Need help with an Angle for a 14 ft long table...

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Forum topic by millssnell posted 06-04-2011 02:22 PM 9320 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View millssnell's profile


46 posts in 3011 days

06-04-2011 02:22 PM

Hello fellow LJ’s

I am building a table for a friend of me and my wife’s, and I am having trouble calculating an angle for the table legs.

The table is all pine, 14 ft long (I know, it’s crazy) 36 inches wide, and I want it to be 30 inches tall.

She does not want normal table legs, but the “X” style legs. I am going to do ths with 2×6’s and double the thickness. I am having trouble calculating the angle to cut the 2×6’s on my miter saw. I have thought about using Pythagorean theory to find the length of my hypotenuse, and then sin, cosine and tangent to get the angle. I am just having a little trouble.

Thanks for any help.

17 replies so far

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3338 days

#1 posted 06-04-2011 02:32 PM

The easiest 21st century way of doing this is to create the table in sketch up. When you draw the angled line from point to point, inquire and get the angle on that line.

I gave up on geometry and trig years ago when I learned AutoCad. Just create points, connect a line and get the info.
Presto! No math needed.

View stnich's profile


122 posts in 3164 days

#2 posted 06-04-2011 02:35 PM

I wouldn’t calculate the angle. Draw it out full size on a piece of card board and use an adjustable angle
square to copy the angle. Then transfer the angle from the square on to your piece of wood or scrap to test it.
You can then put the piece on you miter saw bed and rotate the saw to the correct angle. You could also just use the angle square right on the bed of your saw. Remember to keep your orientation on the legs in such a way that the cuts are parallel top and bottom

View Chipy's profile


374 posts in 2833 days

#3 posted 06-04-2011 03:02 PM

I agree with stnich ,you can actually see what the angle is going to look like by making card board templates.I know the math is niece to know but I am not that good with math so I always make full size mock -ups to scale with card board or large graph paper.90% of my projects are my own designs and I also use Scetchup but I have a lot to learn with that program.My cousin works in a hi end furniture shop and they use templates all the time!

View BobTheFish's profile


361 posts in 2792 days

#4 posted 06-04-2011 03:21 PM

GAH! I hate sketchup.

Here’s how I did it for a coffee table

So…. first question is how wide is the table? 40”?

And then how much of a ledge is there going to be from the edge of the table to the apron?

Then how big are your legs?

Let’s say you are building a table 14 feet by 42”, and you want a 4” overhang from the apron. widthwise and 6”overhang lengthwise.

That means brings you down to 38” by 156” (13 feet)

Now use pythagoras: 38×38 + 156×156 =c squared

Roughly 160”.

This isn’t including the amount of space your legs take up, nor is it accomodating for the angled cuts, but it’s a decent enough estimate. I then cut boards to that size and then did the final measuring and fitting as I worked.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3887 days

#5 posted 06-04-2011 03:34 PM

Make a little model. Cardboard put together with tape and hot glue is
fine. You can even use foam-core, available from art supply stores.

If you’re having to ask these sorts of questions about the geometry
of your designs, you’re better off making models than trying to do
this stuff mathematically.

When I got really into woodworking in my early 20s I bought an
old text on geometry and trig and taught myself a bunch of stuff that
never made any sense when I was in school. It was only the tangibility
of building things that made geometry make sense to me.

View Matthew's profile


97 posts in 2876 days

#6 posted 06-04-2011 03:52 PM

Can you show us a picture of what “x” style legs you want? I can think of a couple different way to do that

-- Matthew, Columbia - South Carolina ----- Jesus was a carpenter...

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2915 days

#7 posted 06-04-2011 10:07 PM

36 squared plus 30 squared. Now find the square root of that number. That will give you the length from the outside of the table to the far side on the floor. point to point on the leg. Find the sq root of the sums of the squares. If you have a problem with this then invest in a refrigerator box and a sharp pencil and start drawing.

View BobTheFish's profile


361 posts in 2792 days

#8 posted 06-04-2011 11:28 PM

oops. I was thinking it was a bracer. I really should read more carefully and not when so tired.

Grandpa is correct, but you don’t say how much space between the legs still. If it’s only 40 inches, his 36 is going to leave you with only two inches from the ledge on both sides. Which is adequate. I think if it’s 14 feet long, you might also want it slightly wider than the basic rule of thumb to make it more visually appealing. if you’re looking for a table top to be 30” high, don’t forget to subtract the height you’ll gain from the tabletop from your 30”.

