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View Lenga's profile

Leg / apron joinery for heavy table top

by Lenga
posted 03-09-2018 02:56 PM


29 replies so far

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1131 days


#1 posted 03-09-2018 03:18 PM

I would suggest learning how to make mortise and tenon joints. They’re not that hard!

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5225 posts in 4444 days


#2 posted 03-09-2018 03:31 PM

You’re gonna build a “wiggly” table.
Bill

-- [email protected]

View BoardButcherer's profile

BoardButcherer

144 posts in 578 days


#3 posted 03-09-2018 03:37 PM

A patient man can build Mortise and Tenon joints using a circular saw and a sharpened screwdriver.

It’s a big piece of furniture, take your time and do it right.

View LesB's profile

LesB

2175 posts in 3927 days


#4 posted 03-09-2018 05:15 PM

I join the chorus about mortise and tenons. You can cut tenons with a hand saw and the mortise you can chisel out by hand. Or you could start you wood working tool collection with a router to cut the mortises (using a template guide). The tenons can also be cut with a router but a saw is easier. Just be sure to cut your mortise first then fit the tenon to it. There are many how to videos on the internet on cutting these joints by hand and with tools like a router.
Actually the 1×4 apron could be the size of your tenon so just cut a mortise in the leg to accept the whole thing, although I would trim back the width of the apron by 1/2” the length of the tenon so the joint won’t be visible.
See attached drawing of one leg not to scale. I would also put cross pinned dowels to hold the tenon in the mortise Not drawn in here.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12894 posts in 2864 days


#5 posted 03-09-2018 06:00 PM

Lenga , your plan is fine. Go for it.
edit; one caveat—You’ll need heavy screws and I would consider beefing up the apron ends so they are double thickness for the last 4-5 inches. The corner bracket assembly will make whole much stronger.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Lenga's profile

Lenga

3 posts in 562 days


#6 posted 03-09-2018 07:14 PM

Thanks a lot, all.

I’m also considering creating the table in the image here (Sorry – not bright enough to figure out how to embed a photo):

https://www.chairish.com/product/686436/restoration-hardware-17th-c-monastery-table

Difference being it will have braces connecting the legs width-wise at the bottom (near the floor) and a center beam connecting those braces at the center length-wise. (Yeah… all attached with pocket screws).

I’m assuming the added bracing at the bottom boosts the stability of the table considerably. Does that change anyone’s opinion?

Thanks again, gentlemen.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10859 posts in 1970 days


#7 posted 03-09-2018 07:18 PM

We are not gentle.

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

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

5522 posts in 2835 days


#8 posted 03-09-2018 08:12 PM

What are your thoughts / suggestions about this? Stable enough?

Initially it will be, but eventually a wobble will develop. Table legs take a lot of abuse and also exert a tremendous amount of leverage on the joinery. If you are going to spend some money on nice materials, why put it together with shoddy methods? Make it last, mortise and tenon joints are your friend, they are not that hard.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View LesB's profile

LesB

2175 posts in 3927 days


#9 posted 03-10-2018 01:18 AM

Another thought. Based on the picture I would add a top plate (brown in image below) about 1” thick by 6” wide that spans across to top of two legs on each end. Fasten this top plate to the top of the leg with 2 1/2” screws. T (hen screw the plate to the bottom of the table between the two legs. That along with the other bracing in the picture should do the job. Sorry I didn’t take the time to make fancy legs.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Lenga's profile

Lenga

3 posts in 562 days


#10 posted 03-10-2018 01:28 AM



I join the chorus about mortise and tenons. You can cut tenons with a hand saw and the mortise you can chisel out by hand. Or you could start you wood working tool collection with a router to cut the mortises (using a template guide). The tenons can also be cut with a router but a saw is easier. Just be sure to cut your mortise first then fit the tenon to it. There are many how to videos on the internet on cutting these joints by hand and with tools like a router.

I hadn’t considered this kind of M&T, reason being I’ve never seen one. I like it. Looks doable. I’m considering the following set up:

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt-Fixed-Corded-Router-with-Table-Included/1000318615

Thoughts?

