How to build a round table apron?

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Forum topic by mcg1990 posted 05-20-2015 04:08 PM 4034 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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159 posts in 1322 days

05-20-2015 04:08 PM

I’ve been asked to build a round table of 60” diameter. It has a pedestal base and an apron that is flush with the edge of the table top. The table top is itself, at the moment, looks like it’ll be 4/4 Maple, with the skirt about 3”.

My question is – what is the best way to construct this apron?

My instinct is telling me that I’ll need to build an MDF form and bend and glue strips of 1/8” plywood around it, finishing it with a strip of Maple veneer.

Is this about right?

Thanks very much

8 replies so far

View jerryminer's profile


930 posts in 1471 days

#1 posted 05-20-2015 04:35 PM

First, yes, a bending form and a series of laminations—-although I would use solid wood, not plywood. If you want to use plywood, you might find it easier to use two layers of 3/8” “bending ply” rather than 1/8” ply, and veneer both inside and out.

Remember to allow for spring-back

Second, if the top is solid lumber (not veneered sheet goods)—then a flush apron might be problematic, as the top will change shape a bit with humidity changes, and the apron might cause problems, like splits in the top. Safer, IMHO, to overhang the apron an inch or so (so small variations don’t show) and let the top move somewhat independently of the apron.

If the whole thing is plywood, or veneered mdf or something, then never mind.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View HornedWoodwork's profile


222 posts in 1244 days

#2 posted 05-20-2015 04:49 PM

Your approach would work, yes. But that’s not an easy execution at all. Another way would be to glue up several 4 inch (or so) segments at a certain angle, then trace the arc and cut away the waste on the band saw. That would mean lots of joints, and a high potential disaster rate, but it can be done, and with some pretty basic gear. Jerry’s suggestion of bending ply would be a good thing to look into (you can make your own btw, all you need to do is kerf cut your ply of choice to about 1/16th from the face ply). I agree with stepping the apron back from flush as well, even if just a 1/4 inch or so to give you a shadow line to hide any issues.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

View mcg1990's profile


159 posts in 1322 days

#3 posted 05-20-2015 06:01 PM

I’m planning for the top to be solid lumber, so a small off-set is a good idea.

So far I’m liking the sound of using bending ply.

Should I expect spring back even with a complete formed circle? I can imagine considerable spring back on a semi-circular form, but I wouldn’t have thought to expect it on a complete circle.

This is what’s in my head so far.

The ply apron is light red, and the outer edge of the table top in dark red.

Supports (grey) bolt to the pedestal (black) and the apron can be secured to it using pocket holes from inside. The table top can then be fixed to the supports using table top fasteners (orange) to allow for movement.

Would you do something different?

View jerryminer's profile


930 posts in 1471 days

#4 posted 05-20-2015 06:13 PM

You’re right. Springback won’t be an issue with a full circle. I think you’re headed in the right direction.

I might add some table-top fasteners at the apron, between supports, and maybe something close to the center pedestal, but overall, I think you’ll be fine.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2720 days

#5 posted 05-20-2015 06:30 PM

Steam bent lamination and lots of clamps!

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1251 days

#6 posted 05-20-2015 07:46 PM

Bending and gluing strips works, you could also kerf cut the crap out of the back, (did that once for an island base) then back the cuts with a bent solid strip. Both methods have drawbacks, Instead of dry bending I’d suggest investing in a wall paper steamer and some PVC to make a steam tube.

-- I meant to do that!

View Daruc's profile


460 posts in 1162 days

#7 posted 05-20-2015 08:57 PM

I would just buy some Kerfcore since you are doing it for a client.
Just make the circle and double it up to lock it in like so, then veneer the outside.

-- -

View stumpbuster's profile


2 posts in 1460 days

#8 posted 05-20-2015 10:16 PM

My wife has a skirted round table that according to family lore was made by her great grandfather sometime before WW1. The backing for the round skirt looks like it was made from short pieces of solid scrap cutoff pieces. The short segments were glued together then cut into a circle. There was no attempt to finish the inside of the circle. The circle was used as a backing for an approximately 1/8 to 3/16 piece of red oak veneer. He used a scarf joint to join the ends together. The picture is of the bottom of the table .

-- I create opportunities for design change and modification, not mistakes.

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