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I will make a L & JG Stickley Prairie Settle #220 like the one pictured. I think I have it pretty well figured out except for attaching the the top to the side and back panels. Notice that unlike a Morris chair, there are no through tenons holding the top securely in place.

Here are my current thoughts:
1. Use desk top fasteners. Ugh! But they could be hidden from view, except from below looking up.
2. Drill holes in the upper part of the corbels for screws and sink and plug the holes. Better or ugh?
3. Use floating tenons in the legs that would go 1/2-5/8" into the top which is 13/16" before sanding. Alignment could be could be difficult and I'm not sure how strong this would be. You know that someday movers will lift it by its top.
4. Apply a thin strip of glue to the tops of the rails and clamp the top in place. Maintaining alignment would be a challenge. Another question regarding the strength.
5. Use dowel pegs or biscuits to increase the glue surface. Also, solves the alignment issue, but accurate placement of the pegs or biscuits might be difficult. Still doesn't answer the strength question.
6. Glue a spline into the tops of the rails and route a corresponding groove in the top to accept the spline. This is my preference at the moment

Which of the above would you use or do you have another suggestion?

Thanks for the assistance.
 

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Recently I have got in tune with my biscuit machine and had good results with it, I tossed the fence which was always off. now I only use the base as a reference, it is limiting I know, but at at least it is accurate.
To answer your question - use biscuits.
 

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I think your number 6, using splines the full length, would be the strongest way without showing the attachment. I did that on a face frame before. Using screws and plugging it would be the easiest no-fail method, but it depends on whether you/your customer minds a few well-matched plugs. The one in the picture appears to be made with screws from below into the top with holes plugged on all the brackets/corbels or whatever you call them. That should work fine too.
 

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Beginning with easiest:
1) Screw through the corbels then plug the holes. Only another woodworker would ever get down and look.
2) Biscuits would be next easiest and hidden.
3) Screw down through (or use dowels), square the top of the hole and use chamfered plugs for faux through tenons. I've seen this done a lot on A&C furniture.
 

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Morning Art. That's a cool piece. I'm thinkin' you wouldn't be happy with dowels/plugs on the top. I think the idea behind that piece is a clean looking top. I read Bob's response and while I certainly don't doubt it, I kinda lean towards over building. Such being the case I'd go with the splines or biscuits.
Best of luck with your project and don't forget to post the pics…lots a pics.
 

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First off, Bob Lang knows a helluva lot more than me, so I am inclined to listen to him. I do agree with him that since that glue joint is in fact long grain to long grain, I would feel pretty comfortable with just glue. Wood glue is incredible.

If that doesn't satisfy, I would go with the biscuit/dowel/floating tenon option. The biscuits and floating tenons give you a little more wiggle room to be off. I would cut all of your mortises in the rails and the tops at the same time using the same reference fence. I'd make a spacer block to compensate for the difference in width of the "armrest" top and the rails below. It'd be some work, but I think you'd get a really solid joint there that would hold up to even the most irresponsible of movers.
 

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Hi Art,
Looks like you got your answer with the glue. ... But wait there is more … I blew up the photo and noticed that there are screw holes in the corbels that have been plugged.
So besides the glue, it appears that there are counter bored screws going up into the rail at each of the corbels???
Just an observation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Again, I appreciate all the feedback. I will use just a strip of glue along the top rails and clamp the tops in place. As mentioned, if Bab Lang says it is good enough, then I am a believer.
 

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Most of the time, in original pieces there are plugged screws in the corbels. That's long-grain to long-grain too, but the curved surfaces tend to slip around when clamped. Screws make it all pretty easy and if you make the plugs from a scrap of the piece being plugged and line the grain up, they can be nearly invisible. Invisible at least to normal people, woodworkers will be compelled to point them out.
 

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Art,
I recently built both a Morris chair AND very similar settle. I used quartersawn white oak for chair and cherry for the settle. I highly recommend using Miller Dowels. Use them ALL the time to assemble tops. They come in a variety of different species of wood. So easy to use-comes with a stepped drill bit and are strong as heck. Flush trim and sand. Gorgeous. Use a contrasting wood and it even looks better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Ron, I have seen those before, but never paid any attention. They look good so I might give them a try. I can call Lee Valley, but do you, offhand, know the diameter of the "small" ones? Thanks.
 

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Art

Good to be back on here. I have been away for a time tending to my elderly parents. It looks like you have a great project your going to start. Building one of these is also in my "bucket" list. One suggestion; and you have probably made up your mind already; is to set your Morticing bit in your mortice machine at a 45 degree angle and dill have way through your top piece using a 5/8 or 1/2 mortice bit. This willl give you a nice diamond shaped mortice. You can than pre-drill a hole though that mortice and into the side and back. Drive in #8×1 screws after you have glued the area. Fill the Diamond shaped mortice with a nice piece of Walnut for a nice contrast.

Take care

Steve
 

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I would run a 1/4" deep dado on the underside of the top, (stop dado on the 2 ends) and plan on the sides and back to stick up 1/4" to go into the dado. Then glue would be enough, but if you wanted you could toenail some small brads through the dado.
 
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