View LesB's profile

LesB

2175 posts in 3927 days


#11 posted 03-10-2018 11:47 PM

I can’t speak to the quality of that router, never heard of the brand, probably Asian knock off. I think that small table may be close to useless over time (too small).

Going back to the website you gave for the table. I put in below with numberd points. #1 That is most likely a 2”+ thick board that goes all the way across the bottom of the table as I illustrated above. However it may just be a square block screwed to the bottom of the table with a mortise for the turned piece under it.. #2 Is obviously a lathe turned piece that most likely has a large round tenon on each end. The top end tenon goes into a mortise cut in #1.
The bottom tenon goes into a mortise the the big square block #3 (foot). #4 points to where those stretchers are most likely fitted into mortise and tenon joints to connect everything.

Looks strong and stable to me.

-- Les B, Oregon

View BoardButcherer's profile

BoardButcherer

144 posts in 578 days


#12 posted 03-13-2018 07:18 PM


I join the chorus about mortise and tenons. You can cut tenons with a hand saw and the mortise you can chisel out by hand. Or you could start you wood working tool collection with a router to cut the mortises (using a template guide). The tenons can also be cut with a router but a saw is easier. Just be sure to cut your mortise first then fit the tenon to it. There are many how to videos on the internet on cutting these joints by hand and with tools like a router.

I hadn t considered this kind of M&T, reason being I ve never seen one. I like it. Looks doable. I m considering the following set up:

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt-Fixed-Corded-Router-with-Table-Included/1000318615

Thoughts?

- Lenga

Stay away from anything you find in the BORG stores, for one.

Secondly, and speaking from firsthand experience, those molded plastic tables are rarely ever level out of the box, and if they are, they won’t be for long. You’re better off buying a router, a top, and building your own.

Will you do it for $170? No. It’ll probably cost you 3 times as much when you’re done, but it’ll be done right and you won’t be buying that tool 3 times.

Remember the synonym to the phrase “Too good to be true” is “Too cheap to be good.”

View jdh122's profile

jdh122

1094 posts in 3301 days


#13 posted 03-13-2018 07:40 PM

Don’t buy that small router table. You don’t need (or even want) a router table to make mortises, you want a handheld plunge router. Any one you can find will do the job – you can even make do with a fixed base router, though it will be a bit trickier. You can also use it to cut the tenons, although you might need to make an auxiliary base for it.
Then, if you find you really like woodworking, you should build yourself a router table (but even then, you probably won’t use it for mortises).

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View Rich's profile

Rich

4845 posts in 1073 days


#14 posted 03-13-2018 07:47 PM


You re better off buying a router, a top, and building your own.

- BoardButcherer

How would you suggest the OP build his own router table if he doesn’t have any woodworking tools?

-- There's no such thing as a careless electrician

View BoardButcherer's profile

BoardButcherer

144 posts in 578 days


#15 posted 03-14-2018 09:02 PM


You re better off buying a router, a top, and building your own.

- BoardButcherer

How would you suggest the OP build his own router table if he doesn t have any woodworking tools?

- Rich

He buys the router and uses it by hand in combination with his circular saw, just like other mortals.

We know he has a drill because he’s admitted to knowledge of the unholy terror of pocket holes. He’s got to at least have a circular saw. If not he has a hand saw. I don’t think the stock for this 5’2” x 3’7” ash table top just appeared on his doorstep ready to assemble.

Or maybe it did? I don’t know. You can find all kinds of crap on Etsy and Banggood nowadays…

View Rich's profile

Rich

4845 posts in 1073 days


#16 posted 03-14-2018 10:18 PM


He buys the router and uses it by hand in combination with his circular saw, just like other mortals. We know he has a drill because he s admitted to knowledge of the unholy terror of pocket holes. He s got to at least have a circular saw. If not he has a hand saw. I don t think the stock for this 5 2” x 3 7” ash table top just appeared on his doorstep ready to assemble.

Or maybe it did? I don t know. You can find all kinds of crap on Etsy and Banggood nowadays…

- BoardButcherer

The OP started this thread out with “I’m a DYI’er with above average skills but not in possession of woodworking tools.” But you’re sure he has a circular saw. OK.

