Need advice on best way to secure legs on kitchen table

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Forum topic by brantley posted 10-02-2012 12:12 AM 40856 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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185 posts in 3280 days

10-02-2012 12:12 AM

Topic tags/keywords: questiontable

Im an amateur at best woodworker. Ive only made adirondack chairs but my wife has asked me to make her a dining room table. I have some really nice 1 5/8” white oak lumber. I have the table top together. Its roughlyroughly 28 square feet. I was looking at the table legs at lowes and home depot and noticed some had a threaded bolt out of the top and some have a pre drilled hole. I kinda like the idea of the table legs having a threaded bolt coming out the top. It seems that would be secure along with added support but ultimately I wanted to get advice on here for the strongest way to fasten the legs since this is a very heavy top. Thanks

34 replies so far

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2295 days

#1 posted 10-02-2012 01:36 AM


Normally the legs would fasten to the apron – or – the apron would be attached by mortise and tenons to the legs.

The Table Top would then be fastened to the apron with special fasteners which allow for the seasonal movement of the wooden table top.

Wrok Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View CueballRosendaul's profile


484 posts in 2163 days

#2 posted 10-02-2012 03:23 AM

I second Len, you’ll want some kind of skirt board around the bottom of the table top. They make simple figure 8 fasteners, or you could use pocket screws (good excuse to buy a Kreg jig) since the top is pretty thick. The skirt board not only gives you a fastening surface for the legs, but also makes them more stable and strong. Imagine pushing the table across the floor and how much stress you’d be putting on the legs and fasteners. Crawl under a couple tables and you’ll get a better sense for it.

A simple system for attaching the legs to the apron is with a metal bracket. Check out this page:

-- Matt CueBall Rosendaul. I don't think I've ever had a cup of coffee that didn't have cat hair or sawdust in it.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5702 posts in 2836 days

#3 posted 10-02-2012 03:28 AM

For simple tables, I like aprons that attach to the legs directly with dowels, mortise and tenons, or pocket hole screws. For additional support you can install a corner brace with lag bolt into the leg. The corner brace can be pre-fab metal, or made from wood. The brace and lag bolt are invisible from the top of table.

Best of luck

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

View Jacob's profile


85 posts in 2665 days

#4 posted 10-02-2012 04:00 AM

you have interesting dimensions for the table brantley, 28 square feet leaves alot for the imagination, 2’ x 14’ could be an interesting table. but perhaps u mean 4’ x 7’.

I agree with the above posts calling for an apron or skirt.

A single bolt coming from the top of the leg would seem to be appropriate to attack a stick to a flate surface but ignores a few key elements. One such would be “racking”, your massive (white oak @ 1 5/8 is pretty heavy) is going to sway with the wind if you just bolt 4 legs straight into it. Would the “added support” you speak of in your post would be hinting at aprons?

Aprons function to keep your surface flat over time and also to keep your legs together and prevent the racking ( a good wide apron could potentially negate the need for stretchers closer to the bottom of the legs, but keep in mind a dining room table gets a lot of use)

As has been mentioned above, you must be aware of fastening these components to the table surface and you should be aware of the woods movement over time across its grain, (i.e don’t accidentally lock the wood in by putting two or more screws on a short end of the table through your apron)

Other options for dining room table are trestle style tables, very sturdy indeed for dining tables.

Pictures would certainly help!

-- -Jacob Turetsky, Industrial Designer

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185 posts in 3280 days

#5 posted 10-02-2012 11:38 AM

Jacob you are correct . The table is 4×7. Yea I do plan on having an apron just not real sure on the layout of it as im not real satisfied with the stability of the table top now…so I want to do something underneath that will make this solid. I do have a kreg mini pocket hole jig but it didnt do much other than join the boards together. (for the top)

View WDHLT15's profile


1747 posts in 2499 days

#6 posted 10-02-2012 11:59 AM

Mortise and tenon the leg to the apron, then peg using glue with a through-dowel. Then on the inside, attach 45 degree corner blocks using the pocket screws to attach the corner blocks to the aprons.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View bondogaposis's profile


4757 posts in 2374 days

#7 posted 10-02-2012 12:14 PM

Another option to the above good advice would be to make this a trestle table. Something like this one.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View brantley's profile


185 posts in 3280 days

#8 posted 10-02-2012 12:23 PM

Thanks for the tips everyone. I have looked at the trestle style tables and im wanting to go a different route. I like the more traditional tables with 4 legs on the corners.

