mainewood

table top with through legs and exposed leg end gain

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Hi all

I'm looking to make an interesting coffee table. I have some reclaimed beech planks, which I have milled down, and glued up into a top, 2inches thick.

Here is my question.

For the legs I was thinking of using some really nice old growth pine, and having them cut through the top so you could see the end gain on the legs, when you look at the top of the table. I think it will look very nice and give a good contrast with the beech top.

If you have ever been to an Apple store, you will have an idea of what I’m talking about, on their display tables. They have their legs right at the edge of the top and flush with the outer 2 edges.

I was hoping to have my legs set in from the edge so would have to cut a square hole in the top to put the legs in. Can I just cut a square hole in the top, push the leg in from the bottom, flush with top, glue and be done? Will this work?

If so, Should I cut the legs like a tenon and leave shoulders on them to have more glue service on the bottom of the table?

I may just be showing my inexperience here as I don’t know what this style would be called. I’ve done a big web search and can’t come up with any good information.

Any ideas/help would be appreciated.

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This design will be a lot easier to execute if you include an apron between the legs.

An apron will give you something to attach the table top to AND will provide stability for the table.

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If it is a solid wood tabletop, as it sounds like, you would need to be careful having top meet the leg sides, either just butting or with a shoulder below it, because the top will want to expand seasonally and may push the legs out of square, depending on the rest of the table structure. Otherwise, my preference is to have a shoulder somewhere to provide a positive registration surface.

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+1 on a shoulder where the leg will meet the top. This will let you size and shape the leg as you want, and then independently work the tenon size where it goes through the top, for a perfect fit.

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Thanks all. I guess I won’t know till I give it a try.

Per the advice, I’ll give it a try with a through tenon, with shoulders. I’m not apposed to having a skirt/apron running all around the underside of the table top, and I’ll add this in too.

I swear I have come across photos of people doing this type of design, yet all I seem to find on line is furniture at the apple store

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What is rough width of the top? Having legs attached solidly to the top (proud or not), means that the legs will move in the cross direction of the top's width (assuming typical grain running lengthwise). Shoulders very helpful.

Problem with stretchers in width direction is that they would not move with the top (and attached legs) movement. If table is not too wide you might get away with it. Stretchers lengthwise would be ok. If the stretchers are towards the floor, rather than tight to the top, then the legs might have enough flex that movement will not tear it apart. This is sort of how some chairs and stools are made.

Just a thought on the through tenon. Depending up your taste and the table's style you might want to use wedged tenons. That supplies further strength and adds a visual (good or bad, but I like them in many of my designs).

Have fun with your project.

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the top is 2 inches thick, 42 inches long and 38 wide. Its going to be a big, wide coffee table. the space its going in calls for something this wide. the legs are rough cut so far to 3.5 inches x 3.5 inches.

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There is no way a stretcher across the grain direction will work. Even at the bottom of the leg, the top is going to move enough to make the table look bow-legged or knock-kneed depending on the season.

I'd cut a 1/2" shoulder around the legs to provide a reference face to balance some of the torque. Most of the strength from the glue will come from the two faces of the tenon that are glued to the long grain of the top.

I would expect the leg to shrink in the dry season. The shrinkage should match the shrinkage of the top so the two faces that are long grain to long grain will be nice and stable. The shrinkage of the leg in the other direction will not be matched by the top and you could expect a small crack to open up. Since this is on the faces that are end grain of the top, the crack will probably be at the joint. If you make the top of the tenon flush with the top, this might be noticable. I would therefore suggest having the tenon sit proud of the top and pillow the edges (like G & G style) to put the crack in the shadow.

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I would re think the design. You have to keep in mind when you see this sort of stuff on commercial fixtures it usually well disguised mdf and is not going to move.

Don

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If you are really set on "the look" and also using the stock you have for the top, what you could do is "fake it" by essentially making 4 large mortises on the top and inserting "plugs" made from the leg stock. I would pillow the top of the plugs and leave them a bit proud as suggested above. If you do this, and make your mortises a bit under sized, and you plugs with shoulders, you will not have to worry about any expansion being visible. Underneath you would need to build a more conventional legs in the corners table with stretchers design, locating the legs directly under your plugs in the top. finally connect the two with you favorite method, be it figure 8s, S-Clips or home made that allow for the top movement over the frame. This would give you the appearance of through the top legs, and most folks unless they look closely won't notice the actually mis-alignment with seasonal movement.

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This sounds like a pretty fun and interesting project. As long as the table top is thick enough (which is sounds like it is) and the legs are stout enough that there is a decent shoulder underneath, this should be a very solid and stable design. The key will be keeping the leg mortises far enough away from the edge of the top (especially on the end-grain side) to avoid having that wall blow out on you.

I'd also argue against wedging the tenons, since no matter which way you orient the wedges they will either be pushing the grain apart (which is bad) or pushing against that thin wall of stock between the mortise and the end of the table. If you use rift-sawn stock for the legs, you won't have enough expansion or contraction (in relation to the top) to compromise the integrity of the joint. I wouldn't use this design for a taller table, since it definitely won't resist racking as much as a standard apron joint, but for a coffee table it should work just fine.

I'm going to be experimenting a lot more with an apron-less table design in some upcoming projects so I look forward to seeing the finished piece!

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If you have ever been to an Apple store, you will have an idea of what I’m talking about, on their display tables. They have their legs right at the edge of the top and flush with the outer 2 edges.

I have made something similar in looks, but different in execution. The table is an extension dining table. The legs come "through" the top. The client wanted the table "portable", so the through tennons are actually fake. The legs attach to the stretchers with lag screws and corner blocks. The top is maple plywood with solid wood edging.

http://www.whiteandredworks.com/extensionTable001b.html

I have examined the tables at the Apple stores (am I the only one that has no problem climbing under furniture at public places to see how it was made?), and I bieleve that the legs are solid wood, but the tops and veneerd, so they won't have the expansion issues.

I hope this helps in some way.

Jonathan

===================================

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If you have ever been to an Apple store, you will have an idea of what I’m talking about, on their display tables. They have their legs right at the edge of the top and flush with the outer 2 edges.

I got a chance to look at the apple store tables this past weekend they are definatly not solid, probably mdf or partical board. Thats how you get around expansion and contraction.

Don

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Mark actually made a stool with through legs at one stage. It appears in this video http://thewoodwhisperer.com/76-humble-pie/ which is actually about looking back at past projects and realising what you've done wrong...However... he doesn't say this was a mistake, just that you might feel slight bumps at those joints as the wood expands and contracts.

I'd love to hear his take on this now.

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