Dovetailing a table skirt?

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Forum topic by JohnMcClure posted 06-04-2018 08:55 PM 927 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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845 posts in 1248 days

06-04-2018 08:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: table skirt apron dovetail question

I am building a small coffee table. It occurred to me (without any prior research) to build an apron/skirt using dovetails, then glue square legs into the inside corners (no joinery required there, due to lots of glue surface).

That was my thought, until I searched for examples online and found none. Most everyone uses M&T (apron into leg) or variations on the theme.

Is my idea fundamentally flawed? What are some other attractive methods for doing this?

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

3 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4255 days

#1 posted 06-04-2018 09:03 PM

Sliding dovetails? They work fine for attaching
table skirts to legs. Mortise and tenon is
easier though. Sliding dovetails are tricky
to get right.

If you want to give it a go, you can consider
a sliding half-dovetail which allows fitting
one side of the joint with a bench plane.

Google “sliding dovetail table apron” and you’ll
see some examples. It is a very robust joint if
done well.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6038 posts in 3421 days

#2 posted 06-04-2018 09:07 PM

I have used dovetails on a dining table apron. However, the apron just keeps the table flat and well-supported. The legs are still joined to the frame with M&T joints.

Good luck!

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

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1528 days

#3 posted 06-05-2018 02:42 AM


The only issue I can foresee with gluing the legs at the inside corners of the dovetailed apron is ensuring the floor-end of the legs end up in the same plane. If one leg shifts up or down during the glue-up the floor-end of the legs would not all be in the same plane and the table could wobble.

Consistently cut shallow shoulders (rabbets) on each leg that are then used to register the lower edge of the apron could reduce the likelihood of this from happening. In addition a shallow rabbet on which the apron sets would reduce reliance of glue alone for table support.

Of course, if the legs are such that the table wobbles, the floor-end of the legs can be cut or sanded so that all four floor-ends of legs end up in the same plane.

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