Also, the length in his example is going to be about 47 inches.

View patron's profile


13641 posts in 3581 days

#9 posted 06-05-2011 12:12 AM

this is what i’m guessing you are talking about
this is a picnic table at home depot
fro $379

send me $300 and i’ll give you directions
to go measure the legs

saving you $79

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View BobTheFish's profile


361 posts in 2792 days

#10 posted 06-05-2011 03:06 AM

I sure as hell hope you’re wrong patron. I don’t like the legs without any sort of crossbrace or apron, and if he’s doing a 14ft long version of something like that, one good push and somewhere, some of the legs are going to snap or collapse.

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3106 days

#11 posted 06-05-2011 03:11 PM

I know there are a lot of people who like sketchup. It is something that I want to learn but it seems to have a pretty good learning curve. Maybe someday I’ll give it another try but time is always a problem. There’s nothing at all wrong with building models or just making a drawing and measuring the angles with a protactor or a combination square. However, for things like this I use a CAD program that is suprisingly affordable, powerful, and has an intuitive work space. It comes with a tutorial that will have you going in a couple of hours. It’s called TurboCad

At $129 I think that it is an affordable tool for many woodworkers.

We have a molding plant and have to make our templates for the knife grinder. We have a computerized router that cuts our templates from plastic. The DXF files that run this machine are generated with TurboCad. The accuracy of the drawings are well under 1000th of an inch. We have a machine shop in our plant and all of our engineering drawings are done with this program. It comes with all sorts of templates so that you can use it for architecture, electrical drawings, etc. I have laid out shop floors and offices with it. It’s great for chip carvers as well. I have used it to quickly lay out chip carving patterns and then transfer the patterns directly to the wood with my heat transfer tool. It will make all kinds of calculations for you. In short it is a bargain for $129 and I use it at the plant and at home every day. You don’t have to be a genius or computer geek to use it. It will save you time, money, and material because you can make some very nice drawings that are completely clear. You can take the drawings to staples and they can print them much larger if you need them.

I’ve always wanted to have AutoCad. The learning curve for AutoCad is very steep and it is very expensive. I have never found anything that I have needed to do that TurboCad couldn’t handle so why bother with AutoCad. At $129 TurboCad is an affordable tool.

I’m not affiliated in anyway with TurboCad and receive nothing for plugging it. I just use it in all kinds of ways and am glad that I have it.

For the current problem: if you know the thickness of the table top, the width you are going to make it, and the height the top surface is above the floor, and how far in from the edge of the top your legs were going to be, you could make a drawing for the top and the x-legs in under a couple of minutes and have all of the dimensions that you needed. It would take you under 30 minutes to learn to do this and much more. So if you have a computer in or near your workshop you can see how much time this program can save you.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

21973 posts in 3345 days

#12 posted 04-18-2012 07:00 PM

I always draw it out and then use Trig to figure it out, but you can make a scale drawing and just measure it with a protractor and cut them at that angle.
That picnic talbe show by Paton has a center brace coming dowon from the top to hold the x legs vertical.
If you are doing an X leg on the end like that and you start with the leg inset about 1” from each side and with the top 1.5” thick, you will have a leg height of 28.5 and width of 34”. If you have the inside of the leg be directly under the edge of the 34” dim. at the top and the rest of the width of the leg stick past it, it come to a 40 degre angle on the top and bottom of the legs.
figuring the Tangent : 28.5 / 34=.8382 The angle with that Tan is 39.97 degrees

Now if you want the bottom outer edge of the legs to be 34” then you have more calcuating using the width of the leg and I won’t get into that.
For a 14 ft long top, I’d consider doing aprons and a different leg configuation and maybe three legs over that span…......................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View ducky911's profile


237 posts in 3029 days

#13 posted 04-18-2012 08:37 PM

Graph paper…enough said

View a1Jim's profile


117417 posts in 3817 days

#14 posted 04-18-2012 08:44 PM

Just go for it with some scraps and it it looks good good it is good.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5149 posts in 4200 days

#15 posted 04-18-2012 08:49 PM

I’m going to take a couple aspirin. My head hurts after tryin’ to digest all the math.
There better be some center bracing. Sounds like a landing deck for aircraft. 14’? That’s a bunch. I’m sittin’ on one end. Please ship me the salad dressing. I’ll accept FedEx.
Sounds more like truss rods with turnbuckles are needed.


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