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Using dowels to attach table aprons to legs?

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Forum topic by Medici posted 01-07-2017 12:15 AM 1314 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Medici

45 posts in 421 days


01-07-2017 12:15 AM

Topic tags/keywords: jig maple oak blade jointer

Hello all. I mentioned in my last post about joining table side aprons to legs with a joint that would require a mortise & tenon style, but I’m trying to explore other methods.

I’ve found plenty of videos on dowel joining for table tops, and legs on coffee tables, but what about a full dining table?

I’m doing a 60in long by 42in wide maple top table, which will obviously have some weight to it. The side aprons are 6/4 poplar, cut into 2×4s, and the legs are 4×4 re-purposed & turned pine(?) (maybe spruce or fir, but something soft. I haven’t cut into the wood yet to find out).

My question would be – if I use, say 5/8 oak dowels glued with titebond & into the end grain of the poplar to attach to the legs, would this joint hold strong enough for a table of this size?

I saw a video on Youtube showing the strength of kreg jig joints, dowel joints, and mortise & tenon joints. The dowel joints with wood glue held up to 150lbs~ of pressure, but this was done on a simple 1/2 dowel joint, not a 5/8ths joint; however, my aprons are 60” at the longest points. I’m running two pieces of that 6/4 poplar across the 42in width as well for extra support, which would also be doweled in. Just want to get some input before, in case I am wasting my time.

As always, thanks everyone.


5 replies so far

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

1275 posts in 760 days


#1 posted 01-07-2017 01:18 AM

Medici,

My preference is mortise and tenon joinery because there is a greater surface for gluing and because the mortise and tenon can be pinned together with a dowel for added strength. I have also have noted that older furniture using dowel joinery seem to consistently demonstrate joint failure. But I am not sure whether this is due to old hide glue failure and/or due to an inherent weakness in the joint.

Nonetheless, the dowel joinery you are considering could probably work fine with a PVA glue. The stress on the leg to apron joints would be mostly from dragging the table across a carpeted floor and wobble from cutting a tough piece of meat with a dull knife. Assuming the top end of the legs is flush to the table aprons, the weight of the top would be mostly borne by the legs and not the aprons. Using two or even three dowel at each joint would be better than a single dowel. For me at least, the challenge in using the dowel joint would be ensuring perfect alignment between the legs and the aprons.

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Medici

45 posts in 421 days


#2 posted 01-07-2017 02:10 AM



Medici,

My preference is mortise and tenon joinery because there is a greater surface for gluing and because the mortise and tenon can be pinned together with a dowel for added strength. I have also have noted that older furniture using dowel joinery seem to consistently demonstrate joint failure. But I am not sure whether this is due to old hide glue failure and/or due to an inherent weakness in the joint.

Nonetheless, the dowel joinery you are considering could probably work fine with a PVA glue. The stress on the leg to apron joints would be mostly from dragging the table across a carpeted floor and wobble from cutting a tough piece of meat with a dull knife. Assuming the top end of the legs is flush to the table aprons, the weight of the top would be mostly borne by the legs and not the aprons. Using two or even three dowel at each joint would be better than a single dowel. For me at least, the challenge in using the dowel joint would be ensuring perfect alignment between the legs and the aprons.

- JBrow

Thanks for the response, but I have a question.. Why do you specifically state that using PVA glue would work? What’s the huge difference between polyvinyl glue and titebond 2?

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pintodeluxe

5468 posts in 2653 days


#3 posted 01-07-2017 03:11 AM

1+ pegged mortise and tenon joints. Through mortise and tenon joints are particularly strong. Even without glue, a well-fit M&T is remarkably stable.

Expect that someone will sit on, bump into, and drag a table across the floor. It’s not that dowels are not acceptable joints, they are. Heck, a Domino is just a wide, flat dowel. It’s more that making our own furniture allows us to craft the joinery in a more traditional or better way than mass produced pieces.

Good luck with whatever method you choose.

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

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JBrow

1275 posts in 760 days


#4 posted 01-07-2017 03:22 PM

Medici,

I see that my original response could suggest that Titebond II should be substituted for another type of glue. That was not my intent. Titebond II Premium should be a good glue for your project. The Titebond Glue Guide states that Titebond II Premium is a PVA glue.

http://www.titebond.com/Libraries/LiteraturePDFs/FF683_GlueGuideTB.sflb.ashx

I harbor perhaps an uninformed opinion that in most wood working applications, the polyvinyl acetate (PVA) class of glue is superior (based on performance and ease of use). The only failures in a glue joint I ever experienced were when I failed to close and clamp the joint within the open time of the PVA glue. My early projects with less than perfect joinery but glued with PVA glue are still holding together after 30+ years.

I apologize for any confusion my statement may have caused.

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Medici

45 posts in 421 days


#5 posted 01-07-2017 03:55 PM



Medici,

I see that my original response could suggest that Titebond II should be substituted for another type of glue. That was not my intent. Titebond II Premium should be a good glue for your project. The Titebond Glue Guide states that Titebond II Premium is a PVA glue.

http://www.titebond.com/Libraries/LiteraturePDFs/FF683_GlueGuideTB.sflb.ashx

I harbor perhaps an uninformed opinion that in most wood working applications, the polyvinyl acetate (PVA) class of glue is superior (based on performance and ease of use). The only failures in a glue joint I ever experienced were when I failed to close and clamp the joint within the open time of the PVA glue. My early projects with less than perfect joinery but glued with PVA glue are still holding together after 30+ years.

I apologize for any confusion my statement may have caused.

- JBrow

No problem jbrow, i appreciate it!

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