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Thread: Table base design for a heavy patio table

  1. #1

    Table base design for a heavy patio table

    I've built a 76" x 37" patio table top out of Ipe wood. Super heavy stuff...the table top must weigh well north of 120 pounds!

    Now I need to make a base. I guess I'm leaning towards good ole' leg&apron due to ease-of-construction and practicality. Plus water from the slats won't collect anywhere since the base is all around the perimeter

    Any thoughts as to whether an Apron of 3" high work with legs that are 2 5/8" square?

    The Ipe wood I get comes pre-milled in 5.5" widths (and is 5/4...probably probably closer to 1" milled). I'd save wood by doing an Apron that is only 2 5/8" tall, but I figure that might not be good enough. So I bought enough wood to use up to the full 5.5" width of a board...so perhaps a 3" tall apron? For Legs, I was hoping to do glue-ups and use the full 5.5" width of the board thus making each leg about 2 5/8" square. I gotta imagine the strength/rigidity is going to come from the apron and that these Ipe legs will be plenty stout.

    I was considering a knock-down trestle table (perhaps like https://offermanwoodshop.com/store/h...-dining-table/), but I don't like how water would pool under the slats but above the supports and there are leg room issues. I plan on seating 3 on each side and none on the ends.

    IMG_20190623_122046.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona
    Posts
    288
    I wasn't sure what "Ipe" was - I had to "google" it to find out.
    David

    https://www.terramai.com/blog/ipe-en...urcing-issues/


    Ipe.jpg

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by David Buchhauser View Post
    I wasn't sure what "Ipe" was - I had to "google" it to find out.
    David

    https://www.terramai.com/blog/ipe-en...urcing-issues/


    Ipe.jpg

    Huh. Well my local wood wholesaler said this was the best, most durable wood to use for my patio table. Wood's already purchased. Also my local high-end patio furniture store sells several Ipe furniture products, so they're probably the ones that should be mindful of environmental sourcing issues compared to the weekend warrior like myself.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona
    Posts
    288
    Hi Roger,
    I wasn't preaching - that's just the first Goggle search that I found. I would personally have no problem using it if Home Depot sells it and I needed it for an outdoor project.
    David

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Houston
    Posts
    129
    That top looks nice.

    I can’t add much regarding the engineering, but when I was researching Ipe for a deck, it seemed really hard and strong. I never saw anything about sustainability at the time.

    Maybe you could have curved apron pieces on the long sides, so that you get maximum width at the leg joints and slimmer in the middle.

    i would draw it in sketchup to make sure the base looks right in terms of dimensions, and would also want to make sure that with whatever chairs you are going to use you don’t have your knees hit the apron.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    6,006
    I built a deck out of Ipe' about 5 years ago. It's been a real bear to keep it looking good. Good thing you are only making a table.

    As regards your design approach, I wouldn't face laminate stock to get the thickness you need for the legs. Ipe' and glue aren't the best of friends. It would definitely be better to use full thickness stock, even if it is outrageously expensive, or change the design to use the stock you have w/o face laminating it. Or use an alternative wood for the base? Sapele, African mahogany, Spanish cedar, redwood.

    John

  7. #7
    I would re-consider the pedestal approach. With a high stretcher you end up with great leg room. Your trestles could support the boxed frame you have built and not the inset boards, so you would essentially have 4 pads of contact. The center of the trestle supports could be shaped to shed water as will your stretcher. I recently finished a 35x84 pedestal DR table for my daughter based on a Christopher Schwarz design from the Fall 06, Woodworking Magazine. That table is stout, stable and the grands love the open base for their forts. I think it could work out for you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    553
    I do think as woodworkers we have to consider where the lumber we use comes from.
    Ipe is such an incredibly hard wood, and is sold in such long straight boards, that I grew concerned about the effects of the evidently extensive harvesting of these trees across the tropical rainforest. It's sold in every lumber yard around where I live, and I see it going up as siding on super trendy modern houses, and as decking everywhere.

    Unless it's maintained with annual sanding and finishing, it grays out, and from a distance looks like any other wood. Ipe has an initial wow factor, and I'm sure a patio table will be beautiful for years to come. But I think for sure within my lifetime this wood will be so over-harvested it will become protected.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    I built a deck out of Ipe' about 5 years ago. It's been a real bear to keep it looking good. Good thing you are only making a table.

    As regards your design approach, I wouldn't face laminate stock to get the thickness you need for the legs. Ipe' and glue aren't the best of friends. It would definitely be better to use full thickness stock, even if it is outrageously expensive, or change the design to use the stock you have w/o face laminating it. Or use an alternative wood for the base? Sapele, African mahogany, Spanish cedar, redwood.

    John
    My Ipe stock is 5/4. I'd have to laminate and was planning on West Systems Epoxy. Otherwise I also have 8/4 white oak on hand, but I don't think it would hold up to the outdoors like Ipe.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    710
    Hi Roger
    Tables, chairs, stools etc get some abuse. One dining table I built failed when the owner and his girlfriend.....well they were not injured. Your concern about supporting a 120 pound top should be way below your design threshold. That said, 2 5/8 square legs can be plenty strong, the joinery is the key. Four legs connected with aprons can work well if you use mortices and tenons but 3" x 1" is kinda weak. Making the side aprons taller will interfere with the sitter's legs but the problem is only with the joint to the legs so just widen them to 5" at the joints. Making the end aprons taller should not be a problem because they will not normally interfere with sitters legs so 5" wide should be ok.

    Test the epoxy with scraps. Glue up some 1 x 1/2 into 1 x 1 x 12". Soak in a bucket overnight then bend till it breaks. You will know then.

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