Extension Table Leg Design Question

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  • #754578
    Fritz Walker
    Participant

    I’m currently designing and starting to build a walnut extension table for my daughter. I’m probably going to go with a fairly simple Shaker-style tapered leg. Alternatively, I may employ a curved leg, which I think is also called a saber leg, similar to the leg Paul Sellers employed in his recent dining table video (which is fantastic, if you haven’t watched it – so many invaluable tips for pulling off a large table project). This table will will be 84″ by 42″ closed, and extend to 120″.

    I’ve been looking on the internet at pictures of taper leg (and some saber leg) tables, and they almost all employ a square profile at the top of the leg where it joins the apron. However, one of the things I’m hoping to avoid is what feels to me to be in some cases an overly ‘blocky’ feel to the legs – on this particular project I want something a little more delicate than many of the shaker leg tables I’ve looked at. So I’m considering and have created a design in Sketchup where the profile will instead be rectangular – probably a profile of 2 3/4″ (70 mm) x 2″ (51 mm) at the top, tapering to 2″ (51 mm) x 1 1/4″ (32 mm) at the bottom. To my eye this looks nice in the drawings.

    What is giving me pause is that virtually everything I’ve seen in pictures is a square profile at the leg top. Is there something inherently wrong in my approach? Too structurally weak or whatever? Of course these legs will have to support quite a bit of weight. Is there some way to calculate what dimensions I’d need for the leg to be structurally sound? I plan to make the mortise and tenon joints for the leg and apron assembly about as thick as the apron will accommodate – about 5/8″ to 3/4″, and I’ll use draw bore construction to fortify the joint strength.

    I used the rectangular design aesthetic in the saber legs on this floating-and-live edge hall table I finished recently. But of course these legs don’t need to support all that much weight.

    Fritz Walker

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    #755897
    Jan Khmelnytsky
    Participant

    Unless you anticipate the legs being stressed primarily in the direction of the longer cross section, the table leg’s strength in the face of day-to-day use will generally be proportional to the width of the short cross section. As long as that is sufficiently sized, you should be fine. It begs the question though, would the table not look blocky if viewed head-on with the long sides of the rectangular legs presenting? Perhaps this is an advertisement for the usefulness of Paul’s recent video on full sized mock-ups.

    #755910
    Fritz Walker
    Participant

    Well, that’s a good question to ask Jan. But the much greater length of the side with the wide side of the rectangle it makes it look more proportional to my eye at least. I’ve made the legs at this point, but very carefully examined the first one I made to ensure I was happy with the look so in essence I did do a full size mock-up at least of the legs.

    Fritz Walker

    #755962
    Fritz Walker
    Participant

    Jan, I’ve searched for the Paul Sellers video you mentioned about building mock-ups, which I’d like to watch, but have been unable to find it. Could you provide a link?

    Fritz Walker

    #756047
    Jan Khmelnytsky
    Participant

    Hi Fritz, I was referring to the first episode of the “Sellers Home Dining Chair Series”. This felt like Paul’s most extensive (video) discussion of design to-date.

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