-- There's no such thing as a careless electrician

View BoardButcherer's profile

BoardButcherer

144 posts in 578 days


#17 posted 03-15-2018 12:45 PM


The OP started this thread out with “I’m a DYI’er with above average skills but not in possession of woodworking tools.” But you re sure he has a circular saw. OK.

- Rich

Try to understand that when most people think woodworking, they think of all of the chisels, hand planes, shapers and edge sanders you see in serious woodworking shops, not a tool that you use on a construction site for lopping off 2×4’s.

The man has a circular saw. Anyone who has walked into Lowes more than twice has a circular saw, even if it’s a spare they borrowed from their uncle that needs a new blade and has a sticky guard.

View Rich's profile

Rich

4845 posts in 1073 days


#18 posted 03-15-2018 02:48 PM


The man has a circular saw. Anyone who has walked into Lowes more than twice has a circular saw, even if it s a spare they borrowed from their uncle that needs a new blade and has a sticky guard.

- BoardButcherer

Maybe you should buy one. Then you could post some actual projects. Show us how talented you really are.

-- There's no such thing as a careless electrician

View BoardButcherer's profile

BoardButcherer

144 posts in 578 days


#19 posted 03-15-2018 03:55 PM


Maybe you should buy one. Then you could post some actual projects. Show us how talented you really are.

- Rich

This is my project right now. Assuming someone doesn’t blow me out of the water on the bid.

Some of us are getting in a little early on the hobby and still have 30 years to go before we can retire and start playing in the shop full time. Excuse me for not spending my days uploading step by step shots of my progress planing down the top of a nightstand with my recently restored #4 to contribute to the community circle-jerk. Instead, I’m going to focus on getting my shop put together with what spare time I have.

That takes priority over heated discussions about which veneer would be the best choice for a post-deco alder coffee table right now in my world.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

16186 posts in 3102 days


#20 posted 03-15-2018 05:54 PM


Excuse me for not spending my days uploading step by step shots of my progress planing down the top of a nightstand with my recently restored #4 to contribute to the community circle-jerk.

- BoardButcherer

Wow, that’s some real class right there.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

3060 posts in 2509 days


#21 posted 03-15-2018 06:23 PM

The corner brace method is actually a pretty good way to attach legs to an apron (assuming that I understand what you mean by corner brace). I have made my own out of wood, and also by fabricating/welding out of steel. Rocklers, amongst others, sells ready made corner braces.

You have to be careful with the hanger bolts, however. Tightening down the nut is powerful enough to pull the hanger bolt right out. It’s best if you can use 2 hanger bolts per corner. I repaired a table that had started with mortise and tenon, then corner braces after the M&T had failed, then the hanger bolts pulled out. I finally welded a small piece of 3/4 X 3/4 angle iron (about 1/2” wide) to the end of a bolt, drilled all the way through the leg and corner brace, and inset the angle iron into to leg so it is flush, and wraps around the corner. That sucker ain’t going to pull out.

If this isn’t clear, I will take some photos.

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

View Rich's profile

Rich

4845 posts in 1073 days


#22 posted 03-15-2018 07:10 PM


Excuse me for not spending my days uploading step by step shots of my progress planing down the top of a nightstand with my recently restored #4 to contribute to the community circle-jerk.

- BoardButcherer

Translation: I’ve never built anything in my life, but I like to spout off like I’m an expert. I can assure you that many here on LJ would love to see that restored #4. Like Smitty, he’s a hand plane expert par excellence. I guarantee you he can tell you things about it you don’t know.

-- There's no such thing as a careless electrician

View BoardButcherer's profile

BoardButcherer

144 posts in 578 days


#23 posted 03-16-2018 03:15 PM


Translation: I ve never built anything in my life, but I like to spout off like I m an expert. I can assure you that many here on LJ would love to see that restored #4. Like Smitty, he s a hand plane expert par excellence. I guarantee you he can tell you things about it you don t know.

- Rich

I’m glad he can, that’s why I made an account.

