How to attach top?

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Forum topic by pashley posted 11-11-2012 01:01 AM 2068 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1044 posts in 3889 days

11-11-2012 01:01 AM

I’m making a nesting table set (3 tables), and the customer wants the style shown in the pic – which is a close copy of an actual selling set.

My question is, how to attach the table to the legs? Since there are no stretchers on either the top or bottom, joining the two sides, the force of the legs racking are much greater. I’ve turned the table upside down here in Sketchup for clarity. Help!

-- Have a blessed day!

16 replies so far

View Gary's profile


9372 posts in 3604 days

#1 posted 11-11-2012 01:16 AM

I’d probably use dowels from the top of the legs going into the bottom of the top

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2532 days

#2 posted 11-11-2012 01:27 AM

Inset angle brackets out of 1/8” welded steel.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View MNgary's profile


303 posts in 2588 days

#3 posted 11-11-2012 01:47 AM

Nesting tables only need to be open on the front. Maybe consider an apron and even a stretcher across the back.
Or, perhaps a 6” to 8” tall vertical slatted apron patterned after the sides. With each subsequent nested table, reduce height of the back apron so all three have parallel bottom-of-the-aprons on the same plane.

Just another suggestion/opinion is your pattern’s top doesn’t appear to be in scale to heft of the legs. Just my 2 cents.

Looks like a fun project!

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View ShaneA's profile


7043 posts in 2770 days

#4 posted 11-11-2012 01:49 AM

Maybe desktop or figure eights. Easy to use, should allow for movement and be sturdy enough for this application.

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 3889 days

#5 posted 11-11-2012 01:58 AM

Sadly, I tried a plan with a back set of spindles and stretchers and it was nixed. Remember too, that I have to allow for the table top expansion….

-- Have a blessed day!

View waho6o9's profile


8477 posts in 2748 days

#6 posted 11-11-2012 02:17 AM

Maybe something like this.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5783 posts in 2984 days

#7 posted 11-11-2012 02:53 AM

I would use two dowels to connect the apron to the top. Place these towards the center of the apron. If they are placed within 6-8” of center, expansion will be negligable. For added strength use figure 8 fasteners to connect the legs to the top.
I don’t think wooden buttons would offer enough strength in this application.

Good luck

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

View oluf's profile


260 posts in 3210 days

#8 posted 11-11-2012 03:22 AM

Bore and counter bore holes up through the aprons just outside the spindles. Drive lag bolts with machine threads on the other end into the bottem of the top lined up with the holes in the aprons. Attach the legs with nuts and washers down in the counter bore. Dont make the holes too tight so that you can have some movement. You could also drive thread nuts into the table top and use machine boles rarher than lag bolts.

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

View AandCstyle's profile


3170 posts in 2428 days

#9 posted 11-11-2012 04:16 PM

I agree that figure eights should be adequate for these tables.

JMO, aesthetically, I prefer to see an odd number of spindles/slats on the sides. FWIW

-- Art

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14178 posts in 4154 days

#10 posted 11-11-2012 04:49 PM

use a biscuit joiner and clamp.. easy

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3462 days

#11 posted 11-11-2012 05:33 PM


Honestly? Tell the customer it won’t work. There may be a factory-made set for sale somewhere, but it doesn’t get a free pass from the laws of physics any more than yours would, and it won’t be very long before it falls apart.

What you’ve got there is structurally unstable, IN THEORY. The only thing that makes it stable (and marginally at that) in the real world is the width of the leg perpendicular to the leg/spindle assembly. The ends of the legs bear on the underside of the top out at their edges when resisting racking. One way to improve this strength, therefore, is to make the legs as big as practicable in that dimension.

The real solution is to find a more reliable way to transmit bending force through the legs into the top directly, since you don’t have aprons to take these forces. I just had this thought; take it for what it’s worth. Call it, I don’t know, “T tenons”. Cut 2 mortises into the end of each leg, perpendicular to the leg/spindle assembly. Cut mating mortises into the top, but instead of making them the same length, make them long – well beyond the faces of the legs (you’ll be able to see them). Make loose tenons out of plywood (for its strength in all directions) shaped like wide, stubby Ts. This ought to give you better “grip” between table and legs. Don’t use solid wood; whichever way you orient the grain, it will have a weak direction. Making the top thicker will help, too, since you can go deeper with the mortise. Here’s a sketch.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3140 days

#12 posted 11-11-2012 07:42 PM

If you veneered the tops over a man made board, you could just glue/screw the leg assembly on as there’s no movement to worry about.


leave a gap at the back end of the mortice for the back edge to contract onto.

View Woodknack's profile


12398 posts in 2551 days

#13 posted 11-11-2012 07:58 PM

Through wedged tenons are your only hope for a wood joint. The commercial version is probably attached with draw bolts. And I would make the top a little thicker because it’s going to be resisting racking force against the legs.

-- Rick M,

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 3889 days

#14 posted 11-11-2012 11:18 PM

Oluf, I’m thinking your solution might be the most appropriate. The critical thing is to attach that table top to those legs, or should I say skirting. A slightly slotted hole through the skirt, counterbored, using a very thick wood screw. My table top is 1”, and I’m hoping that will be enough “meat” for the screw to grab onto. I think I will also glue the skirt to the top, in the middle, and then put two, perhaps four, slotted screw assemblies on either side of that glue joint. Other than that, not sure what else to do! The tables are just for snacks, and occasional, use, not like people are going to be laying on them…..

-- Have a blessed day!

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2225 days

#15 posted 11-12-2012 12:09 AM

“not like people are going to be laying on them…..”
If i visit the owners house i might ^ ;)

-- Joel

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