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Forum topic by TiMoD posted 05-13-2019 12:36 PM 351 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View TiMoD's profile


5 posts in 44 days

05-13-2019 12:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: table legs joints maple joining milling

Hi! I’m looking to build a console table as similar as possible to the one pictured here. What is the best method to build/assemble/join such a table keeping in mind cost and weight? More specifically, how should the legs and tabletop be made and then effectively joined together? I also prefer that the showcase surfaces be face grain. Am planning to use maple and target dimensions are 8ft long x 2ft wide x 3 ft high. Thanks!

13 replies so far

View Lazyman's profile


3433 posts in 1783 days

#1 posted 05-13-2019 02:14 PM

In the picture, it looks to me like they made a plywood box for the legs and covered it with veneer. I suspect that the top is similarly a plywood box attached and resting on the leg—sort of like a hollow door or a torsion box perhaps. That would make it light but with proper construction still be plenty strong. At 8’ long, you wouldn’t want to stand on it but it would hold the normal sort of stuff you put on an entryway table. If the veneer is applied after construction, you can make the corner look like a miter joint or like a slab sitting on vertical slabs.

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

View TiMoD's profile


5 posts in 44 days

#2 posted 05-13-2019 05:20 PM

Thanks Lazyman, yes agree seems like a veneer over a box structure. I guess if I make hollow box structures out of maple instead then I could approach it the same way (i.e. 3 independent slabs joined together), although might get heavy.

The alternative is to make the hollow boxes for the legs and attach an apron with a flush tabletop. It won’t be seamless but maybe good enough.

Any others ideas?

View CaptainKlutz's profile


1392 posts in 1890 days

#3 posted 05-13-2019 07:12 PM

Wife had piece like that before we got married. Total ‘flat pack’ big box store junk. Embarrassing piece to have in a wood workers home, long gone now. :-)

Was made with colored vinyl skinned 1/8” luan plywood panels glued to a honeycomb cardboard box, The top was actually 2 pieces, held together with slot underneath using panel fasteners similar to used on countertops. They glued in wood brace to cardboard box for strength. The ‘legs’ used the quarter turn nuts on inside with hidden bolts on bottom of top panel. The fasteners were hidden with stickers when done with assembly. It weighed maybe 30-40 pounds total?

Could remake it with light weight popular plywood torsion box and veneer. Would use mortise in top, and tenon on leg; then decorative bolt thru tenon on outside to allow for disassembly. Could use ‘bench bolt’ style attachment to have bolts concealed on underside of top.

According to the sagulator, could make the 8’ long table from 2.5”+ thick slab of maple and avoid need to torsion box as long as not a bench loaded with bodies or other heavy stuff? If you found the right slab, could make the legs ‘waterfall’ with continuous grain down sides for a classy look. Using slab construction, would probably use dovetail(s) to attach legs. If needed disassembly of legs, then use screws inside each dovetail, hidden with wooden plugs. Another leg attachment option would be more rustic looking drawbore tenon. If ok to use exposed metal, then various decorative brackets become options.

Lots of ways to make a SIMILAR piece. :)

Best Luck.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View SMP's profile


1058 posts in 301 days

#4 posted 05-13-2019 08:50 PM

You are mentioning lightweight? Do they have something lile that at ikea?

View TiMoD's profile


5 posts in 44 days

#5 posted 05-14-2019 01:59 AM

Thanks Captain, a lot of good info including the sagulator link. Agree the waterfall option would be really nice if I could find a slab long enough. I also considered the mortise and tenon joint to connect the legs and tabletop, just in doubt whether I could properly execute that. ;-/ Worth a shot though!

View bilyo's profile


696 posts in 1498 days

#6 posted 05-14-2019 02:39 PM

I agree with the torsion box idea mentioned above. My initial thoughts would be to use a good quality 1/2” ply top and bottom with 1×2 or 1×3 (depending on how thick you want the top and legs) poplar for the internal “grid”. I would want the joints to be very strong and a large mortise and tenon would likely work. However, I think I would try a mock-up to see if I could build up some finger joints of the poplar 1x’s as i’m making the internal grid. This would save having to try to cut them. After this is all glued up. just apply your veneer of choice.
Nice project. Good luck.