I’ve never built anything in my life though? I don’t think I’ve done anything but build for my entire life, starting when I was 8 renovating a motel. Mostly metal fab, log cabins and houses, sheet metal and computers mixed with anything else that catches my interest. My current job being mostly paperwork is why I’m putting together a shop, because once it’s done I’m turning in my 2 week notice. I can’t stand sitting behind a desk.

I’ve done everything from erect metal buildings for the military to welding fully furnished aluminum boats from stock with metal. I’ve done stained glass, copper cupolas and PC’s in which the custom watercooling setup alone costs $2k. I build what I need to build to get it done or for my own personal satisfaction, not to preen over it on the internet.

I build anything I want as long as it involves using my hands and a little CnC here and there. Not a fan of 3d printing though. It’s just dull.

Give a retired engineer a hammer and a chisel and suddenly he’s the pioneer of all creative labor and woe unto anyone who claims to do it for a living…. It’s no wonder this board is packed with people over 50 with nothing better to do given the reception that anyone else gets.

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12894 posts in 2864 days


#24 posted 03-16-2018 05:19 PM

Furniture making is a learned skill. You don’t automagically inherent the knowledge because you remodeled a house. The maker movement has convinced too many people that reading a blog or watching a video is the same as experience and then march off with strong opinions and pretend to be experts. Your lifetime of making things taught you how to use your hands and operate tools, don’t mistake that for knowledge. Gluing together PVC pipe doesn’t make you a plumber and swinging a hammer doesn’t make you a carpenter, or a furniture maker.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Jeremymcon's profile

Jeremymcon

366 posts in 1163 days


#25 posted 03-16-2018 05:49 PM

I agree that mortise and tenon is the best way to go. And you could do an open top mortise to make that part easier to make. I don’t trust pocket screws for anything, really… But then again, they might be fine. Just plug the holes in case the screws need tightening. Plus you could use extra long screws since you have 5” of leg to screw into.

Mortise and tenon would definitely add to your build time. You could do mortises with a drill press and a chisel, tenons with a hand saw, table saw, or router. But it mighty save you repair time down the road.

Another option sort of in between the two extremes would be dowels. Best way to do those though, would be to buy a self centering doweling jig. They’re pretty cheap from harbor freight though. Dowels would give you lot more rigidity and a bit more strength than pocket screws, with just a bit of glue cleanup and drying time added to the build.

Good luck, whatever you decide!

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12894 posts in 2864 days


#26 posted 03-16-2018 05:58 PM

The real problem with this table is scale, 5” legs are way oversized and the aprons should be bigger. But really the legs should be scaled down or made from built up materials to reduce weight. As it is, mortise and tenons aren’t going to make much difference, you’ll still need a corner brace because of the huge legs.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View BoardButcherer's profile

BoardButcherer

144 posts in 578 days


#27 posted 03-16-2018 06:05 PM



Furniture making is a learned skill. You don t automagically inherent the knowledge because you remodeled a house. The maker movement has convinced too many people that reading a blog or watching a video is the same as experience and then march off with strong opinions and pretend to be experts. Your lifetime of making things taught you how to use your hands and operate tools, don t mistake that for knowledge. Gluing together PVC pipe doesn t make you a plumber and swinging a hammer doesn t make you a carpenter, or a furniture maker.

- Woodknack

I’m glad you understand.

View AAL's profile

AAL

80 posts in 1910 days


#28 posted 03-16-2018 06:19 PM

No other additional comment(s) beyond what has been stated above except just a thought to consider if seating people at the ends of the table that there is enough space between the end spreaders and the floor to allow people to place their feet if the table doesn’t overhang enough.

-- "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

View Jeremymcon's profile

Jeremymcon

366 posts in 1163 days


#29 posted 03-16-2018 06:20 PM

See this post from Mattias wandell where he compares pocket screws to dowels and mortise and tenon. Dowels are 1.5 times stronger than pocket screws, but he notes at the bottom of the article the pocket screw joints begin to open up before actually failing, unlike dowels. That’s going to result flex and wobble in your table.

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