First time here. How to attach steel legs to live edge table?

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Forum topic by valerieRS posted 04-02-2014 11:22 PM 41008 views 2 times favorited 42 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 2246 days

04-02-2014 11:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question walnut joining finishing rustic modern claro hairpin legs table attach reinforce crack finish tung oil repair mid century modern live edge

Hi guys. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m building my first table/bench.

I bought this beautiful piece of Claro walnut wood and had it milled. I’m working on sanding it now.

1. My first question is what is the best way to attach the legs? I bought these steel hairpin legs but I don’t know if I should just screw them into the slab? The wood is about 1 inch thick. My concern is that there are cracks in the wood so i thought I would use something to reinforce the underside of the table while attaching the legs at the same time. Does that make sense?

2. I’m not sure how to finish it when I’m done sanding. I want to the wood to look natural, not too glossy/plastic looking but a little gloss is ok. Is there a certain product you recommend with this wood?

3. Do i need to put anything inside the cracks? ie. a wood glue?

Thanks for all the help! If this info is already posted somewhere please point me in the right direction.

42 replies so far

View Texcaster's profile


1292 posts in 2405 days

#1 posted 04-02-2014 11:30 PM

The Godfather of this sort of work. George Nakashima. He rarely filled. Welcome Valerie.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 3100 days

#2 posted 04-02-2014 11:37 PM

If you want a smooth top, you could fill the cracks with epoxy. Black would look good. Are you looking into any sort of mechanical method to stabilize those cracks?

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View a1Jim's profile


118047 posts in 4308 days

#3 posted 04-02-2014 11:47 PM

Welcome to Ljs Valerie
The hairpin legs I’ve seen have a place bolts that connect to the bottom of table tops. Bill’s link is a good one to show the possiblities for you wonderful slab. Filling the cracks is optional unless you feel the crack in your slab will alow it to break off. Many times when people want to fill cracks in slabs the use Epoxy glue and ad color to it to make it closer to some of the woods color.


View Manitario's profile


2812 posts in 3614 days

#4 posted 04-03-2014 12:05 AM

Welcome to LJ’s! That is a wonderful slab; it is really your choice whether you fill the cracks or not. I made a dining table out of elm:
I chose to fill most of the cracks; I used Envirotech epoxy with black dye. It turned out nice but it was a tedious process filling the cracks and took many hours of sanding to level the epoxy smooth. The “bowties” or “butterfly” inlays on the end are partly for looks and partly to keep the crack from expanding. I used 7 coats minwax tung oil on the table; it provides a bit of gloss and a bit of protection to the wood but also brings out some of the grain without looking plastic.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View SWCPres's profile


29 posts in 2260 days

#5 posted 04-03-2014 12:34 AM

For the finish that will not look plastic…Waterlox Original. It’s a very beautiful and complimentary finish to bring out the grain and still look natural. I would attribute it to a look similar to wiping some pure mineral spirits to the grain before the spirits evaporate. It will not significantly change the color of the wood either, maybe just a very slight browning effect. It’s really easy to apply; rag and wipe on and let sit 24 hours between coats 2-3 should get your look. If you desire a smoother finish 2 or 3 coats (with appropriate curing periods) then LIGHTLY sand by hand with 320 or 400 grit sandpaper. Clean up the resulting sawdust and apply another coat. You can repeat this process to continue to build a finer finish. After 2 go rounds with this process I recommend waiting 48 hours between coats. Also, always make sure you clean off any dust that has settled just prior to applying the next coat and secure all dust producing sources and anything that could create a breeze around the project to keep of the small particulates that can settle on the surface while curing. Waterlox is my go to finish.

-- Reinventing the "Wheel", one 800mg Ibuprofen at a time.....

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3421 days

#6 posted 04-03-2014 01:01 AM

I would probably glue blocks to the underside of that tabletop and then screw/bolt the legs to the blocks. This will allow the use of bigger/longer screws without risk of penetrating/splitting the table top.

West System epoxy is my choice for filling cracks and knots.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30544 posts in 3069 days

#7 posted 04-03-2014 01:28 AM

It is beautiful. You might consider putting butterflies across the cracks to stabilize it. I would pour epoxy to finish. I like Andys (gfadvm) idea to attach legs.

