Joining tabletop to modern legs

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Forum topic by dbargaehr posted 11-06-2014 11:12 PM 1149 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View dbargaehr's profile


2 posts in 1294 days

11-06-2014 11:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: joining modern

Ahoy there, first-time poster and amateur in every sense of the word.

Working on a modern-type table for Thanksgiving for our small house, and trying to get it finished by then since we need to seat quite a few people. The table top is essentially finished (got some 3/4 poplar on the cheap, tried for a better wood but couldn’t find any within our budget, so I just biscuited it together), and I’m trying to work out how to attach the legs. The tabletop is very large – 54” wide by 96” long!

Legs are dimensional 4×4, I tried to find cedar but couldn’t get any on the cheap in SoCal, so I’m running redwood. Got the joints worked out (lag bolts from top/bottom) for the 4 corners, decent-sized glued dowels for the crossbeams (running longways) so they look clean from the outside. I thought about Kreg pocket holes for those crossbeams, but decided against it.

My dilemma is attaching the table legs to the top in a secure manner. The tabletop is only 3/4, and I’d like to avoid going in from the top if possible to keep the top as clean as possible (no screw tops or plugs to cover them on the top of the table).

I was thinking going from the bottom with some 3 3/4 screws (countersunk about 1/8”, perhaps) but I’m worried it won’t hold well to the tabletop with about 1/2” of screw in the tabletop. I also thought about Kreg pocket holes running on the inside of each table support, but have the same dilemma (as well as not being fond of the look of pocket holes. I know they would be almost unseen from most angles, but I’d prefer not to have them at all).

Any ideas to attach these legs to the tabletop cleanly? I’m open to suggestion. Tools include router, table saw, radial arm saw, jig saw…I’m not incredibly well-stocked, but I’ve done ok with what I’ve got.

As far as modifying the design, I’m semi-open to that as well. There is some mild cupping on the finished tabletop, mostly from the boards having a bit of cupping already, as well as the sheer weight of the table. Given the weight of it, the 4×4 seemed prudent, and using the lengthwise crossbeam as well as the full-length supports seemed like a good way to straighten out the top enough when it’s all assembled.


3 replies so far

View jmartel's profile


7885 posts in 2147 days

#1 posted 11-06-2014 11:35 PM

Pick something that will allow for wood movement. I like the figure 8 fasteners.

As far as only having 1/2” of screw in, that will be fine. You won’t be lifting the table by the top. It just needs to prevent the top from moving.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View dbargaehr's profile


2 posts in 1294 days

#2 posted 11-06-2014 11:47 PM

Hi jmartel,

Thanks for the advice. As far as wood movement, there won’t be much – one nice thing about living in Southern California is we rarely have any serious humidity problems that would cause significant wood movement.

Never seen those figure-8 fasteners before, those are intriguing! I like the notion. Seems like a bit of extra work to get them going, but couldn’t be worse than having to pre-drill all those deep holes for the 3 3/4 screws.

View bondogaposis's profile


4727 posts in 2348 days

#3 posted 11-07-2014 12:43 AM

Don’t discount wood movement, something that wide will move significantly, no matter your climate. I suggest buttons or table top fasteners, like these. Just cut slots in the cross bars and put the screws in from the underside.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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