Attaching table legs to aprons.

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Forum topic by lateralus819 posted 04-24-2013 01:13 AM 1422 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1797 posts in 738 days

04-24-2013 01:13 AM

I know the popular joint is mortise and tenon. My question is for this project and future, how to determine the length of a tenon and width?

My legs are 3”x3”. The aprons are 3/4”x 3.5” wide.

How far should the tenon go into the mortise? How wide should the tenon be? Can it be full width? cutting a mortise from the top of the leg down 3.5” ?


-- Never confuse mistakes with failure. Kevin

6 replies so far

View ChuckV's profile


2547 posts in 2376 days

#1 posted 04-24-2013 01:47 AM

I would make the tenons about 1/3 the thickness of the aprons, so 1/4”. I would make them 3” wide and centered on the 3.5” aprons.

The legs are pretty hefty at 3” X 3”. Not knowing what kind of weight we are talking about, I would guess that putting the tenons into 3/4” or 1” deep mortises should be fine. You certainly have enough room in the legs to go deeper if you feel that it is needed.

This is just my take on it. I hope that you get some additional ideas from others.

-- “While the world with closed eyes sleeps, The sky knows and weeps - steel rain. ” ― Nathan Bell

View lateralus819's profile


1797 posts in 738 days

#2 posted 04-24-2013 01:51 AM

Thank you chuck, The top is 8/4 sapele. So i didn’t want to go to “wimpy” on the legs, both strength and aesthetics. Not to mention, they will have a taper, so that will help as well i think.

-- Never confuse mistakes with failure. Kevin

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2199 posts in 2007 days

#3 posted 04-24-2013 01:52 AM

Sliding dovetails. That is all.

-- jay,

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

4978 posts in 1229 days

#4 posted 04-24-2013 02:18 AM

Depthwise I go at least halfway, sometimes 2/3, so on a 3” leg I’d be between 1.5”-2” long tenons. Often I will cut the mortises until they intersect and then angle the ends of the tenons. I was taught to make the tenon half the thickness of the stock but apparently most people do 1/3. I have no rule of thumb for width but generally leave 1/2”+ on each shoulder. So my tenons would be roughly 2×2.5×3/8.


View bandit571's profile


8190 posts in 1532 days

#5 posted 04-24-2013 03:48 AM

One other item can be used, along with the tenons.

Tenons used here are 1/3 the depth of the leg=1/2”. The corner blocks reinforce the corner, and add a way to attach the top.

Some old Mersman legs I salvaged had no tenons in use

as they used a bolt into the inside corner of the leg, a metal plate that was secured with a nut to the leg. Ends of the plates had a lip. It went into slots in the aprons, and also had two screws per apron to hold the joint shut. Worked as long as everything was tightened down….

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View runswithscissors's profile


1439 posts in 874 days

#6 posted 04-24-2013 04:20 AM

Rockler, I believe, has those corner plates. I have made my own by cutting, bending, and welding 1 1/2” channel steel. Since I didn’t put lips on them to go into slots in the apron, I simply fastened the ends with screws into the apron. You use a hanger bolt (lag screw thread on one end, machine screw thread on the other), and tighten them down with a nut. Be careful, though, as a nut being tightened has a lot of force, and you can pull the hanger bolt right out of the leg.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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