Skinney Leg Chair Joinery what options?

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Blog entry by Jim posted 11-10-2013 05:08 PM 2930 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am making some bar stools for the eating bar at our kitchen island. I have a dilemma about joinery. At the top of the leg where it joins the cross piece (in a table it’s called the apron … not sure if thats what it’s called in a chair) the leg is 1.5” square. If I connect the apron with mortise and tendon joints they intersect.

Here are the options I’ve considered:

1. Shallow tenons (3/4”) but I doubt these would be strong enough.

2. Sliding dovetails but these too will intersect. I can make them just slightly less deep and keep them clear of each other. Is this a viable joint for a chair leg to rail.

3. I was considering dowels but I don’t have a dowel jig and have never worked with dowels before and I’m not sure if this would be strong enough.

4. I see a lot of stool plans that use pocket screws but I would prefer wood to wood joinery rather than mechanical fasteners and I don’t know that pocket screws would be strong enough.

Please keep in mind I’m looking at a reasonably simple solution for a beginner to intermediate woodworker. I would greatly appreciate any advice you care to offer.


-- Jim in Langley BC Canada ---

4 comments so far

View sras's profile


5191 posts in 3634 days

#1 posted 11-10-2013 07:13 PM

When I made my stools I chose to cut a miter on the end of each tenon. In my case, that gave what looked like enough glue area.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3991 days

#2 posted 11-11-2013 01:12 AM

It sounds like you are making bar stools with four square straight legs, no splay. Basically a tall skinny table, right? I grabbed the photo below fromf Google images (woodworking talk forum). You could probably get by with a shallow mortise if you support with corner blocks. I may not understand the problem so please disregard if I’m off base.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5981 posts in 3318 days

#3 posted 11-11-2013 01:22 AM

Check out the Dec. 2013 issue of Fine Woodworking magazine. Issue # 236 has a nice article on that subject.

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

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4153 days

#4 posted 11-20-2013 03:00 AM

Overlapping or mitered tenons. Mortise close to the outside
of the leg to increase tenon surface area. Wider
horizontals offer a wider tenon shoulder, which helps
fight racking. Adding a diagonal block inside, fixed
with pocket screws, is recommended and very common
on chairs at a wide range of prices.

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