View markone's profile


1 post in 2086 days

#9 posted 10-02-2012 01:57 PM

How thick is your top? Thicker tops generally look nice with thicker legs. 3/4” top? Maybe 2 3/4” legs would look balanced. 1” top? Maybe 3 1/2” legs. 1 1/4” top? Maybe 4 or 4 1/2” legs. You have a large, weighty top. It will definitely need aprons. As mentioned above, mortise and tenon joinery is best and plenty strong enough.

Here is a page of table base designs that I’ve used before as a jumping off point projects. Good luck with yours.

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2698 days

#10 posted 10-02-2012 02:01 PM

Use hange screws to attach the legs to the apron. This way you can remove the legs for miging the table. As you have already noticed a piece of white oak that is 28 sq ft by 1 5/8 thick is heavy. Add legs and the weight comes pretty wuickly up to more than one or 2 people can manage. Most of the other methods make the legs permenant.

View brantley's profile


185 posts in 3280 days

#11 posted 10-02-2012 03:43 PM

Guys, what kind of wood should i use for the aprons? would 2×4 be ok? I want to say our table now has 1×6 and i can barely get my legs under it. ( im 6’ 3” )

View Mosquito's profile (online now)


9350 posts in 2315 days

#12 posted 10-02-2012 03:56 PM

2×4 would be more than ok. On my coffee table, end table, and a sewing table I’m working on now, I used 1×4 for the coffee table and sewing table, and 1×3 for the end table.

I used mortise and tenon with pocket hole screws for the coffee table (the M&T joints turned out loose, so I screwed them together) and I just screwed the legs into the apron from the inside on my end table.

For the sewing table, I did sliding M&T joints for the legs and apron, and then table leg brackets on the inside, which many have suggested. I wanted to make it easy to move, so the legs slide onto the the tenons, and then a bolt goes through the corner bracket, and into a threaded insert in the legs. I wish I had a picture of it as described, but the best I have for now is this for the sliding M&T joints between legs and apron.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View REL's profile


76 posts in 3680 days

#13 posted 10-02-2012 05:57 PM

Brantley, you remind me of myself when I started. I’m still a somewhat “newer” woodworker with a lot of expensive equipment. However, I have built a lot of tables during the past 5-6 years.

1-The guys are right recommending Classic Designs by Matthew Burak. His catalog has a bunch of table leg designs to view and/or buy. I have purchased a couple of sets for my first two ventures. (They came out beautiful.)

2- Go with the metal brackets and side mounted screws/bolts; easy to remove. This will allow you to move the table more easily from room to room. The size is 4×7. That’s big table. You can use a biscuit cutter/maker to help align the legs with the apron.

3-The apron should be proportioned to the structure. Your size table, would require at least 4” wide. One inch thick should be enough. If you hit your knees, make the legs longer. However, keep in mind the height of the chairs and other family members.

4-I like pocket holes to attach the top. Do allow for wood movement. I also like the metal brackets fitted in an apron grove (Rockler).

Good luck and have fun. Finishing is the real work!

-- REL, North Jersey

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185 posts in 3280 days

#14 posted 10-09-2012 04:43 PM

Just an update. I have the legs and part of the apron assembled. Its coming along nicely. I have a few more pieces of the apron to put on and some corner braces.

Is there anything i could put under the table legs if the table is not completely level? Ive seen them before but not sure where ic an get them. You can screw them out to raise or lower the piece.

Does anybody know a good way to install these hangar bolts? i had a time installing them them on the table legs. I am going to try and put them on the corner braces. Never used them before and not sure the best way to drive them into the wood with nothing to secure the drill too?

View REL's profile


76 posts in 3680 days

#15 posted 10-09-2012 05:43 PM

Brantley, Rockler has leg adjustable inserts. I’ve seen adequate ones at Home Depot. They should be available at your local hardware store.

Just noticed your comment on the hanger bolts. You need to drill holes into the legs. Drill on the “right angle” corner of each leg at the correct height for the metal or wood bracket hole. You can buy a corner support for the leg at Harbor Freight (about $5.00), or make one from pieces of wood to hold angle correctly for drilling. Drill press is helpful, but not necessary.

Let’s see some pictures.

-- REL, North Jersey

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