Joints for a kitchen table

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Forum topic by Mike posted 06-13-2012 11:16 AM 2129 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Mike's profile


60 posts in 1630 days

06-13-2012 11:16 AM

Here’s one for the experts…lets talk kitchen table construction. I’ve built a few smaller tables and feel the itch to try building a new kitchen table, perhaps this coming winter. What I’m not sure of is, what sort of joint would you use for attaching the aprons to the legs? My gut says biscuits and or pocket hole screws are out since a kitchen table probably takes more abuse than any other piece of wood furniture. Holiday meals, parties, daily use. Just having a Thanksgiving turkey in the center, and a bunch of adults leaning on a table must really apply force to the joints. I’m thinking a simple farmers style table, 7 feet in length, tapered shaker style legs, I’m picturing the legs being 3 1/2” where the aprons will attach. Aprons as well as the table top would be 3/4” Cherry? Mortise/tenon? Floating mortise? Maybe a Domino tool (doubt I’d buy one though due to expense). Other joint methods I don’t even know about? I’m looking forward to what the experts here would do, and then trying to teach myself the method before trying a large table project.

9 replies so far

View Uncle_Salty's profile


183 posts in 2494 days

#1 posted 06-13-2012 11:40 AM

Sliding dovetail tenon. A few years back, I built a sofa table using sliding dovetail tenons. I was able to dry fit the skirts to the legs, move the table around, and even stand on the table without glue or clamps prior to the actual assembly!

The setup is somewhat time consuming, and I would build some practice joints to start, but man o man, it is a great way to fasten aprons to legs! Add a corner block to keep the frame from racking, and this joint cannot be beat!

The downside (besides the set-up)? You’ll never get the legs off if you need to move it! Glue = optional!

View Loren's profile


8159 posts in 3069 days

#2 posted 06-13-2012 11:49 AM

Well, bolt-on legs let you remove them for transport
and that’s why they are common even on high-end
dining tables.

Like Salty says though, hard to beat the sliding dovetail
for strength in this application.

View bondogaposis's profile


3969 posts in 1772 days

#3 posted 06-13-2012 01:34 PM

Nothing wrong w/ mortise and tenon for table construction, especially if they are drawbored.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Mike's profile


60 posts in 1630 days

#4 posted 06-13-2012 03:41 PM

That’s a really good point about bolt on legs. Ya never know when you’ll need to get it through a door way.

Would a Domino jointer produce strong enough joints? How strong are biscuits and glue?

Is there any place on the web where I could look at bolt on table construction? Sliding dovetail tenon looks very interesting as well (and I’d never heard of one before!). I suppose if you used the sliding dovetail and no glue you really could take it apart easy later. The only thing really holding it together would be the z clips holding the table top on. I wonder how I’d learn how to make those joints. All done on a router table I assume?

View CharlieM1958's profile


16229 posts in 3639 days

#5 posted 06-13-2012 03:54 PM

Folks always seem to be looking for the definitive way to skin a cat. But, like the saying goes, there’s more than one way.

I agree with your assessment that pocket screws or biscuits would not be the way to go, but all the other methods mentioned would be fine. IMO, if you are looking for the strongest of those, it would probably be the traditional mortise and tenon.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View HerbC's profile


1568 posts in 2280 days

#6 posted 06-14-2012 02:07 AM


I understand that the cat doesn’t really enjoy any of the methods…

Sorry, I couldn’t resist!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View CharlieM1958's profile


16229 posts in 3639 days

#7 posted 06-14-2012 03:08 AM

Herb, you are undoubtedly correct. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 1805 days

#8 posted 06-18-2012 02:54 AM

If you really want super strength and removability, I suppose you could engineer some tapered sliding dovetails for the skirt that the legs slide up into, which are then fastened to the table with bolts… I’ve never seen this done, probably because it’s overkill

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View Mike's profile


60 posts in 1630 days

#9 posted 06-18-2012 04:03 PM

Yeah, the more I think about it I’ll probably avoid the bolt on removable legs. I measured my existing kicthen table, and it’s 31” high so that should fit through any standard door frame. Plus, I aint planning on going anywhere! (hopefully). The more I read, I think the sliding dovetail would work great..looks very hard to make however. I see I could do the slot in the legs on a router table…short aprons also on a router table stood up end-wise. Not sure how I’d do the ends of a 7 foot apron. I need to find some videos to watch regarding joinery. Does a bench mount mortiser have anything over a drill press?

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