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I live in an apartment in a big city and have no access to proper outdoor space or a shop, but I want to build a simple, big table as easily as possible. My plan is:

However, I don't know if my idea will be sturdy enough. I have the space and really want at least a 7 ft. table. Are these legs good enough? Will the table bow in the middle? Where should I put the legs? In general, what are the rules of thumb for building a solid table? My fear is ordering all the parts, putting it together, and realizing it wobbles or sags in the middle.

  • Not sure this is, you know, woodworking. But, just check similar offerings from Ikea. They usually sell larger area tables like this with an "apron" to stiffen the top. It'll probably be ok, but depending on how you use it, it might sag, yes. But, I'm not sure this is really on topic for WW.SE. – jdv Jun 12 at 1:25
  • Thanks for the suggestion. If the legs were made of wood, would this be a WW.SE question? Or is the issue asking about a design? – gwg Jun 12 at 12:48
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    Hint: make a scale model of your table and push it from the sides as well as from the top. It will probably fold in easily from at least one direction. But it really depends on the construction details. – jdv Jun 12 at 14:27
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    "Will the table bow in the middle?" Unlikely! This sort of thing is hugely stiff (because of its thickness, as well as some contribution from the manner of construction) so with typical expected loads you can expect zero sag. I mean literally zero. – Graphus Jun 13 at 9:38
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    "What are the rules of thumb for building a solid table?" Go table shopping. Not to buy one, but to look at them. (Tell the sales drone you're just looking, 'cause that's all you'll be doing!) Look at the varieties of designs - where do they put the legs; how are the tops attached; how are skirt-boards attached; what are the differences between tops with/without skirt boards. Get down on your hands and knees. Look underneath. Take pictures. Take measurements. – FreeMan Jun 16 at 16:18
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If I had my heart set on using the 3'x 8' birch top from Home Depot and the steel legs from Etsy, I would get two sets of legs and mount them at right angles to each other as shown in the drawing.

enter image description here

I have placed the legs as near the ends as possible, but you could place them any distance apart, depending on your aesthetic desires. Of course they should be placed symmetrically and nearer to the table ends than to the table center.

This table will be stable in any direction, and will not sag under its own weight, but, of course, this does not mean that its capacity is unlimited. If a two-hundred-pounder were to decide to sit in the middle of table, a sag could be noted by a critical eye, but it would not be in danger of breaking.

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