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Thread: Metal Leg Width for Live Edge Desk

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Rockingham, Virginia

    Metal Leg Width for Live Edge Desk

    My son has requested I build a live edge desk from a nice piece of high character walnut we got from Black Forest Sawmill in Crimona VA (only about 18 deep). He wants it to put his laptop and video screens on to work when he is home. It will be 60 long and 28 high. I am wondering if you all feel 14 wide metal legs (like those sold at Rockler and Amazon - kind of rectangular in shape) will be stable enough for what we want to do. (The slab will be more than 1.6 thick.). I notice folks sometimes push on desks as they stand up, etc. (Or, would triple pin legs be a better choice??). We have already started sanding the top and it will be doing a bit of epoxy work and oil work, so we are on the way.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    I suggest you consider using a sit/stand base to provide him more flexibility in height. My own natural edge cherry desk is now equipped that way and I love it. I used this base...someone else recently posted desk project in Woodworking Projects that used the same base.

    And a base that's only 14" wide isn't generally going to be stable enough for a typical desk unless it's a very narrow onw.

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    14" seems pretty narrow to me. You might look around Etsy. There are quite a few shops offering welded legs, with a variety of dimensions.

    The other issue is how tall your legs should be. For a desk with a keyboard or laptop sitting on it, I like a top surface which is 28" above the floor. Subtract your top's thickness, and you'd be wanting legs which are 26.4" tall. A downside of buying prefab steel legs is that they're not easy to cut down.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Fairbanks AK
    Welcome to my rabbit hole, :smiley:.

    I am setting up to build ergonomically correct work stations to get beer money in retirement. 28 inches is not an unreasonable height for a sofa table or dining table or a work table. 30 inches is more typical, but 28 is close enough.

    My current path is to build work tables at 30", and then put monitor stands under the electronics to get them to the correct ergonomic height for the user. I am so disgusted with keyboard drawer slides I am building separate keyboard tray tables so the work table/ desk etc is unbesmirched by cheap junk hardware, thus the original owner's grandchild can have a nice table and make their own monitor stand out of an Amazon box, or use it as a sofa table.

    For the table legs themselves, I haven't fooled with live edge at all, and I haven't fooled with metal legs. What I have found is I want the feet at the end of the legs directly under the corners of the table top. I want those feet as far out there towards the corners as I can get them without creating a tripping hazard. There is a tiny little bit of trigonometry involved, but it is a basic right triangle. I like minimum six degrees slope on the legs, it looks OK and is as much leg room as I can get under the traytables for kb/mouse while still making stout joinery. Taking the leg slope up to 12-15 degrees can give a little added stability - it feels like- and more than adequate room for stout joints, and still look OK, but it gets hard for big people to get their legs under the keyboard when the kb/ mouse tray table is one keyboard wide.

    Pic is a scale model of a standard 30" tall table about 50" wide with the legs sloped at 16 degrees, and a double width tray table for kb/mouse so the user could have two kb/mouse setups side by side. Like someone who has an Apple system and a PC on the table above. Slope on the traytable legs is 15 degrees.

    If you have something big and heavy and permanent in the middle of a table, like a printer or a couple cinder blocks, you can start pulling the feet back in under the table. Floors in new construction feel like bouncy houses to me, and they aren't getting stiffer. A good reason to stick the feet out as far as you dare towards the corners is to avoid eye strain from the monitors shaking everytime someone else in the house flushes a toilet or runs the dishwasher.

    Best wishes and good luck.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Madison, Wisconsin
    I have made several natural/square edge tables/benches. I generally weld up my own legs, but have also purchased. IMHO, sizing the leg to sit back at least an inch from the edge looks good. A 1-1/2" to 2" set back is good for a larger table. See examples below( not sure why one photo is flipped)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Dickinson, Texas
    Blog Entries
    I would make experimental samples from pine to see what suited me and then make the real thing.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Arlington, TX
    14" deep legs are only going to be 4" less deep than the 18" top, or 2" front & back. That seems OK, but the legs would be better if splayed wider (deeper).

    I'm more concerned about the 18" deep top not being deep enough for laptop plus monitors, etc. and have sufficient room and stability.

    Have you mocked this size top up, say on a bigger table, with his laptop and monitors, etc. to see how it would work?

    And is this desk going to be backed up against a wall? I don't think that would provide sufficient leg/foot space if up against a wall.

    If he has a docking station, and separate keyboard for the desk (perhaps on a pull-out shelf below) it might be OK, but then I'd be a little more worried about the legs providing a stable base with the keyboard/mouse on a pulled-out shelf.

    Again, creating a mock-up seems to be especially warranted.

    To me, beautiful figure should be on a surface intended to be displayed, not covered up with a computer.

    Of course, all this advice is worth exactly what you paid for it...

    -- Andy - Arlington TX

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