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Modern Square Legs for Desk Stability Question

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Forum topic by Aric posted 10-24-2017 07:17 AM 1626 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Aric

9 posts in 156 days


10-24-2017 07:17 AM

Topic tags/keywords: table desk leg legs square rectangle stable stability desgin modern

Hello all,

I am building a desk and had a question about leg stability. My desk is going to be about 20 inches wide, 37 inches long and 27 inches high. I wanted to build legs that were essentially two rectangles, flush with either end of the desk. See Picture attached. The leg rectangle would be 25 inches high, and 20 inches wide. My question is about the stability of this design. How thick should I make the four pieces that comprise the legs? How should I join them together? I was thinking about doing an 3/4 inches thick, 3 inches wide and using two dowels per joint. I want the desk to be stable and not to rock. I really like the sleek look and don’t want to add any cross braces if I can avoid it. What are your thoughts? Thanks!!

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11 replies so far

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2704 posts in 3250 days


#1 posted 10-24-2017 09:21 AM

Your description of the build looks sound. If the legs are solidly attached to the top I can’t see that they’d move at all.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Rick_M's profile

Rick_M

10471 posts in 2193 days


#2 posted 10-24-2017 04:32 PM

It’ll be fine if built from steel. Built from wood it might feel sturdy at first, assuming good joinery, but it won’t hold up and within a year or two it will be wobbly. Wood joinery just isn’t rigid enough for that design.

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

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

8137 posts in 1299 days


#3 posted 10-24-2017 04:36 PM

It might have a chance if you box jointed everything.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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RRBOU

166 posts in 2105 days


#4 posted 10-24-2017 05:38 PM

It looks like you are incorporating a cross piece between the legs. This will defiantly degrade the stability.

-- If guns cause crime all of mine are defective Randy

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Aric

9 posts in 156 days


#5 posted 10-24-2017 05:49 PM

Hmm… I can’t use steel and I was really hoping to keep the design as close to that as possible. What if I were to increase the thickness to 1 1/4 inches and used 3 dowels?

RRBOU, which cross piece would be reducing stability? The top or the bottom? Why would that be the case?

Thank you all for your help!

View Aric's profile

Aric

9 posts in 156 days


#6 posted 10-24-2017 05:51 PM

Also, which direction of instability should I be concerned with? I was thinking it would be less secure from a forward to backward movement rather than from left to right.

View jonah's profile

jonah

1377 posts in 3111 days


#7 posted 10-24-2017 06:18 PM

It will rack like crazy left to right. You need some kind of a stretcher or at least an apron to prevent left to right racking.

View Snipes's profile

Snipes

150 posts in 2057 days


#8 posted 10-24-2017 07:14 PM

I agree with others, needs a diagonal brace.

-- if it is to be it is up to me

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2704 posts in 3250 days


#9 posted 10-24-2017 07:58 PM

It will hold, but if you’re unsure, instead of using dowels, use very long screws and then put dowel looking plugs over them. The top, if screwed and glued will never loosen from the legs.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Loren's profile

Loren

9556 posts in 3461 days


#10 posted 10-24-2017 08:28 PM

I am pessimistic. At least make a plan to add
some triangular gussets later if necessary.

A general design called a “parsons table” has
been successful in wood. Worth a look for
ideas of what works.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

1422 posts in 1200 days


#11 posted 10-24-2017 09:38 PM

I agree with others that the square box legs are not the strongest approach. The will tend to rack if you put lateral force without some sort of bracing. You can test this by simply making a box with without top and bottom and sit on it. Id you shift your weight will sitting, you will probably end up on the floor.

Another problem I see with that design is that if the floor isn’t perfectly flat the board on the bottom may rock like a seesaw. Generally not a problem on newer homes but not uncommon on older homes with wood floors. You may find you need to put some pads on the bottom so that it only makes contact with the floor on the 4 corners.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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