Safety factors

Ellis Walentine
I'm having some trouble understanding your drawings, Derek. You said the legs will be round, but the plan view shows half-round legs aside the case and the elevation doesn't show a round leg notched at the case intersection to make a half-round overlay. So are they actually half round? A vertical elevation section of the joinery would help.

I think a well executed loose tenon between leg and case -- all long grain contacts -- would be strong enough with only glue; I wouldn't bother with pins and wedges, which, if the glue fails would only serve to split the leg or the case. That said, your question about stretchers reflects concern that the table will rack, perhaps to a breaking point, if Uncle Festus falls against one end or sits on it and moves around, which could strain the joint to the breaking point. It could be just accidentally dropping one end while moving it -- anything really -- that you want to guard against.

There's no doubt that well engineered stretchers (high profile, shoulders around) would add a measure of confidence that the table won't be destroyed if something untoward happens. This begs the question of safety factors and risks.
If you're confident that the table will have a sheltered life, you don't need to err as much on the side of safety.

Torpedo-type legs have survived nicely on Ruhlmann pieces and many contemporary designs, so they should be fine for your table, provided the wood species is strong enough to realize the full potential of the joinery and that you don't subject the piece to outrageous racking forces.


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