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stretcher or no stretcher?

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Forum topic by fiddlebanshee posted 11-03-2018 01:43 PM 673 views 2 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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fiddlebanshee

240 posts in 3364 days


11-03-2018 01:43 PM

Hi guys,

My church as asked for a standing desk that can will function as an area where people write out prayer requests and drop them in a slot for the prayer chaplains to collect them and put them in their prayer lists. I came up with this design in Fusion 360

Question at this conceptual stage is, would this need any stretchers at the bottoms of the legs for it to be sturdy? The aprons are about 7 1/2 inch wide, I wonder if that would give enough stability. I like the clean look of how it is now, but will not sacrifice stability for it. The legs would be about 1 1/2 inch at the top and tapered to about 1 inch at the bottom.

The other question, which I know none of you can answer is if I can actually build this. This is far outside my comfort zone, but having drawn it in Fusion I am wiling to attempt it. I have made no promises to the church, and I might model and practice parts of it first in less expensive wood. I’m thinking pocket screw construction where it is hidden and dowels or loose tenons where the joints are visible. I’m super excited about this and also at the same time a bit apprehensive.

-- As if I needed another hobby!


28 replies so far

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LittleShaver

554 posts in 1038 days


#1 posted 11-03-2018 01:47 PM

I think you’ll be fine without stretchers. I’m an M&T kind of guy, so I can’t endorse pockets screws.

-- Sawdust Maker

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fiddlebanshee

240 posts in 3364 days


#2 posted 11-03-2018 02:07 PM

Lol, it just has to do with my (non existent) comfort level with M&T given that I am a beginning woodworker and this would be my first project this big. I might use this opportunity to practice the MT technique, though and if it turns out well, I could put in a few.

Please also keep your ideas on all design aspects coming. The idea was that the filled in pieces of paper fall through the slot in the top into the drawer and the drawer gets pulled out to collect them. The side trays would hold pencils and the prayer request papers (1/4 sheets of letter size paper). I will probably make dividers in them to make organizing easier.

The drawer will also get a divider in the middle to separate older requests from new ones. That is why the slot is not in the middle of the top. I was thinking of making a small board go down attached to the underside of the top just left of the slot to just above the drawer so that the papers don’t migrate over the divider in the middle when people drop them in, and they stay neatly where they are supposed to be.

-- As if I needed another hobby!

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jdmaher

458 posts in 2998 days


#3 posted 11-03-2018 02:09 PM

For public use, I WOULD recommend stretchers. Individuals are likely to approach the desk rarely, and might not respect it as artwork. I imagine that quite a few of them would accidentally kick one of those skinny legs on approach. (And they ARE skinny legs, with an apparently heavy top structure.)

Better make it sturdy.

And toward that end, better use mortise and tenon joinery.

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

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Lazyman

3536 posts in 1806 days


#4 posted 11-03-2018 02:22 PM

It seems like the desks that I have seen like that, with long, thin legs, have had stretchers. I went to Woodsmith Magazine to see if they had a plan for one and sure enough, they had a stretcher between the legs on each side and a single cross stretcher connecting the middle of the side stretchers on their design. Since people tend to lean on desks like that, I think you want to add the extra strength that stretchers provide, especially for something that tall.

Instead of pocket screws, if you are not ready to tackle a hand cut mortise and tenon, I think that I would join the legs to the desk sides using stopped grooves and dados that you can cut with a router. In other words, rout grooves from the top end of the leg (square the stop end with a chisel) so you can slide in a tenon cut on the ends with the table saw of the sides and back. This will result in a much stronger and durable piece. If you have never done this before just practice with some scraps before you attempt it with your nice wood.

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

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fiddlebanshee

240 posts in 3364 days


#5 posted 11-03-2018 02:28 PM

Jim and Nathan – good points, esp about people leaning on the desk. Then if I need stretchers they cannot be in the tapered part of the leg, right?

Nathan—great idea about the joint construction. I think I can wrap my head around that.

