Coffee Table leg to apron joinery

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Forum topic by Reinan posted 10-24-2017 03:17 AM 2911 views 1 time favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Reinan's profile


89 posts in 823 days

10-24-2017 03:17 AM

Alright guys, need a little help. I have been designing this coffee table as I go and have a leg and apron design in mind. But I have run into an issue… I want to do a bridle joint in the top of the legs in both directions. I had planned the aprons to be 3” tall which means the cuts in the end of each leg need to be 3” deep. The idea is to have the aprons run through each leg so that you see the end grain of the maple aprons on both outsides of each leg. I was going to notch the top of one apron and the bottom of the apron so they lock together in the center of each leg. I really didn’t want to rebate the aprons where they meet the leg. The legs will be tapered from 3” down to 2” or 1 1/2” after the bridle cuts are made. My intention was to bring the taper all the way up to the table top.

Here is my issue: my dado set is only an 8” blade, leaving me with a maximum depth of ~2”... leaving me with 2 options… 1.) rebate the height of the apron to 2” where it will enter the leg, which takes away from the visual on the outsides of the legs, and also leaves me a angular issue to overcome so the joinery is tight. Or 2.) use a standard kerf blade to make multiples cuts until I reach the ~13/16” width thickness of the aprons and clean up the bottom of the notch with a chisel.

The other concern is cutting a 3” deep kerf ~13/16” thick in solid walnut.

Any thoughts gentlemen? I am leaning towards the 2nd option, but thought I might ask some more experiences individuals.

-- -Russ

9 replies so far

View jerryminer's profile


960 posts in 2045 days

#1 posted 10-24-2017 05:39 AM

OK. In order for me to understand what you’re doing, I fooled around with SketchUp a little and sketched out your joint (I think).

I think I would band saw this joint, and clean up the bottom of the cut with a chisel. I would also include a shoulder on the apron, as an anti-racking measure. (I drew a shoulder on the inside face of the apron.

But if you taper the whole leg, you would probably have to cut the shoulders square and drive a wedge in from underneath in order to get the thing assembled. Does that make sense?

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View Reinan's profile


89 posts in 823 days

#2 posted 10-24-2017 12:39 PM

That sir is precisely what I had envisioned, trouble is I’m limited on my shop tools. No bandsaw at my disposal as of yet, I’m trying to make this work on a table saw.

The shoulder is a good addition which is easily added. Especially in the inside where I can shim the angle if I am a touch off. My troubles are how to make the leg cuts.

-- -Russ

View RRBOU's profile


231 posts in 2895 days

#3 posted 10-24-2017 01:11 PM

Easily made with a tenoning jig either commercially bought, or home made. Just use a FBG full 1/8” – 10” blade and nibble out the centers.

-- If guns cause crime all of mine are defective Randy

View Markmh1's profile


113 posts in 1046 days

#4 posted 10-24-2017 01:14 PM

If you don’t have a band saw, the cuts on the legs could be done with a hand saw.


View Lazyman's profile


4485 posts in 1990 days

#5 posted 10-24-2017 10:10 PM

Might be kind of awkward making those cuts on the end with your table saw so I would probably opt for getting a good tenon or back saw and make the cuts by hand and clean up/ fine tune with a chisel.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View TungOil's profile


1371 posts in 1098 days

#6 posted 10-24-2017 10:42 PM

If you don t have a band saw, the cuts on the legs could be done with a hand saw.


- Markmh1

or with a jigsaw and clean up with a sharp chisel.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View jerryminer's profile


960 posts in 2045 days

#7 posted 10-25-2017 08:53 AM

A tenoning jig on the table saw is not a bad option. If you don’t quite have enough blade height, you can finish with a chisel.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View Reinan's profile


89 posts in 823 days

#8 posted 10-25-2017 12:43 PM

I haven’t purchased a tenoning jig as of yet, but I’m sure I can whip something up from shop scrap. Thanks for the thoughts and ideas. I appreciate the help!

-- -Russ

View TechTeacher04's profile


418 posts in 2135 days

#9 posted 10-25-2017 01:25 PM

If you have a drill press you can drill out the majority of the waste and chisel out the remaining material. You could also make stopped rips to define the outside edges of the mortise in the end. Good luck

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