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Leg / apron joinery for heavy table top

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Forum topic by Lenga posted 03-09-2018 02:56 PM 1176 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Lenga

3 posts in 197 days


03-09-2018 02:56 PM

Topic tags/keywords: pocket screws apron table leg butcher block

Hello all,

I’m a DYI’er with above average skills but not in possession of woodworking tools; i.e., I cannot make a mortise and tenon joint. I want to construct a farmhouse style table using four hardwood monastery table legs (5” square top and bottom) and a 62×39 ash butcher block table top (weight in the area of 90 lbs).

My evil plan for now is to attach an apron (using 1×6 poplar ripped to 41/2”) to the legs with pocket screws, and a corner bracket (cut from ordinary pine 2×4) with a hanger bolt in each leg. I’ll include at least one 2×4 brace between the long apron rails. And I’ll use Rockler table top fasteners to attach the top.

What are your thoughts / suggestions about this? Stable enough?

Thanks very much for your help.


29 replies so far

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 766 days


#1 posted 03-09-2018 03:18 PM

I would suggest learning how to make mortise and tenon joints. They’re not that hard!

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5050 posts in 4079 days


#2 posted 03-09-2018 03:31 PM

You’re gonna build a “wiggly” table.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View BoardButcherer's profile

BoardButcherer

144 posts in 213 days


#3 posted 03-09-2018 03:37 PM

A patient man can build Mortise and Tenon joints using a circular saw and a sharpened screwdriver.

It’s a big piece of furniture, take your time and do it right.

View LesB's profile

LesB

1801 posts in 3562 days


#4 posted 03-09-2018 05:15 PM

I join the chorus about mortise and tenons. You can cut tenons with a hand saw and the mortise you can chisel out by hand. Or you could start you wood working tool collection with a router to cut the mortises (using a template guide). The tenons can also be cut with a router but a saw is easier. Just be sure to cut your mortise first then fit the tenon to it. There are many how to videos on the internet on cutting these joints by hand and with tools like a router.
Actually the 1×4 apron could be the size of your tenon so just cut a mortise in the leg to accept the whole thing, although I would trim back the width of the apron by 1/2” the length of the tenon so the joint won’t be visible.
See attached drawing of one leg not to scale. I would also put cross pinned dowels to hold the tenon in the mortise Not drawn in here.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12336 posts in 2499 days


#5 posted 03-09-2018 06:00 PM

Lenga , your plan is fine. Go for it.
edit; one caveat—You’ll need heavy screws and I would consider beefing up the apron ends so they are double thickness for the last 4-5 inches. The corner bracket assembly will make whole much stronger.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Lenga's profile

Lenga

3 posts in 197 days


#6 posted 03-09-2018 07:14 PM

Thanks a lot, all.

I’m also considering creating the table in the image here (Sorry – not bright enough to figure out how to embed a photo):

https://www.chairish.com/product/686436/restoration-hardware-17th-c-monastery-table

Difference being it will have braces connecting the legs width-wise at the bottom (near the floor) and a center beam connecting those braces at the center length-wise. (Yeah… all attached with pocket screws).

I’m assuming the added bracing at the bottom boosts the stability of the table considerably. Does that change anyone’s opinion?

Thanks again, gentlemen.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10110 posts in 1605 days


#7 posted 03-09-2018 07:18 PM

We are not gentle.

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

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4928 posts in 2470 days


#8 posted 03-09-2018 08:12 PM

What are your thoughts / suggestions about this? Stable enough?

Initially it will be, but eventually a wobble will develop. Table legs take a lot of abuse and also exert a tremendous amount of leverage on the joinery. If you are going to spend some money on nice materials, why put it together with shoddy methods? Make it last, mortise and tenon joints are your friend, they are not that hard.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View LesB's profile

LesB

1801 posts in 3562 days


#9 posted 03-10-2018 01:18 AM

Another thought. Based on the picture I would add a top plate (brown in image below) about 1” thick by 6” wide that spans across to top of two legs on each end. Fasten this top plate to the top of the leg with 2 1/2” screws. T (hen screw the plate to the bottom of the table between the two legs. That along with the other bracing in the picture should do the job. Sorry I didn’t take the time to make fancy legs.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Lenga's profile

Lenga

3 posts in 197 days


#10 posted 03-10-2018 01:28 AM



I join the chorus about mortise and tenons. You can cut tenons with a hand saw and the mortise you can chisel out by hand. Or you could start you wood working tool collection with a router to cut the mortises (using a template guide). The tenons can also be cut with a router but a saw is easier. Just be sure to cut your mortise first then fit the tenon to it. There are many how to videos on the internet on cutting these joints by hand and with tools like a router.

