered my tenons so they nearly touch.
3. Yes/no

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View DerekJ's profile

DerekJ

80 posts in 354 days


#12 posted 08-30-2016 03:03 AM

Thanks again everyone. I’ve practiced on some scrap and believe I have it down well enough to put the table together this week!

-- Derek ~ Omaha, NE

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

809 posts in 2316 days


#13 posted 08-30-2016 02:45 PM

Derek, good advice from above, but at times a mortise with one end open is a stopped dado. Depending on the load for the table I’ve done aprons by cutting a stopped dado into the leg with the router table and then cut the tenon to fit with my tenon jig. This is how I did my last table project, it was very strong and quick to execute. If you check out HFF.com on YouTube High Falls Furniture in Vermont, he uses a dado blade method and router template trick that is a pretty slick way to do production work, and as I learned long ago there’s many ways to skin a cat. That said if I’ve got the time and it’s a piece I expect my children to fight over one day, I go m&t.—best o luck Chef Derek ( glad you spell it right)

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View MNgary's profile

MNgary

295 posts in 1883 days


#14 posted 09-03-2016 12:01 PM

Derek, the tenon should be snug on all four sides, not just two.

-- I dream of the world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View marshallmosby56's profile

marshallmosby56

18 posts in 146 days


#15 posted 09-03-2016 06:48 PM

Nicely done DerekJ! M&T worked out really well. Glad to hear you’ve learnt something new and shared your experience.

-- :)

showing 1 through 15 of 18 replies

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