Welcome to Lumberjocks

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View valerieRS's profile


11 posts in 2246 days

#8 posted 04-03-2014 02:32 AM

Perfect! Thanks, guys.

I don’t mind the look or texture of the cracks at all. I’m just concerned about the table breaking because there are 2 long cracks that almost run the whole length of the slab. I’m thinking of doing something like this (see pic) but prettier. : ) I figured that would solve 2 problems – prevent the wood from breaking and give more depth for the leg screws since the wood is only 1 inch thick. The butterflies seem a little advanced. haha.

I’ll check out your recommendations on finishes. Thanks!

View coachmancuso's profile


259 posts in 2662 days

#9 posted 04-03-2014 02:44 AM

I would fill the voids with epoxy also, you want this to last a lifetime. Also the blocks for adding the legs are a good idea seeing the slab is 1 inch thick. Maybe add 4 boards 1”x 3”each, all glued together to go around the metal legs so it will add more beauty to the legs. Just a thought. That is a beautiful slab. What did you pay for a piece like that?

-- Coach Mancuso

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4379 days

#10 posted 04-03-2014 02:47 AM

Like gfadvm, I might glue blocks and then attach the hairpin
legs to the blocks. I think hairpin legs are kind of weak
aesthetically and with this approach you could chisel
off the blocks later and not have holes in the slab.

I’m not saying no to hairpin legs, just that you might
reconsider at a later time.

In terms of finish, I tend to use gloss film finishes and
rub them out to whatever sheen I want. A gloss finish
has a lot of toughness because less-glossy finishes have
“flatteners” in them and in the case of some finishes
these flatteners can introduce cloudiness.

I’ve recently done some chairs by padding on oil-modified
gloss waterborne polyurethane with excellent results. I
like a little more amber color than I got so I think in the
future I’ll lay down a coat of orange shellac followed by
the padded-on poly. The finish done this way is so thin
it it almost imperceptible and runs and build-ups can
be cleaned up or smoothed out with a fingertip or
fingernail and gloves are not needed. The finish gets rubbed
out with synthetic steel wool and top-coated with
paste wax. Looks gorgeous with a mild, glowing sheen.

View valerieRS's profile


11 posts in 2246 days

#11 posted 04-03-2014 02:52 AM

yeah, I had no idea wood was so expensive! i’m in los angeles so i did my research and found a family-owned place that is supposed to have the best deals (Bohnhoff Lumber Co). this piece was $192 before tax.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4379 days

#12 posted 04-03-2014 02:55 AM

I buy there too.

View Randy_ATX's profile


881 posts in 3173 days

#13 posted 04-03-2014 02:59 AM

That is a beautiful piece of walnut and IMO a decent price for it. Please post a follow-up once you get it as a finished project. For the price you paid, not much more for the hairpin legs, some labor and finish, you’ve got a fairly expensive table!

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View bigblockyeti's profile


6487 posts in 2451 days

#14 posted 04-03-2014 12:22 PM

You mentioned it was going to be a table/bench. I think you’re on the right track for an underside reinforcement if it’s to be used as a table. My concern is whether or not it will be used as a bench someone might sit on? If that’s the case I would lean more toward a traditional apron underneath to better support the flaws in the wood and give the legs more to mount to. The apron could certainly be set in from the edge a ways as to not detract from the natural beauty of the edge. The crack filling is purely preference, I will say that if I was making something that would regularly see food crumbs and/or condensation and spills from drink glasses, I would fill the cracks to prevent something from getting down in there that I couldn’t get out.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View valerieRS's profile


11 posts in 2246 days

#15 posted 04-13-2014 12:47 AM

I have a few more beginner questions & I can’t send a private email until I have 5 posts so I’m hoping someone sees this.

A couple of you mentioned that you would “glue” blocks to the underside of the table. I’m assuming this is better than drilling the blocks in to the slab, so I’m going to go with glue. Which glue should I use? I don’t know if something like Gorilla Glue is strong enough.

I’ve sanded the slab up to 220 for now (see updated pic) and just want to make sure I have the order of the next steps right. I don’t want to screw it up. Does this order sound right?
1. fill cracks w epoxy
2. more sanding, 220
3. finish w waterlox or tung / let cure
4. glue blocks underneath (these blocks will already be sanded/finished)
5. drill legs to blocks
6. polish
Am I missing anything?


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