Dovetail the tenons. No clamps required. Done correctly, no glue required.
Unless you really lick the smell of hot hide glue.
A quick & dirty way would be to make a square tenon, leave a shoulder on the
legs, and clamp with a strap clamp, then cut off the shoulders afterward.
But you'll always think less of yourself for not using the correct dovetail
tenon for the job.
I think you're right, but my brain keeps wanting to call them dovetail
tenons. I'm checking Osburns book "Measured Drawings of Early American
Furniture" - I think he shows some tables like this and lets see what he
calls the joint...
... OK he has a drawing on page 30 of a "tripod teakettle stand" using the
joint in question...I'll check the text...
...hmmm... he doesn't say; he just calls them dovetails. He also draws a
section of the joint showing no flats on the column where the legs attach,
and the shoulders cut to match. It seems to me this would be an easier way
to get a really snug fit - by making the edges of the leg at the dovetail a
little proud, they would compress into the column and be supper snug.
Any rate, I'm sure sliding dovetail is the common modern term for the joint,
but hopefully I can be forgiven for insisting on thinking of it as a
They had a similiar table plan in Woodcraft magazine. The guy ended up
making "male" dovetails" at the end of the legs.. basically like
tenons. On the center column (which was round from being turned on a
lathe), he flattened three areas and made the female part of the
dovetail (mortise).. Therefore, he could just slide them in.
Another option would be to use a band clamp. Bessey makes a nice one,
but you'd still probably want some kind of tenon or fastener to hold
the leg in place while you're tightening the band.
As others have responded a sliding dovetail is the traditional
method used. If you have already cut mortise & tenons or used
dowels then one way would be to clamp an auxillliary piece
of wood to one face of each leg so it extends above and below
the joint. Then use 2 band clamps, one above and one below
I have made one of these. I used sliding dovetails. To make the
mortises I built a custom sled for my lathe to hold a router with a
dovetail bit. My lathe has an index pin that makes a perfect 120
degree rotation. You want a snug, but not too tight, fit. The glue
holds it together well. I did not use any clamps. Traditionally, an
underside circular metal plate with three arms would be screwed in but
that's not necessary with today's super-strong glues. BTW, if you
taper the sides of the legs you'll get a better, more delicate look. I
did my tapering on the jointer but you could use a belt sander.
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