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Splayed leg coffee table joinery questions

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Forum topic by Jeremymcon posted 01-19-2020 06:36 PM 657 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jeremymcon

414 posts in 1488 days


01-19-2020 06:36 PM

I want to make a modern style splayed leg coffee table. I have some bits of walnut that I split from a tree that I’d like to use to turn the legs (it’s been drying for 3 years).

I’m thinking about setting the legs in a cross grain batten under the table, with a 3/4” thick top and the battens being like 1.5” thick.

How should I attach the battens though? I considered a sliding dovetail batten, but in a modern style table I don’t really want to see the exposed dovetail slot. Do you guys think it’s be possible to cut stopped dovetail slots in mating pieces before gluing up the table top? I’d have to just assemble the undercarriage and insert the dovetail battens into the top while I’m doing my edge glue up.

Also – I’m considering a sort of Windsor style undercarriage, with 3/4” diameter spindles with 5/8” round tenons joining the undercarriage to the legs. Will 5/8” tenons hold up? Or will that assembly have too much flex over the 45” table length?


8 replies so far

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therealSteveN

5958 posts in 1382 days


#1 posted 01-19-2020 08:14 PM

People have been screwing a batten across the bottoms of tables, benches, and chairs for a very long time, even before screws were widely available nails were used to do the same. By widening the hole, or making a slot, through which they pass on the batten itself, the tables width has plenty of room to expand and contract.

-- Think safe, be safe

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Woodknack

13442 posts in 3188 days


#2 posted 01-19-2020 09:21 PM

MCM is a little out of my wheelhouse but 5/8 tenons sounds a bit small, because sometimes uncouth people or kids sit on coffee tables. Are you going to angle the ends of the cleats to splay the legs? (as opposed to angling the holes) I might bump the tenons to 7/8 and make the legs 1-1/8 at the top, or even 1-1/4. But maybe I’m overengineering. Also I agree with Steven, I would screw on the cleats.

Fake edit, I looked through my collection of original MCM plans and only one had legs attached with tenons and they were 3/4”, but were not splayed.

Real edit, I found this pic

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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Jeremymcon

414 posts in 1488 days


#3 posted 01-19-2020 09:28 PM

Right so the 5/8 tenons would be in the spindles that go between the legs. The 7/8 tapered tenons
attach the legs to the cleats. The mortise in the cleats are bored at 7/8 and then tapered with a reamer, probably taper to 1” or 1 1/8 at the big end of the hole.

I considered screws, but since the legs are attached to the cleats and not the table top, are screws going to be strong enough to hold them in that worst case scenario when somebody sits on the table? That’s why I was thinking sliding dovetail.

But maybe I’m overthinking it! Maybe screws, with some glue in the center 3-4” or so of the batten just for extra insurance?

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Jeremymcon

414 posts in 1488 days


#4 posted 01-19-2020 10:41 PM

Oh thanks Rick I like that table. That’s pretty close to what I had in mind, except with stretchers. I bet the one in the picture has legs attached with hangar bolts into the end of the leg, so idk if it’d be any stronger than a tapered 7/8 tenon?

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dscheidt

33 posts in 428 days


#5 posted 01-20-2020 02:29 AM



MCM is a little out of my wheelhouse but 5/8 tenons sounds a bit small, because sometimes uncouth people or kids sit on coffee tables. Are you going to angle the ends of the cleats to splay the legs? (as opposed to angling the holes) I might bump the tenons to 7/8 and make the legs 1-1/8 at the top, or even 1-1/4. But maybe I m overengineering. Also I agree with Steven, I would screw on the cleats.

- Woodknack


5/8” tennons are pretty common on chairs. Unless the angles are extreme, i’d think they’re strong enough for a small table.

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Woodknack

13442 posts in 3188 days


#6 posted 01-20-2020 06:08 AM



Oh thanks Rick I like that table. That s pretty close to what I had in mind, except with stretchers. I bet the one in the picture has legs attached with hangar bolts into the end of the leg, so idk if it d be any stronger than a tapered 7/8 tenon?

- Jeremymcon


It might. The only splayed leg mcm table plan I could find had the legs screwed on through the battens but the main advantage of using compound angle battens is to make the leg mortise & tenon easier. If it were me I would angle the battens and use a drill guide block to make the mortises with a hand drill.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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Woodknack

13442 posts in 3188 days


#7 posted 01-20-2020 06:09 AM



5/8” tennons are pretty common on chairs. Unless the angles are extreme, i d think they re strong enough for a small table.
- dscheidt

Good info, thanks.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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Jeremymcon

414 posts in 1488 days


#8 posted 03-24-2020 01:56 PM

I finished my coffee table! I decided to skip the undercarriage entirely, as I felt it was going to be too busy looking. I did 7/8 tapered and wedged through tenons in a dovetail batten. They’re strong enough that I am sit on the table and not feel like I’m going to break it. I do think that if I jumped on it or really tried hard to rack it I maybe could break a leg. But I’d have to try.

I took the dovetail slot the whole way through, but I added an under. Bevel to both the top and the battens so that you really done see much of it from sitting on the couch/standing. I only glued 4 inches in one side of each batten to allow the top to move a bit.

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