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Right Triangle Coffee Table

SenorDorado's picture

Right Triangle Coffee Table (post #170880)

 I'm designing an oak coffe table for a client that is shaped as a righht triangle. Both of the legs are 66" long and the hypotenuse is just under 8'. The table is supported with 18" long x 3" square legs in each corner. The rails will be tied into the legs with mortise and tenon joinery, and the legs will also be supported with angled corner blocks that are screwed into the rails with pocket screws. 

My question is do I need to install yet a 4th leg midway along the length of the hypotenuse? I would think that if someone would sit on that edge the table may tilt.


  Senor Dorado

RalphBarker's picture

tilting at coffee tables (post #170880, reply #1 of 3)

The tilt factor is more of a function of the distance between the edge and the rails/legs. A fourth, mid-span leg isn't going to change that. In my view, the design question is whether the rail is strong enough to support the anticipated load across that distance. Answering that requires a definition of "anticipated load". Should that be 180 pounds? 250 pounds? 400 pounds? You might ask the client how much his/her heaviest friend weighs.

You might decide to use two parallel rails along the long side, perhaps interconnected in some way, to provide sufficient support across that long span. You might also consider moving the legs in from those corners by a foot or so, even though convention would put the legs at the corners. Design-wise, there is also the question of support across the middle of the table. What happens, for example, if that 400# friend decides to get up on the middle of the table to do a dance at a party?  ;-)

acornw's picture

Design for 3 Adults, Dancing (post #170880, reply #2 of 3)

I will digress:

I once had a client that was a self-described playboy - lavish everything - and parties where he would import Playboy Bunnies to mingle and such.

I never actually worked directly with the client, but did all our work thru his designer. She would send drawings, we would build, etc.

So I get a call one day about two stainless low table frames that are to be delivered to our shop to have the glass tops replaced with wood tops. I asked the designer what she wanted for the tops. Her answer was it needed to be stronger than the thick glass, since it broke.

We made new tops out of 1-3/4" Wenge, tapered the edges so they looked more like 1/2" thick and sent them back. She was delighted, then told me the rest of the story.

The glass table tops broke while 2 Playmates were dancing with a rather large party guest, sending everyone crashing into a heap. Fortunatley, no one was injured. Especially so since it  was the local District Attorney that was doing the - er - dancing - with the Playmates.

Sidebar: The client was later indicted for stealing 250 million from investors. He was just convicted and got 54 years of the possible 250. The tables, and all our other work, all went to auction. 

RalphBarker's picture

Great story (post #170880, reply #3 of 3)

Never underestimate the value of proper engineering, which includes anticipating the unexpected, eh?

Tacoma bridge engineer: "Wait, no one said anything about wind."  ;-)