Table leg and apron joint - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 Old 12-23-2008, 11:55 AM Thread Starter
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Table leg and apron joint

Okay, so I am probably obsessing far too much about my first project. The perfectionist in me lays awake at night thinking about this stuff…..geesh…….

So I am ready to cut the mortise and tenons for assembly of the short and long table aprons to the legs. I know the top of the aprons need to be flush with the top of the leg so that the table top assembles flush against both. Is there a trick for getting the apron top edge and table legs top edges flush? Or it is really just a matter or precise measurement and machining skill?

Is it better to leave the apron top edge a little proud of the top of the leg and plane down the apron edge or is it better to leave the top of the table leg proud of the top of the apron and trim the table leg down. I realize that in order for the later solution to work successfully I would have had to have cut the top edge of two mortises in each leg precisely the same distance down from the table leg top end. I am not sure if I am that good just yet so I was wondering if there was a tip or trick that you guys use after the mortises and tenons are cut to correct any variances and bring everything nice and flush in advance of attaching the table top….

My goodness I am becoming not only obsessed but addicted......

Regards and Happy Holidays,
Tom
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post #2 of 12 Old 12-23-2008, 01:01 PM
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"Or it is really just a matter or precise measurement and machining skill?"

Basically yes. I leave just the slightest amount of "slop" so that I can slide the apron up and down in the mortise for perfect alignment.

G
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post #3 of 12 Old 12-23-2008, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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"Or it is really just a matter or precise measurement and machining skill?"

Basically yes. I leave just the slightest amount of "slop" so that I can slide the apron up and down in the mortise for perfect alignment.

G
Hi George,

Thank you. When you say a "slight amount of slop".....1/32.....1/64..?

When gluing up the joint in this fashion, how do you keep the tenon from moving? Do you insert a small wedge or something similar to keep it perfectly in position in the mortise while the glue dries during clamping??

Tom
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post #4 of 12 Old 12-23-2008, 01:49 PM
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If you take all the legs and all the apron pieces and line them up so the tops are flush, you can mark where your mortise will begin and end. Take a square and draw lines across all of them at the same time. Do the same with the tenon location.
How are you cutting the mortises?
If you are using a dedicated mortiser or a drill press to drill out the waste, set a stop block for the first mortise/drill and do all the legs. Then go back and set the stop block for the last mortise hole...do all of the legs. After that you can go back and mortise/drill out the waste in between the holes.
Using a fence also helps keeeping things aligned.
For the tenons, I always do a test run or two with a piece of scrap that is the same width and thickness of the apron stock.

Never lick a steak knife.
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post #5 of 12 Old 12-23-2008, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Rob View Post
If you take all the legs and all the apron pieces and line them up so the tops are flush, you can mark where your mortise will begin and end. Take a square and draw lines across all of them at the same time. Do the same with the tenon location.
How are you cutting the mortises?
If you are using a dedicated mortiser or a drill press to drill out the waste, set a stop block for the first mortise/drill and do all the legs. Then go back and set the stop block for the last mortise hole...do all of the legs. After that you can go back and mortise/drill out the waste in between the holes.
Using a fence also helps keeeping things aligned.
For the tenons, I always do a test run or two with a piece of scrap that is the same width and thickness of the apron stock.
Hi Rob,

Thank you for your message. I am a newbie on a bit of a budget so i am probably doing it the hard way. I am going to do the mortises with a plunge router and edge guide on a shop made jig. I am going to attempt my first tenons using a stack dado blade on a table saw. I think i should be able to get fairly close to flush after machining but i have a feeling I am not yet good enough to be exact. I figured there was a probably a trick or two to correct the inevitable variance i will have.

Tom
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post #6 of 12 Old 12-24-2008, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Tom5151 View Post
Hi George,

Thank you. When you say a "slight amount of slop".....1/32.....1/64..?

When gluing up the joint in this fashion, how do you keep the tenon from moving? Do you insert a small wedge or something similar to keep it perfectly in position in the mortise while the glue dries during clamping??

Tom
Maybe a 1/32". I have never had a problem with movement when gluing so have never thought about how to stop it.

G
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post #7 of 12 Old 12-24-2008, 05:01 PM
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Drill Press and Cross Slide Vise for mortise

and Dado blade for the tenons.

Always and I mean always have enough waste cut-offs from your apron pieces that are long enough to set your tenon cuts. If you want to make furniture you will have to get used to wasting (sacrificing) some extra wood in order to set your tools up.

Make your mortise first. When making your tenons constantly check for fit. It's easy to cut too much off tenons if not paying attention. Raise blade just a hair at a time to set the depth because when you will flipping over the stock to make the tenons. This will in effect, make the total cut twice as deep. Once your depth is set correctly, you should be able to rock and roll.

As for how tight the fit?, thats hard to put into words. On one end of the scale, it should not just slide in easily. On the other end of the scale, you should not have to use any more force tha a slight tap or three with a mallet or moderate pressure with your clamps.

I assemble my legs and aprons all at once, more or less. I do it in sets. I put the legs on the ends of the long stretchers (aprons) first. Then I connect the two sets of the long ends with the short ends. This is all done upside down on a very flat surface. I apply my pipe clamps then set the whole thing right side up on a flat floor or work bench. Measure diagonally on opposite corners and they should be the same. If not, use another clamp diagonally to pull it into square. Make sure everything looks good including the legs being square to the aprons. Have a beer and feel good about it.

By the way, dry fit everything before your final glue-up.

Tony B



Retired woodworker, amongst other things, Sold full time cruising boat and now full time cruising in RV. Currently in Somerville, Tx
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post #8 of 12 Old 12-25-2008, 12:37 PM
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Hi George,

Thank you. When you say a "slight amount of slop".....1/32.....1/64..?

Tom
Tom: you got some fine advice above, but remember, there is always some fine tuning required of the mating surfaces. If you are not chopping the mortises by hand and using a router, fine, just mill your tenons as best you can, round over the edges to fit the mortise, and test fit. My practice is never to tune the mortise, tune the tenon to fit the mortise. If its not flush with the top of the leg, get a chisel and pare a little from the top of the tenon, just a little, and then re-fit; repeat until you are satisfied.

RN
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post #9 of 12 Old 12-26-2008, 11:03 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all again so much for your great advice.......it's been too darn cold here in Chicago to work in the workshop.....err.....garage......even with the heater.......we are supposed to be in the 50s this weekend here so i will be putting your great advice to work.....hopefully I have learned something.....

Happy Holidays to All,
Tom
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post #10 of 12 Old 12-27-2008, 11:49 PM
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My practice is never to tune the mortise, tune the tenon to fit the mortise. If its not flush with the top of the leg, get a chisel and pare a little from the top of the tenon, just a little, and then re-fit; repeat until you are satisfied.

RN
exactly what I would suggest
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post #11 of 12 Old 01-12-2009, 09:43 PM
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Tom I've been practising cutting tenons-and I emphathise practising. My experience so far is take you're time and sneak up on the thickness of the tenon cut check and recut. Mine are coming along fairly well now after working out some kinks. Make sure you're wood is flat and square or you'll end up with a taper on the tenon
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post #12 of 12 Old 01-13-2009, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks to all who replied. So far so good......I am spending a lot of time practicing and also leaving myself about a 1/16 of slop in the mortise and things are lining up quite nicely
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