I'm planning on building a smallish coffee table, maybe 24"x50,"
with a wood framed glass top. The frame will be figured QS white oak
(QSWO) approx. 1" thick and about 3-3.5" wide. Normally, I would use
mortise and tenon joints to form the frame but for aesthetic reasons I
was thinking of forming the joints with either through or half blind
dovetails so that you could see the dovetails from above. However, I
worry about seasonal wood movement loosening the joints even with QSWO.
Just for fun, I made a square coffee table around 30" on a side which
used ALL handcut dovetail joints. The legs were made by dovetailing
1x3 boards. The apron attached to the legs with dovetails, and the
outside frame of the tabletop (it had a glass center) was done with
dovetails. I had to add some hidden extra bracing so strengthen the
joint between the legs and the apron, but otherwise it's been very
sturdy. The joints in the frame of the tabletop look great all year
Unfortunately, I haven't taken any pictures specifically of the table.
I do have a few pics online where you can at least see it though. If
you click on the one with the cat, and select "All Sizes" above the
picture, you can see a high resolution version where you can see the
dovetails in the tabletop a little bit.
It's not seasonal movement I'd be worried about. If I understand you
correctly on the long side of the table you'd have the grain running
perpendicular to the joint. It'd be real easy to shear off the
pins/tails on that side without the grain running parallel. I would
suggest doing a pegged M&T. Maybe you could even inlay over the pegs
with tail shaped pieces that would sort of look like dovetails.
Your right, that was not a well thought out idea. I think that half
blind dovetails might would work better but there would still be a good
chance of sheering off either the pins or tails. Well, back to the
drawing board. Your inlay idea would accomplish my "look" without the
perpendicular joint problem.
I did one that I used inlayed dovetails to join all four corners of the
apron. Then I attached the legs to an inner apron via mortise and
tenon joints. The outside rim of the table hides the fact that there
are two aprons and it provides a stable attachment for the legs and as
an added bonus eliminates the stress that would shear your dovetails
that the other posters are talking about. It's two years old and I
haven't had any sign of the joints loosening due to seasonal wood
movement. Hope that helps. bc
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.