View CWWoodworking's profile (online now)


502 posts in 574 days

#7 posted 05-14-2019 03:44 PM

Personally I think 2.5” would look terrible. Minimum for me would be 3.25”. Which for a lot of people would move them to torsion box.

View bondogaposis's profile


5416 posts in 2747 days

#8 posted 05-14-2019 06:25 PM

Does it really need to be 8’ long? That is a really long span to be unsupported.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View CaptainKlutz's profile


1392 posts in 1890 days

#9 posted 05-14-2019 11:39 PM

I only mention using slab for project as SWMBO wants me to replace the long gone paper/vinyl table, that was 7’L x ~18”w and used behind the sofa. She likes the thick solid top look, and has me constantly looking for thick affordable slabs.

LOL, ‘affordable slabs’, that is definition of oxymoron…. :-)

IMHO – Nothing sexier than a 3”+ thick slab of Bubinga, Paroto, or Pau Ferro for a table top, that is if you can afford it!

Here in AZ we see a lot of softwood slabs from mountain regions of AZ and NM. Alligator Juniper slabs can be had for as little as $4 bdft, and can have some splendid figure/color variations. Also see southern red cedar slabs that are note worthy, as southern variety is less aromatic than typical eastern cedar. Typically all slabs I find affordable are too rustic/knotty for SWMBO preference. So the frugal slab hunt continues….

+1 Would also start with a 3.5-4 inch slab, or maybe laminate some 16/4 oak beam lumber to make that top.
The 2.5” dimension I mentioned was minimum without sag over 8 feet.

+1 Length of 8 feet is sort of long for unsupported span, and will add weight and/or complexity preventing sag.

Best Luck with project!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View TiMoD's profile


5 posts in 44 days

#10 posted 05-15-2019 12:23 AM

Thanks all for the guidance. I’m making a major revision to the dimensions. The table length can be reduced to 6’, width will be 20”, and height 36”...more normal! So I’m inclined to approach this as follows:

-Build a 4” thick x 20” x 34” torsion box structure out of maple (with lightweight core) for the legs. All sides face grain joined with box joints.
-Build a tabletop using 2” x 6’ slabs
-Connect the legs with a 2” x 2” apron, joined to the legs with dowels (or some tabletop + apron thickness combination totaling 4”)
-Secure the tabletop using slotted cleats, flush to the legs and apron

I’m not keen on using veneer even though it’s what is used on the table in the picture, but still trying to get a flush, clean look as best as possible.

Does this seem structurally sound/optimal? Suppose the alternative for the legs would be to join many solid wood blocks to achieve the target leg dimension, but I’m guessing that might make it unnecessarily heavy…?

Final thoughts/opinions appreciated – thanks!!

View CWWoodworking's profile (online now)


502 posts in 574 days

#11 posted 05-15-2019 12:39 AM

2” isn’t thick enough aesthetically IMO.

Even though it may not seem like a lot, 2” to 3+”, it is the most important measurement.

That table could be 5-8’ long, doesn’t matter. Could be 30-36” tall, doesn’t matter. Could be 16-24 depth, you get the point.

But make it thin, it looks like you went cheap. Make it too thick, and it loses the contemporary feel and looks timber-ish

IMO, 3-4” is the sweet spot.

I had the same feelings about veneers. Then the other day I toured this guys factory-

Mind changed.

View JohnMcClure's profile (online now)


631 posts in 1036 days

#12 posted 05-15-2019 01:35 AM

I don’t believe you need a torsion box for your top, particularly now that it’s only 6ft long. Using three maple 1×4s (3.5” wide) on edge, as stretchers running the length of the top, and top that with something relatively thin – plywood plus veneer, or a top glued up from 3/4” maple (ideal); I don’t think it’ll sag; and from the side it will appear to be the appropriate thickness.
Just $0.02.

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

View TiMoD's profile


5 posts in 44 days

#13 posted 05-15-2019 02:24 AM

Thanks CWW and John for the good ideas. I suppose I can play around with the tabletop and apron thicknesses based on taste to match the 4” legs for a uniform look. I will also consider running a third apron/stretcher down the center between the legs for additional support. Thanks again!

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