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Large Table Build - No Skirt - How to Join Legs

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Forum topic by Ir0nRaven posted 11-30-2016 01:57 PM 1254 views 1 time favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ir0nRaven

5 posts in 382 days


11-30-2016 01:57 PM

Hello! I’m new here, but have been wood working for a long time. I’ve built some traditional tables before, but I’m building a large one now, based off of this design:

Mine won’t be quite as thick – I’ve got 2.5” heart pine that’s 12” wide for the top and some 6”x6” posts that I’m going to rip down into legs. Overall dimensions will be aprox 104Lx40Wx30H. I can’t fit this into the house unless the legs are semi-removable. You’ll also notice there’s no skirt (which I like). I assume that they’ve done M&T from legs into table top, but it’s impossible to tell. Would that, plus tension from cable/all thread/whatever i end up using, keep the table sturdy? Does anyone have a better suggestion on how to join it all together?

Thanks for any help!!


9 replies so far

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bonesbr549

1445 posts in 2906 days


#1 posted 11-30-2016 02:17 PM

Well from the picture thats M&T with the top and a turnbuckle. Not keen on the turnbuckle part but thats a nice beefy table.

If it does not detract from your design maybe a through wedged tenon with a contrasting wood for the wedge? You could also put a board on top of the legs and screw down into the leggs and then attach that board into the top that would work too.

Another thought would be to use lags down into the leggs from above in top counter sunk holes and hide it under a pattern like a butterfly inlay.

many ways to skin that cat so to speak. Good luck and post pics of your projects sounds interesting.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

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ajshobby

87 posts in 2147 days


#2 posted 11-30-2016 02:20 PM

A decent sized mortice and tenon or even a double m&t then gravity should do the rest of the work. You could also run a few lag bolts into the top once it’s in the final resting spot. Please share pics of the progress. Should be a fun project to follow.

AJ in Minneapolis

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Ir0nRaven

5 posts in 382 days


#3 posted 11-30-2016 03:12 PM

Thanks for the replies! I think I’ll plan on the M&T with the turnbuckle. See how it works out, then I can add countersunk bolts later if I need to – I like the idea of hiding it behind butterfly, etc. Thanks!

I’ll start a project page for it once I get everything planed.

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JBrow

1274 posts in 759 days


#4 posted 11-30-2016 03:40 PM

Ir0nRaven,

I suspect the pictured table has a floating top; simply set onto the legs. The may be some form of alignment pins, which could be mortises and tenons, but simple dowels in the center posts would keep the top from sliding around. Since the top is so massive, the turn buckle braces are perhaps enough to keep the top from lifting up.

My conclusion is driven by the second photo you posted where there appears to be a shim between the leg in the foreground and the top. The shim seems to taper past the center of the leg.

An idea for attaching your top would to add a stretcher on top of each leg assembly that would set in and be concealed by a dado routed into the top. Some screws or lags in counter-bored slots milled into the stretcher would keep the top in place, allow the top to be removed, and permit unimpeded expansion and contraction of the top. This method avoids attaching through its upper surface and allows the top to be easily removed.

It starts by attaching a piece of stock on top of each leg assembly, running from one leg to the other over the center post in the leg assembly. Lacking a better term, I will call this a stretcher. Several slots that are just deep enough to conceal the head of a lag screw outfitted with a washer could be milled into the stretcher. A second through slot could then be routed in the center of the shallow slots wide enough for the attaching lag screw to pass. The slots would be parallel to the grain of the stretcher and spaced along the length of the stretcher.

Then a dado would be routed into the top that will align with the stretchers that are now fastened to the top of each leg assembly. The dado would be wide and long enough so that the top will set onto the stretchers. If the dado in the top is deep enough, the stretcher will not be seen. The top would be secured by shooting lag screws up through the slots in the stretchers and into the top. Should the top expand or contract across its width, the slots will keep the top becoming damaged.

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Loren

9633 posts in 3486 days


#5 posted 11-30-2016 03:44 PM

It looks to me like in the sample gravity
is doing the work, with cork pads. My work
bench is like this, though it has skirts around
the outside of the legs. I had countersunk
bolts in the legs but after disassembling the
bench once to move it I never put them back
in and haven’t had any problems.

This design lacks a stretcher, though the
turnbuckles may serve that purpose of keeping
the legs perpendicular. Stub mortises or alignment
pegs, unlglued, are probably sufficient in
combination with the turnbuckles. If you want
to be able to disassemble the table for moving
you might go with this approach. Otherwise,
through wedged tenons would be a nice touch.

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jbay

1857 posts in 738 days


#6 posted 11-30-2016 04:25 PM

It appears to me that the leg is mortised into the top. The 2nd pic just looks like the top is not down all the way.
(The reason I think it’s mortised is because everywhere else appears to be M&T).
With the turnbuckles putting the pressure onto the tenons I don’t think your 2 1/2” top would be thick enough to accomplish the same strength and the turnbuckles may pull the legs out of 90 deg.
I like JBrow’s idea to recess a stretcher across the leg assemblies.

-- If anyone would like to see my Portfolio, PM me and I would be glad to send you the link.

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Ir0nRaven

5 posts in 382 days


#7 posted 11-30-2016 04:44 PM

I agree that the legs are M&T’d into the top. jbay, that’s a good point – my stock is thinner, might not work as well. I like JBrow’s idea. Just to make sure we’re clear, I did a (really) rough sketch. Is this what you’re getting at?

Doing some rough math, once I plane everything, I can probably count on a 2” thick top. Figure the stringer would have to be 3/4” minimum to be able to take a counter-sunk bolt with washer, which would leave about 1” to bolt into the top. Sounds risky, and I’m afraid a 1” bolt isn’t gonna give me that much support (since it’s going to be a rotating moment of force to hold the legs vertical).

I’m thinking right now, I build it with just M&T on top of each leg. If it turns out not to be stable, I can cut off the tenons, replace with JBrow’s stringer, and mill out the negative of the stringer.

In theory, if the turn buckles are rigid, they should keep the legs from going in or out. We’ll see…

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jbay

1857 posts in 738 days


#8 posted 11-30-2016 05:05 PM

Make slots in the stretcher where the bolts attach to the top so that the top can expand and contract.
(good point on the turnbuckles)

-- If anyone would like to see my Portfolio, PM me and I would be glad to send you the link.

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firefighterontheside

16948 posts in 1695 days


#9 posted 11-30-2016 05:05 PM

Its hard to say what they have done. What im thinking is a mortise in the top of the leg, a shallow mortise in the bottom of the table with a “loose” tenon screwed into it. Place table top on and use screws of some sort to pin the legs to the tenon.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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