Reccommendations for attaching table top to frame please?

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Forum topic by CypressAndPine posted 07-17-2014 03:06 AM 22188 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View CypressAndPine's profile


62 posts in 2011 days

07-17-2014 03:06 AM

I am about to build a simple shaker style hall table with cypress. I will use mortise and tenons on the legs and aprons. I’m not going to put a drawer on it. My question is this:

How should I attach the top to the frame? I don’t want to use any screws. I understand that I have to allow for movement as I will be using solid wood for the top.

Any recommendations will be greatly appreciated.


-- Cypress Jake, New Orleans

13 replies so far

View OldWrangler's profile


731 posts in 1798 days

#1 posted 07-17-2014 03:18 AM

I’d take my Kreg pocket drill guide and screw it down from the inside of the rail. 3 1 1/2” Kreg screws will be enough to hold it very firm and avoid using any glue. Just finished 2 tables that way.

Now that’s just my opinion but everyone is entitled to use it.

-- I am going to go stand outside so if anyone asks about me, tell them I'M OUTSTANDING!

View bigblockyeti's profile


5286 posts in 1924 days

#2 posted 07-17-2014 03:27 AM

You could cut a slot around the interior perimeter of the apron and use cleats screwed into the bottom of the table top. That would allow the top to expand and contract without risking damage to either the apron or the top.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View JADobson's profile


1288 posts in 2314 days

#3 posted 07-17-2014 04:15 AM

I like these:,41306,41309&ap=1

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

View TheFridge's profile


10751 posts in 1689 days

#4 posted 07-17-2014 04:17 AM

Or figure eights

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Lifesaver2000's profile


556 posts in 3316 days

#5 posted 07-17-2014 05:13 AM

Jacob, as you can see most everyone thinks “screws” when attaching a table top. However, since you have said you don’t want to use any screws, I will give a couple of alternate ideas.

First idea is to make the apron boards that will be across the grain of the top protrude above the legs by about 1/4 inch. Cut corresponding dadoes in the bottom of the table top, but make them where they will be a bit longer than the apron board on each end. When you are ready to attach the top, be sure to only glue the middle three inches. This will give you plenty of strength to keep the table secure, while still allowing the top to expand or contract. The “empty” part of the dado should be hidden by the table legs.

A second alternative is to use dowels that extend up from the end aprons. Use three, one in the middle and one at each end. Glue all three into the apron. Make the center hold in the bottom of the table top round, but elongate the others across the grain. When attaching the top, glue only the center dowel. These dowels should extend about 2/3 of the thickness of your top. This method isn’t as strong as the dado method, but might be ok for a small, low-use table.

Both of these methods have the drawback that they do not help keep the table top flat. So, if you can see any tendency of the top to bow, put the center of the bow up. When you clamp the center glued area, you can draw the bow out, then once the glue is set this will naturally put a downward pressure on the outer edges.

View jinkyjock's profile


488 posts in 1778 days

#6 posted 07-17-2014 10:22 AM

sounds like you want to go traditional fixing as it’s a Shaker table.
Turn-buttons would be an option.

Top pic you can just see groove cut in rail with
biscuit-jointer, or grooving router bit.
Buttons cut grain running longitudinally for strength.
Plenty of “waggle” room in screw holes in buttons.
Cheers, Jinky (James).

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5128 posts in 4164 days

#7 posted 07-17-2014 02:35 PM

I use the “Z” clip as shown in the Dobson pic above. Quick, stupid cheap, and they work very well.


View waho6o9's profile


8525 posts in 2780 days

#8 posted 07-17-2014 03:09 PM

Great advice above and here’s mine on a table top.

View CypressAndPine's profile


62 posts in 2011 days

#9 posted 07-17-2014 04:40 PM

Thanks for all the great ideas. That’s why this site is the best.

@Lifesaver200, I was thinking about the dowels like you mentioned, but I never thought about how it will not prevent the top from bowing. Thanks for the knowledge.

@JADobson, I think I will probably go with those clips from Lee Valley. I guess a few inconspicuous screws won’t kill me. Plus they will help keep the top flat.

Thanks again everyone.


-- Cypress Jake, New Orleans

View pintodeluxe's profile


5798 posts in 3017 days

#10 posted 07-17-2014 05:50 PM

I have gotten away from the z clips entirely. Figure 8 fasteners offer a better attachment, are just as easy to install, and also allow for wood movement. They have an advantage over wood buttons because they take up almost no space.
I realize your table doesn’t have drawers, but in applications with drawers, the buttons can be an obstruction for the drawer. Figure 8 fasteners are never in the way.

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

View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 1628 days

#11 posted 07-17-2014 06:08 PM

I second the figure 8’s!

-- Brad, Texas,

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6305 posts in 3398 days

#12 posted 07-17-2014 07:37 PM

I’ve used figure 8’s for years…All the tabletops I make for myself and customers get figure 8’s…..This is a Shaker style table w/ a drawer that I built for our home….I used the 8’s to secure the top to the frame…3/4” Forstner bit drilled shallow enough the set the 8’s into, and just below the surface of the rails….Adjust tabletop for overhang all the way around evenly, turn upside down, and attach the top…..Easy peasey——nice and easy….

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....!!

View HarleySoftailDeuce's profile


320 posts in 3623 days

#13 posted 05-02-2017 06:44 PM

Nice table Rick !
I’ve built over a dozen Hepplewhite 18X18” top cherry tables with the tapered legs. Now after seeing your long table, I know my next project…and also a Adirondack chairs…not sure what wood I’ll use; red cedar looks like my best bet.


-- Paul, Bristol,Rhode Island

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