How do I support this tabletop?

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Forum topic by wscnmsu posted 12-27-2016 05:09 AM 768 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 740 days

12-27-2016 05:09 AM


I posted originally about a coffee table for my wife and got a ton of helpful tips and advice. So thank you all. I don’t have much woodworking experience, but I’m intrigued by projects and can think through things pretty well.

The original table she wanted was this:

But I got her to change her mind to this (I thought this would be a simpler build that I would be more comfortable with – please correct me if I’m wrong):

Now I have a couple specific questions:

1. I assume a good approximate diameter would be about 36” that correct?
2. Can I use 3 2X10 and then 2 2×4 to make each round circle?
3. How does the top circle stay supported? Is it the use of dowels?

11 replies so far

View DirtyMike's profile


637 posts in 1099 days

#1 posted 12-27-2016 05:59 AM

I remember this, didn’t want to use the x legs with the 45 half laps huh? 36-42 inches looks good. I wouldn’t mix 2×10 and 2×4 s for the circles, the 2×4s would be slithers in contrast. you are better off to build it from the same board if you can, Or at least the same stack of lumber. Dowels seem like the easiest method but hopefully others will chime in about that.

View jerryminer's profile


944 posts in 1638 days

#2 posted 12-27-2016 08:57 AM

I would suggest an odd number of approximately equal-sized planks, so 5 pieces 7”+ or 7 pieces 5” + to achieve 36”

Dowels would work. Screws would work (you could plug the screw holes). M&T of course.

The first design looks better, IMHO, and pretty straight-forward

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 2699 days

#3 posted 12-27-2016 09:25 AM

1. How well does a 36” table fit into your lounge room? Are you likely to move, and if so, are you likely to get a bigger / smaller or similar sized room? What would a 36” table look like in proportion to your other furniture? I’d suggest that you might not want to go below 30” (though you could if you had a reason to), and 42” seems large to me, but might be just perfect for your needs. But let me be quick to say that there is no single correct size for the table. The key is to decide your needs – well, your wife’s needs really, but then we all know that is the same thing ;-).

2. It’s generally considered better to use strips of wood that are about equal in width, but yes, you could use that combination. I wouldn’t be quite as open to it if you were using thinner material, but at 2” thick, I would think it might be less likely for the 10” boards to warp / cup or whatever.

3. Dowels do seem obvious, but you could consider pocket holes to fix the pillars to the top. I would use screws straight through the bottom into the pillars as the heads will not be seen. Use screws with some length as you will be going straight into end grain. Depending on what wood you use, pre-drill the holes.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View FancyShoes's profile


591 posts in 1561 days

#4 posted 12-27-2016 09:31 AM

Brad nails and glue

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2204 days

#5 posted 12-27-2016 12:51 PM

36” may not SOUND like a big table, but when it takes up a bunch of floor space in your living room, you might think differently.

So perhaps an OVAL shape? Something like 36”long and 20” wide. Will still give you plenty of table-top usage in front of a couch, without sacrificing the rest of the room.

Try cutting a 36” circle from cardboard and use 4 rolls of paper towels (for the legs ) to mock it up and see just how big a 36” table is.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3774 days

#6 posted 12-27-2016 02:51 PM

There’s a lot to consider when you build a project like this,first of all using construction grade wood is doomed to failure in the first place it tends to twist and cup, you will want some kiln dried wood perhaps poplar obtained from a hardwood supplier in your area. Another issue that new woodworkers don’t think about is wood movement, if you have unequal wood movement this design will tend to pull itself apart. Another issue might be that the bottom circle of wood might be something you’re constantly bumping your toes on because of the lack of legs to give clearance off of the floor. This design is going to require a center support if it’s going to be 36” in diameter or some battens installed to allow for wood movement. Another issue is if you have the correct tools to make this table.The absolute minimum tools you will need are a circular saw,jig saw and random orbital sander,but it would be much better if you have a table saw,router,bandsaw or jig saw plus the random orbital sander. Another key issue is what joinery to use to connect the support to the top and bottom,I would suggest mortise and tenon joinery.
This project can be a great lesson in design,wood sellection,wood movement,tool requirements and techniques and joinery.

Here are a few links that may help

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View wscnmsu's profile


6 posts in 740 days

#7 posted 12-27-2016 03:01 PM

Hi everyone,

Thanks as always for the wonderful help.

My thought with the different size wood: If I use 3 2×10 I get 28.5” width, then two 2×4s for the outside would give me another 7” to get to approximately 36”....can someone tell me why that thinking is bad? As in, do the boards just look too different from each other that it would be obvious I did that? Because I thought since even if I used 2×10 on the outside, I would end up cutting them down slimmer than 4 inches anyways…also, can I use construction grade wood, and just rip the rounded edges off to make the boards butt up against each other? I’m thinking use construction grade to minimize the cost of mess ups…also, I think I will have to go back to the top option because my wife likes it better. And she just reassured me LOL.

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3774 days

#8 posted 12-27-2016 03:11 PM

View wscnmsu's profile


6 posts in 740 days

#9 posted 12-27-2016 03:29 PM

Thanks for the links…I thought the last of the four was very readable, and I learned something new. Is there ANY board construction grade I could use to minimize cost that still would be nice for the coffee table? Or what would be the cheapest board that would not be construction grade that would be nice enough? can I get it at Home depot/Lowes?

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3774 days

#10 posted 12-27-2016 03:46 PM

If you feel you have to use construction grade material make sure it’s kiln dried known in the trades as KDF in my area standing for kiln dried fir. A hardwood that.s relatively inexpensive is poplar,as wood goes Home depot and lowes are quite a bit more expensive than a hardwood supplier. If you are really tight on money some folks tear apart pallets and make furniture out of them since pallets can be obtained at no cost,but it’s a very labor-intensive and time-consuming process to size and trim the pallet wood to usable material
No matter what route you take as far as your wood choice if you look for quarter sawn wood it will be much more stable and less lightly to twist and warp.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View jjo's profile


6 posts in 809 days

#11 posted 01-21-2017 10:24 PM

weight of table plus glue and few hidden fasteners will do it…

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