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Thread: Table leaf alignment: clips pins or pegs?

  1. #1

    Table leaf alignment: clips pins or pegs?

    Hi!
    I'm building a new dining table and I'm wondering if anyone has opinions about preferred method of table alignment.

    The three options I'm considering are:


    • Metal pins (like these from Lee Valley)
      Seem nice, are these "just better" than wood/plastic pegs?
    • Wood or plastic pegs (like these from Rockler)
      Every table I've ever seen uses these - so probably not BAD.
    • Undermount metal alignment clips (like these from Rockler)
      Seem very secure, easy to install, probably good at pulling warped leaves into alignment, might be annoying under the table and some of the reviews suggest they can be difficult to separate (which might be a plus?)

    The table is going to be a nice grade of 3/4" baltic birch furniture ply with a plastic laminate (formica) top and 4 steel hairpin legs (going for a sleek MCM look). Probably going to make 3 12" leaves to go in the middle. I think my biggest concern is probably controlling warping and ensuring that the table halves and leaves are all pulled into alignment when the table is pushed together. I feel comfortable installing any of the above-listed choices, if I go pins/pegs I'll probably make a drilling jig with drill bushings to get all the holes properly aligned.

    I'll probably be using the rockler steel extension slides under the table.

    Why should I choose one method over another? Anyone have experience with the metal pins or the undermounted clips?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Luke Hospadaruk View Post
    Hi!
    I'm building a new dining table and I'm wondering if anyone has opinions about preferred method of table alignment.

    The three options I'm considering are:


    • Metal pins (like these from Lee Valley)
      Seem nice, are these "just better" than wood/plastic pegs?
    • Wood or plastic pegs (like these from Rockler)
      Every table I've ever seen uses these - so probably not BAD.
    • Undermount metal alignment clips (like these from Rockler)
      Seem very secure, easy to install, probably good at pulling warped leaves into alignment, might be annoying under the table and some of the reviews suggest they can be difficult to separate (which might be a plus?)

    The table is going to be a nice grade of 3/4" baltic birch furniture ply with a plastic laminate (formica) top and 4 steel hairpin legs (going for a sleek MCM look). Probably going to make 3 12" leaves to go in the middle. I think my biggest concern is probably controlling warping and ensuring that the table halves and leaves are all pulled into alignment when the table is pushed together. I feel comfortable installing any of the above-listed choices, if I go pins/pegs I'll probably make a drilling jig with drill bushings to get all the holes properly aligned.

    I'll probably be using the rockler steel extension slides under the table.

    Why should I choose one method over another? Anyone have experience with the metal pins or the undermounted clips?

    Thanks!
    Call me old-fashioned, but I like wooden dowels for this. Cheap, effective, and very traditional. The formica, OTOH, weirds me out a little bit. Is this a potting table?

  3. #3
    Thanks for the feedback!

    The laminate is matching some other things going on in the (recently remodeled) kitchen - it'll have a look something like these: https://www.morlanduk.com/laminated-birch-ply-panels

  4. #4
    The most important thing to do to minimize warping is to laminate both surfaces; if you just laminate the top surface it will warp for sure. Doesn't have to be the exact same laminate on the bottom, but should be the same thickness to balance the forces. I think any of those options will work fine as long as they are placed precisely and the leaves and top stay relatively flat. A self centering dowel jig works well if you use dowels.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul F Franklin View Post
    The most important thing to do to minimize warping is to laminate both surfaces; if you just laminate the top surface it will warp for sure. Doesn't have to be the exact same laminate on the bottom, but should be the same thickness to balance the forces. I think any of those options will work fine as long as they are placed precisely and the leaves and top stay relatively flat.
    Exactly. I seldom work with plywood or laminates in actual furniture, and for the life of me I still can't figure out how to plane them flat if there is movement or warping. Maybe I'm just getting old.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Luke Hospadaruk View Post
    Hi!
    I'm building a new dining table and I'm wondering if anyone has opinions about preferred method of table alignment.

    The three options I'm considering are:


    • Metal pins (like these from Lee Valley)
      Seem nice, are these "just better" than wood/plastic pegs?
    • Wood or plastic pegs (like these from Rockler)
      Every table I've ever seen uses these - so probably not BAD.
    • Undermount metal alignment clips (like these from Rockler)
      Seem very secure, easy to install, probably good at pulling warped leaves into alignment, might be annoying under the table and some of the reviews suggest they can be difficult to separate (which might be a plus?)

    The table is going to be a nice grade of 3/4" baltic birch furniture ply with a plastic laminate (formica) top and 4 steel hairpin legs (going for a sleek MCM look). Probably going to make 3 12" leaves to go in the middle. I think my biggest concern is probably controlling warping and ensuring that the table halves and leaves are all pulled into alignment when the table is pushed together. I feel comfortable installing any of the above-listed choices, if I go pins/pegs I'll probably make a drilling jig with drill bushings to get all the holes properly aligned.

    I'll probably be using the rockler steel extension slides under the table.

    Why should I choose one method over another? Anyone have experience with the metal pins or the undermounted clips?

    Thanks!
    The type pins isn't as critical as getting the holes accurate. You might lay both sides of your top on a table with the leaves in it and draw a line across all the pieces. Then use an actual doweling jig to drill the holes. That way the pin holes are in line with both sides of the top and the leaves would be interchangeable.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Can you use those plastic biscuits over and over for table alignment? Wood ones will swell the compressed wood with moisture in the air and not be able to separate ever again.
    Bill D.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul F Franklin View Post
    The most important thing to do to minimize warping is to laminate both surfaces; if you just laminate the top surface it will warp for sure. Doesn't have to be the exact same laminate on the bottom, but should be the same thickness to balance the forces. I think any of those options will work fine as long as they are placed precisely and the leaves and top stay relatively flat. A self centering dowel jig works well if you use dowels.
    aahh good idea, I've got plenty of extra so that's no problem

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Dufour View Post
    Can you use those plastic biscuits over and over for table alignment? Wood ones will swell the compressed wood with moisture in the air and not be able to separate ever again.
    Bill D.
    It's very rare for wooden table pins to swell. I think after working on probably a 1000 antique tables I've only had to sand the pins on one or two tables. Then it was only a 5 minute project. If I were to use another type pin other than wood I would use the metal pins. What few table I've seen with plastic pins there was issues with them staying in.

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