above: on the seat side after shaping and finishing the front leg, in black walnut

chair leg joint

This is a double shouldered bridle joint (also called a Sam Maloof chair joint). After fitting and gluing the joint, 3”x 3/8" steel dowels (sheet metal screws) are driven into the joint and the heads are plugged.  These pictures are of 4 different chairs, 2 in cherry and 2 in black walnut.

above: This is both legs attached but "in the rough", unfaired and still square.

when finished, this joint is exposed and yet disappears, curving gracefully into the seat surface. also of note in this picture is the lines that carry from the legs into the arm.

shouldered and wedged through tenons


below:  the joint before assembly - the shoulder adds another whole set of bearing surfaces.



The top

A solid wood tabletop (this one is over 30 in. across the grain) will expand and contract almost 1/2" seasonally.  To accommodate this movement and hold the top down flat, I use a sliding dovetail on a cross rail that, in this case, is screwed down to the pedestal base.

On this walnut table I used a single bolt in the center to hold the top to the legs. The nut is captured between the 2 halves of the top. The legs are free to move with the top and are located with a mortise in the table top and tenon on the top of the leg.

The legs

To carry the weight of a loaded table to the floor without splitting this leg joint requires some heavy reinforcement.  With both the pedestal table (above) and the trestle table (left) I use pinned tenons at the top of the joint and a hardwood strip let into the leg (illustrated above) with #12 screws in each end. 

captured trestle

For a trestle table (above left in white oak and at left in red grandis) I capture the trestle in a shouldered slot made in the legs.  The slot is slightly longer than the trestle width to accomodate seasonal movement.


















When a leg or post joint terminates at a right angle I will inevitably use this joint.  At left, in a mother's (armless) rocking chair in hard maple.









to carry the stresses on a piece without stretchers, I started putting an interior shoulder  at the end of my wedged through tenons.







When a joint is made at the end of two wider boards and the joint needs to be strong, the dovetail joint is the best.