I hadn’t considered this kind of M&T, reason being I’ve never seen one. I like it. Looks doable. I’m considering the following set up:

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt-Fixed-Corded-Router-with-Table-Included/1000318615

Thoughts?

View LesB's profile

LesB

1801 posts in 3562 days


#11 posted 03-10-2018 11:47 PM

I can’t speak to the quality of that router, never heard of the brand, probably Asian knock off. I think that small table may be close to useless over time (too small).

Going back to the website you gave for the table. I put in below with numberd points. #1 That is most likely a 2”+ thick board that goes all the way across the bottom of the table as I illustrated above. However it may just be a square block screwed to the bottom of the table with a mortise for the turned piece under it.. #2 Is obviously a lathe turned piece that most likely has a large round tenon on each end. The top end tenon goes into a mortise cut in #1.
The bottom tenon goes into a mortise the the big square block #3 (foot). #4 points to where those stretchers are most likely fitted into mortise and tenon joints to connect everything.

Looks strong and stable to me.

-- Les B, Oregon

View BoardButcherer's profile

BoardButcherer

144 posts in 213 days


#12 posted 03-13-2018 07:18 PM


I join the chorus about mortise and tenons. You can cut tenons with a hand saw and the mortise you can chisel out by hand. Or you could start you wood working tool collection with a router to cut the mortises (using a template guide). The tenons can also be cut with a router but a saw is easier. Just be sure to cut your mortise first then fit the tenon to it. There are many how to videos on the internet on cutting these joints by hand and with tools like a router.

I hadn t considered this kind of M&T, reason being I ve never seen one. I like it. Looks doable. I m considering the following set up:

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt-Fixed-Corded-Router-with-Table-Included/1000318615

Thoughts?

- Lenga

Stay away from anything you find in the BORG stores, for one.

Secondly, and speaking from firsthand experience, those molded plastic tables are rarely ever level out of the box, and if they are, they won’t be for long. You’re better off buying a router, a top, and building your own.

Will you do it for $170? No. It’ll probably cost you 3 times as much when you’re done, but it’ll be done right and you won’t be buying that tool 3 times.

Remember the synonym to the phrase “Too good to be true” is “Too cheap to be good.”

View jdh122's profile

jdh122

1034 posts in 2936 days


#13 posted 03-13-2018 07:40 PM

Don’t buy that small router table. You don’t need (or even want) a router table to make mortises, you want a handheld plunge router. Any one you can find will do the job – you can even make do with a fixed base router, though it will be a bit trickier. You can also use it to cut the tenons, although you might need to make an auxiliary base for it.
Then, if you find you really like woodworking, you should build yourself a router table (but even then, you probably won’t use it for mortises).

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View Rich's profile

Rich

3543 posts in 708 days


#14 posted 03-13-2018 07:47 PM


You re better off buying a router, a top, and building your own.

- BoardButcherer

How would you suggest the OP build his own router table if he doesn’t have any woodworking tools?

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View BoardButcherer's profile

BoardButcherer

144 posts in 213 days


#15 posted 03-14-2018 09:02 PM


You re better off buying a router, a top, and building your own.

- BoardButcherer

How would you suggest the OP build his own router table if he doesn t have any woodworking tools?

- Rich

He buys the router and uses it by hand in combination with his circular saw, just like other mortals.

We know he has a drill because he’s admitted to knowledge of the unholy terror of pocket holes. He’s got to at least have a circular saw. If not he has a hand saw. I don’t think the stock for this 5’2” x 3’7” ash table top just appeared on his doorstep ready to assemble.

Or maybe it did? I don’t know. You can find all kinds of crap on Etsy and Banggood nowadays…

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