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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife has asked for an extremely solid table framed up with 4x4 timber with a 100+Lb butcher block top. I'm attempting to design a frame without any metal fixtures that could withstand a flying drop-kick.

So far this is the only design for the table frame she's approved, so I'm putting it up here to get some more experienced woodworkers to take a look at it and give me an idea of how solid it's liable to be and whether there are some modifications I can make to make it sturdier.

Assume all joints will be tight and glued. Please take a look and comment.
 

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Looks like a solid design to me. Especially if you're gluing and screwing it like the picture (and your post) indicates. It's going to be incredibly heavy with 4x4 frames. You could probably get away with 2x2 but 3x3 is definitely an option.
 

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Add a center post (just in case) and you should be good to go. Since you half-lapped the diagonals they are only half as strong, with the center the weakest point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've heard a similar range of responses from my family and friends, some say it's overbuilt, some say it's potentially underbuilt. I'm not sure which I buy.

Additional facts that might help bring the feedback to one side:

The span of the frame is about 59.25"
It will be made of cedar.
The slim cylinders shown in the diagram represent 1/2" dowels not screws.
I will be floating the table top.
I will be adding small foot stubs under the frame to help with leveling.
 

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I don't believe the dowels are adding anything to the sliding dovetailed tenons since there are no forces that would be acting to lift the top cross pieces up or the posts (legs) up. The butcher block top will on its own spread a significant portion of its weight to the posts (legs) and the cross pieces should be plenty to handle the rest. If anything, I think you can reduce the dimensions to something smaller as Frankp suggests to get a lighter look. Mic you are going for a massive look, I think you have it!

You may also think about moving the cross pieces up the legs a little so it is possible to sweep under the table and only have four points of contact with the floor.
 

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where's my table saw?
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
First, I've attached a redesign at the bottom of this post in response to the received advice, take a look. Now on to responses:

It's going to be incredibly heavy with 4x4 frames. You could probably get away with 2x2 but 3x3 is definitely an option.
I'm certain I could get away with 3x3s, 2x2s is even conceivable were it not for the 7 year old yellow belt with a temper. Anyway it's moot as I ran a reduction by the wife and she's against reducing it's size. I think she'd have me make it of 6x6's if the possibility would occur to her. Let's hope it doesn't

I don't believe the dowels are adding anything to the sliding dovetailed tenons since there are no forces that would be acting to lift the top cross pieces up or the posts (legs) up. …. You may also think about moving the cross pieces up the legs a little so it is possible to sweep under the table and only have four points of contact with the floor.
I thought about it, you're right about the dowels. I was thinking something that now seems a bit insane in retrospect, and I've removed them from the design. As for raising the cross pieces up the legs, I thought hell and just decided to lazy my way out and glue up some blocks over each bottom joint. What do you think?

There are many ways to make the leg to frame connection rigid. Metal brackets, ruled out here... or these "trick" wooden braces

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f2/leg-brace-alternative-method-challenge-33352/
Ridiculously interesting.

The design as you have it appears to be more than adequate IMO. If you elevate the bottom cross stretchers would likely call for different joinery near the bottom of the legs.]
As you can see in the revised diagram below, I'm inclined to try to keep the joinery I've got and just glue on some feet. Thoughts?
 

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I think the blocks are an easy solution to C-man's cogent comment about the need for different joinery if you move the cross stretchers up. You would be gluing end grain which is not very strong so, this would be a place to use the dowelling.
 

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Chairman of the 'Board
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Perhaps you can allow an inch of dovetail for the bottom pads by removing an inch off of the legs. They won't look as much as a last minute add on, but a part of the overall design.
 

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I agree with 4DThinker and frank p. A center post would make your design a "TANK" and 2 1/2" to 3" posts and cross members would be Way more than adequate to support more than a 500# load.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Perhaps you can allow an inch of dovetail for the bottom pads by removing an inch off of the legs. They won't look as much as a last minute add on, but a part of the overall design.
That's interesting Doc. I was thinking about that issue myself and came up with three basic solutions:

1. Change the joinery on the bottom cross members.
The only type of joint I would be satisfied with strength wise sans hardware that maintains the look of the legs other than the dovetailed ends would be a hidden foxtail dovetailed tenon. I am REALLY not confident that I could execute this joint.

2. Your solution, to shorten the legs so as to expose and inch or two of dovetail on the cross member into which I could fit a dovetailed foot.
This solution is better than #1 in that I could actually execute it, and with the seam being thereby raised to a point between the bottom and top of the lower cross member it would look more 'planned'. However the seam would still be there, making us all angry, so there's solution #3.

3. Maintain the bottom joinery, but extend the legs and its dovetailed cross section down 3.5 inches, then fit a 3.5 inch dovetailed part to complete the square for that section on the leg.
We would still have a seam in the case but it would be along the grain rather than through and it would line up with the cross member joinery and for those reasons it would be less noticeable.

What do you think of this solution? Can anyone offer another idea?
 

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I had also thought of number three, but words failed me in being able to describe it. I like that the best. You could even use a bit of contrasting wood to make people go "Hmnnnn?"
 

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where's my table saw?
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How how do you intend to make the dovetails?

Since this design is "all about" the joinery, I'm wondering your methods and possibly a note on your experience with hand tools.
Picking this design right out of the gate would imply you are not intimidated by the joinery.... and possibly have some prior experience? :blink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Since this design is "all about" the joinery, I'm wondering your methods and possibly a note on your experience with hand tools.
Picking this design right out of the gate would imply you are not intimidated by the joinery.... and possibly have some prior experience? :blink:
I have extensive power-tool based woodworking experience, but I plan to do this entire project from start to finish using only hand tools. I've done a number of dovetailed boxes with saw, chisel and plane, and I've developed a method that I'm confident in, enough so that these joints don't seem out of reach.

However I don't plan to jump right into this build as my hand tool background is weak. Because of the cost committment of this build and of mistakes doing it, I plan to work my way through two end tables and an entertainment center with similar but scaled down designs, to work out the kinks in my methods on a less costly scale before I attack this beast.

This is why I'm trying to settle this design in, so that I can do others to work towards it. I project this as a 12 month process at least.

Seem reasonable?
 

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where's my table saw?
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I figured that!

Hand tools would be your choice. :yes: You should really get this book even in paperback, it's great!
The Art Of Japanese Joinery: Kiyosi Seike: 9780834815162: Amazon.com: Books

Their joinery is amazing, way beyond my abilities, but you may benefit from the photos.... good luck on this project and please post any build photos on the progress. :smile:

As an aside, your choice of tools may also benefit from the Japanese influence. When I was there 10 years ago, I walked into a little shop with a dusty collection of slicks, mortising chisels, and gouges. What a steal as the prices marked were 10 years old and the total sale made the older ladies day. Their laminated steel is remarkable for holding an edge. www.japanwoodworker.com
 

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I don't see anything wrong with the design. I do see a nightmare cutting the joints. A doweled through tenon would be very attractive for the cross members and very sturdy. I would stay with the 4x4 plan as with your design the 4x4 is more aesthetically pleasing than using something not square for the frame.
 

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Wood Snob
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I can see only one big problem. You and your wife are going to hate it if you don't elevate the bottom cross brace high enough to clean under and around it. I don't see much advantage to using the dove tail on the lower cross brace. A wedged tenon would be better for the application and stronger.

Al

Friends don't let friends use stamped metal tools sold at clothing stores.
 

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