Laminate Legs vs Solid

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Forum topic by lobro4 posted 08-09-2009 07:01 PM 10695 views 1 time favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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211 posts in 3825 days

08-09-2009 07:01 PM

Just built a bed set and used a large timber to make solid 3”x3” legs. Originally had thought of laminating narrower material. Is there a difference in long term stability? At least with solid legs I don’t have to worry about which side to face out!

-- Rock Chalk Jayhawk Go KU!!

18 replies so far

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3882 days

#1 posted 08-09-2009 08:36 PM

Actually laminated woods are as strong or stronger then the solid pieces….

For one you can be sure to eliminate any internal checks, knots or other flaws in each segment prior to glue up…whereas a solid piece is hard to see any that do not come through to the suface.

As an example, I have 2 work benches….one with solid 4X4 supports and one that I built using 2 laminated 2×4’s. The mass produced shop made (was a bench I inherited) 4×4 has a bad crack going up the side of one support that I have had to glue and clamp. I will someday have to replace this one as the weakness is propelling the crack up the grain which is now into the metal spreader causing it to wobble when the bench clamp is in use for sanding.

The bench I made from laminating has taken a heavy bit of service and the legs and spreaders are not having any problem keeping up and so far no wobbling and no cracking.

That is just one example….I think there are just as many showing on the other side….but I think all in all you will get just as sturdy and item by laminating as you get from solids….and sometimes the smaller dimensional woods are easier to find and cheaper in most cases. Not to mention how easy it is to make the MT joints when the wood is in two pieces….

My .02 cents…

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4380 days

#2 posted 08-09-2009 10:30 PM

on a post the glue lines would just look horrible. but for something like a workbench the laminations would probably add more strength. but the masters before us for many centuries made big massive workbench legs out of solid wood and it worked out fine.

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4356 days

#3 posted 08-09-2009 11:44 PM

There’s always the quadrilinear method, made popular by the Stickleys. Makes a strong post, just have to get inventive with the top.

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 4048 days

#4 posted 08-14-2009 12:19 PM

Teenagewoodworker, I agree with. If the wood is properly selected and dried and all that, then solid legs should do the job just fine… and to be honest, unless the legs are really really, big, where you cannot find the lumber thickness you need or perhaps for design reasons, you really want to make a laminated look or for lack of machines to work thick lumber, then I would go with solid legs.

Also the proper way to select solid wood legs is to make sure the grain is going toward the outside of the in a 45°angle from the middle. This to help make sure that the seam between the rails and the feet of the bed or table or bench, does not open up if there is any wood movement.

A picture says a thousand words, Maybe this helps to explain what I am trying to say.

example table/bed corner

when proper wood grain choice is affected by wood movement:


when woodmovement affects such a corner with not so ideal grain choice:


so I hope this illustrates why you should watch which side faces outward as well that you can use solid legs with out a problem…. it just looks better

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 4170 days

#5 posted 08-14-2009 12:39 PM

Hey teen…........... we laminate posts all the time and turn them, paint them, stain them, etc. and we don’t have any problems with glue lines. If glued up and clamped properly, you won’t see much of if any glueline. And yes, they are stronger and more stable.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 4048 days

#6 posted 08-14-2009 02:13 PM

Good point, it can be that the legs are some what more resistant to movement, but, if you have nice straight grain it should not play a large role for legs on a bed/bench or table.

I am of the opinion that the solid simply looks better. Sure you can have perfect glue lines (invisible) but still the grain has to be perfectly matched, which also uses sometimes more wood, than if one just used a good piece of solid material, up to a point, of course. I think this because if you have stips of wood in a leg, it can look like it was made with “scraps” or you ran out of wood or something… maybe even look like it was made by mass production. Just my opinion, thats all , Just for looks.

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View Les Hastings's profile

Les Hastings

1305 posts in 4385 days

#7 posted 08-15-2009 03:55 AM

Or you just need a really good finisher!

-- Les, Wichita, Ks. (I'd rather be covered in saw dust!)

View Moron's profile


5046 posts in 4505 days

#8 posted 08-15-2009 05:01 AM

impossible question to answer

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 4349 days

#9 posted 08-15-2009 06:01 AM

I use resin glues for laminating if I don’t want the glue line showing. Yellow glues are flexible and can show the glue lines with expansion and contraction. Titebond II also works well.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4497 days

#10 posted 08-15-2009 04:05 PM

Good discussion thanks for bringing it up!

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View bigbullets's profile


25 posts in 2672 days

#11 posted 10-10-2012 07:09 PM

This is the problem i am having. Getting ready to build a library stand for my wife and the plans call for 1 3/4 inch square legs. finding 8/4 oak is not exactly cheap and to only get just enough for the legs is hard, so do i laminate 2 one inch boards which is cheaper for go with solid. Ive tried the Stickley way before and it is not as easy as it sounds.

-- "good night Chesty Puller, where ever you are"

View HorizontalMike's profile


7804 posts in 3526 days

#12 posted 10-10-2012 07:18 PM

Yes, I would do just that. Laminate three (3) dimensional piece of oak together and plane down to size. Remember that your “one inch” boards are actually going to be 3/4” or maybe even less. If you are feeling creative, you can even pre-thin each of the boards so that your final laminated piece will show three equal thickness pieces in the lamination.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View bigbullets's profile


25 posts in 2672 days

#13 posted 10-10-2012 07:37 PM

well I am starting from rough 5/4 lumber, would you still do three equal pieces or just two and use a veneer to cover the joints?

-- "good night Chesty Puller, where ever you are"

View HorizontalMike's profile


7804 posts in 3526 days

#14 posted 10-10-2012 07:43 PM

I am thinking that if you book match the two pieces and fold one back to the other, the side grains will match and no veneer would be needed nor desired.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View bigbullets's profile


25 posts in 2672 days

#15 posted 10-10-2012 07:52 PM

nice great idea Mike thanks

-- "good night Chesty Puller, where ever you are"

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