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Newbie question: Joining small end table

2165 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Manco247
Hi all,

Background: I'm a bit of a newbie to woodworking. So far the only thing of note I have built has been a small bench/shoe rack, which turned out functional, but fairly ugly. I want my next project to look good. I found plans for a table similar to this one online, but I foolishly forgot to save the link, and can no longer find the plans. So I'm on my own now. I don't have many tools of my own, but I work at an Air Force base, which has an awesome woodshop, so I have access to every tool I could need.

Project: A low table with a shelf for my printer. Using pine, because I want something inexpensive, so the stakes are low if I mess up. The legs are two pieces each, joined together. You can see in the pictures that the faces of all the joints are cut at 45 degrees.

Questions: How do I join 1) the leg pieces together, 2) the perimeter pieces together, and 3) the table to the perimeter? I know glue will be involved, but I would prefer to not use ONLY glue.

Hope that's enough info. Thanks for the help!


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You've got a few options with the miter joints for the legs and aprons. You could use splines, biscuits, dowels, screws, or a lock miter router bit to add mechanical strength to the joint. I have used a lock miter bit with good success, but it requires a careful setup to get good results.

For the tabletop, you'll want to allow the top to move seasonally so you don't want to rigidly fasten it to the aprons. Look at the figure 8 brackets at a woodworking store for a great option for securely attaching the top while still allowing seasonal wood movement.
Search the Kreg site for pocket hole construction. And since you're using pine, 2 X 2s or 2 X 3s would serve your purpose. Here's a pic of a 1 X 12 X 8 pine board challenge, I made a few years ago. Still being used.

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Easiest method would be pocket hole screws, which will offer a good joint. Personally I try to stick to wood joinery, mortise and tennon mostly. A tight fitting m & t will probably be stronger than screws but would require some chages to work with the 45 degree joing you have. In my experience theyre a little better at hiding mistakes and can be done easily with a tablesaw, bandsaw, or a hand saw with a spine.
legs can be as thin as 1 and 1/2 square. using the Kregg jig pocket hole tool you can easily assemble the sides to the legs
. you will love the jig
Thanks for all the feedback! I just realized that I can't buy a board of pine that's 16" wide from the Lowes. Any suggestions for making the tabletop out of multiple planks?
Yep, time to do a glue up. You'll need clamps. And btw, some people also use pocket holes for glueing panels together, in which case, you won't need clamps.
Be sure your edges are square and as smooth and straight as possible. Usually done with a plane for the best joints. Screws aren`t needed in my opinion. Usually the wood breaks before the glue does.
For the legs, a miter glue-up with no fasteners can work. If you make a nice L-shape jig to clamp the two 45 cuts together with wood glue, it will be fine and strong. Just wax the jig. Clamp each side down on the miter, and they will press together.

Alternatively, you can miter fold the corner with masking tape, but it's not as good of a joint....more for nonstructural pieces. I've done tons of wall or desk panels this way, but I wouldn't do it for a table leg.
There is nothing wrong (and a lot right) with using only glue. I very seldom use any thing other than glue.

The attendant at the Hobby Shop should be able to assist you,especially as a beginner. That is part of their job description. He/she will not do the work for you, but will give you instructions and information.

If you have not yet done so you will have to get a "card" that shows you have taken the safety class.

We had a great Wood Hobby Shop here at Eglin, but unfortunately it closed several years ago because it was not making any money. Today's Services Squadron (I sometimes question the title) has to make money or the function is closed. There is no ascribed profiti in just being there for the troops.

I would put a hardwood spline through the length of the legs. For the top attached to the apron, you definately dont want to glue it to the apron (perimeter) instead use figure 8's for that.
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