-- As if I needed another hobby!

View lumbering_on's profile

lumbering_on

578 posts in 909 days


#6 posted 11-03-2018 02:42 PM

Since this is going to be in a public space, I would definitely go with stretcher for these legs. As jdmaher points out, you also could get people kicking the legs, and what if someone decides to move it and just starts dragging it by the legs?

There is nothing wrong with pocket hole screws in the top where it isn’t visible, but the legs and stretchers should be m&t. Dowels are a good choice for many things – in fact they are a loose m&t – however, since you’re using such thin boards, better go with a m&t.

BTW, how do you like the Fusion 360? I’ve been experimenting in it, and I really like it. I’m actually starting to get an itch to buy a 3d printer.

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jdmaher

458 posts in 2998 days


#7 posted 11-03-2018 03:00 PM

On tapering the legs . . .

It is possible to taper the outside edges and leave the inside edges straight. Since the mortises are on the inside edges, there isn’t a problem. But that always looks wrong to me.

So, yeah, put stretchers in the un-tapered section. In fact. I think I’d start the taper just below the stretchers.

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

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000

2859 posts in 1318 days


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

Instead of a stretcher maybe a shelf?

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fiddlebanshee

240 posts in 3364 days


#9 posted 11-03-2018 03:11 PM

Ok, yea that’s what I thought.

I spent some time looking at shaker style furniture pictures online and many do not have any stretchers. So I’m still on the fence on this. I will probably make the legs a bit beefier, going from 2.5 to 1.25 instead of 1.5 to 1.

The other consideration is that this is going to sit against a wall. So that will stabilize it. We may even think of fastening it to the wall at the back apron.

One other consideration that I had was to add another drawer, the frame of which would functions as a stretcher.

How did the shakers get away building tables like this without stretchers that didn’t fall apart?

-- As if I needed another hobby!

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fiddlebanshee

240 posts in 3364 days


#10 posted 11-03-2018 03:13 PM



Instead of a stretcher maybe a shelf?
- jbay

Yes, another option to put on the list!

-- As if I needed another hobby!

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5316 posts in 2728 days


#11 posted 11-03-2018 04:54 PM

Yeah stretchers, they are a good place for your feet. :) With good M&T joinery on a 7’’ apron I’d skip them. I think they would be distracting to the nice clean line of the work. If you must them Jay’s idea is next in line IMHO

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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TravisH

676 posts in 2354 days


#12 posted 11-03-2018 05:08 PM

My experiences have been that typically older people end using this feature frequently. So design appropriately for individuals that will be transferring weight from walkers, canes, be standing temporarily for wheel chairs, etc.. and will use the piece as support as they transition weight from one to another. Likely want to try avoiding creating new prayer requests.

May not be an issue depending on your church make up.

View lumbering_on's profile

lumbering_on

578 posts in 909 days


#13 posted 11-03-2018 06:48 PM


How did the shakers get away building tables like this without stretchers that didn t fall apart?

- fiddlebanshee

There’s a difference in having a table you throw against a wall and is used on occation by the family, and having something that anybody can push, kick, or move at any time. Plenty of people learn the hard way with Ikea furniture that it lasts until you try moving it a few times.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

5452 posts in 2770 days


#14 posted 11-03-2018 07:44 PM

I would say that if you use M&T joints you won’t need stretchers. Pockets screws, no guarantees. Mortise and tenon joints are not hard, give them a go.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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fiddlebanshee

240 posts in 3364 days


#15 posted 11-03-2018 08:19 PM

Ok Thanks everyone for the input. I have decided to listen to y’all and use M&T for the leg/apron assembly. I will still probably use some pocketscrews for the top assembly.

I am thinking a shelf at the midpoint, before the taper would not be a bad idea. I have also increased the leg size from 1”at the bottom to 1 1/2 inch at the top to 2” at the top tapering to 1 inch at the bottom.

-- As if I needed another hobby!

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