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Advice for conoid table - tightening up joints

gbarron1's picture

I'm almost finished with the base of a maple conoid table. I'm pretty happy with the results but the joints are a little loose, at the leg / bottom stretcher joint - one front to back, the other left to righ.  I'm thinking of hand cutting shims from and gluing up.  Will this provide enogh stability? I'd prefer not to start over. This is heavy lumber and I've got a mediocre tablesaw.  Getting it this close was a challenge.

Also, seeing other conoid knockoffs as well as Nakashima's, the bottom stretcher in many seems to be just a hair of the ground with only the feet serving as the base.  And the "feet" generally have all but a few inches on each end routed out of the bottom, creating 4 feet.    I'd appreciate any advice on whether these are both necessary for greater stability or a matter of personal preference.


Thanks a lot,

RalphBarker's picture

Shims (post #170537, reply #1 of 4)

As I'm understanding your issue, it sounds similar to loose M&T joints and others where the original cuts were a bit off.

Thin shims cut from the same type of stock and properly glued to the surface, and then trimmed to a tight fit, is likely to be stronger than the original surface. Thus, you should be OK, stability-wise.

It seems to me that trimming the bottom edge of the leg structure to create feet may be the best way to get around the issue of having a perfectly flat floor. The "trim" can be very subtle, so it doesn't affect the visual appeal. Testing the intended floor area with a long straight edge may be helpful in determining how subtle you can go with the feet.

gbarron1's picture

Thanks for the advice, Ralph. (post #170537, reply #2 of 4)

Thanks for the advice, Ralph. Very helpful. Onto the next question.


I finally found a pic of the underside of one of Nakashima's conoid tables.  Judging from the holes in the pic, the top seems to be simply screwed on.  I'd have thought that with no skirt, this would risk racking.  I was thinking of running two stretchers, using bridle joints to attach the stretchers to the cross pieces at the top of the legs as in the second link below.  Any thoughts?

RalphBarker's picture

Racking and stretch(er)ing (post #170537, reply #3 of 4)

From my days as a subcontractor for the Spanish during The Inquisition, I seem to recall that racking and stretching were about the same.  ;-)

In the first design (the liveauctioneers link), all of the stress of weight/pressure on the long edge of the table is borne by the bridle joint between the cross piece and the central leg. The top stretchers in the second design (the christies link) adds support along the center of the top, potentially allowing for a thinner top, but still places all of the stress on the central bridle joint.

What is not clear from the photographs, however, is whether the cross-piece/leg joint is a simple bridle hoint, or something more complex. Tongues on both interior sides of the leg section of the joint, for example, would add long-grain strength to resist racking forces, as opposed to relying solely on the strength of the face-grain-to-face-grain glue joint. Such a more-complex, but hidden, design of the joint would be consistent with the spirit of Japanese temple joinery, I think.

MBegnaud's picture

Hey gbarron1, I'm about to go (post #170537, reply #4 of 4)

Hey gbarron1, I'm about to go down the same road you did.  I'm pretty new to woodworking, and I just picked up a couple of ambrosia maple slabs to build a conoid knockoff (the slabs look like they're going to have a ton of curl, so that's cool).  I'm trying to get my design down, and I wondered where you looked to get inspiration and ideas for construction and joinery.  Also, what size wood did you use for the base: the bottom stretcher, the legs, the feet, and the cross braces mounted under the top?  I'd love to read more about how the process is going for you.