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Hopefully this is the right exchange for this.

Recently I started a DIY desk project in which my goal was to build a ~8ft long desk that could support a large load (~150-200lbs).

This desk would serve mainly as a place to setup all of my computers for gaming as well as double as an office space for work.

I bought an unfinished solid birch butcher block counter top from Home Depot measuring 98" x 25" x 1.5"

I finished this by hand sanding with 220 grit and applying three coats of Minwax wipe on water based poly, sanding in between coats 1 and 2.

It came out perfectly and I was quite pleased given it was my first time doing anything like this.

finished table

My next step was to find a decent frame that could hold the weight and also support the middle of the table since I had concerns it might sag over time and a 5th leg kind of felt odd.

I decided to take a gamble and buy a Simplified Building Z-Frame Table Kit. My thoughts here were that it could support the center and obviously handle a ton of weight. Being galvanized pipe I also figured I should be fine using it outside if I ever wanted to replace the table top and convert it to an outside table in the future.

When I ordered this kit I provided the dimensions requested and defined a height at 29" (ideal for my physical height)

invoice

The kit came in and was easy to assemble, however I am now stuck as it appears the legs don't actually align properly to the corners

kit misalignment

I can't seem to figure it out given that the documentation matches what I have, but images they provide have a perspective that show the legs aligned to the corners.

I have two questions really:

  • If I were to fasten this right where it is, will I have any sort of structural/balance issues?
  • Is there something I am missing regarding this frame kit or a Z-Frame in general that might be impacting my ability to align these? I have not reached out to Simplified Building yet, but visibly its not obvious to me that there is a pipe length issue

Any help is appreciated!

UPDATE

I received a response from Simplified Building, it turns out that the dimensions of my table break their formula for the Z-Frame.

They also described what was mentioned by @Graphus: move the depth legs further down the length pipe. It turns out the width of my table would require the fittings to overlap around 1.5".

Z-Frame Problem

They suggested that I convert this to an H-Frame and sent me new pipe. This also had the added benefit of providing more leg space, something I didn't think about, but some folks mentioned might become an issue, so I lucked out there!

Finished Desk 1 Finished Desk 2 Finished Desk 3

  • It's fine. Just build it. – jdv Sep 24 at 2:03
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    Just so you know, if you attach that top to those legs and there's zero play in the metalwork you are likely to experience problems down the line. This is a solid-wood top, and as with all solid wood it will expand and contract (across the width) with seasonal changes in humidity and temp — same thing that causes drawers to stick sometimes, but not others. – Graphus Sep 24 at 6:06
  • I would strongly recommend following up with the vendor to ensure that this is how it was supposed to be done. I took a look at the link you provided and I note that none of the product spec pics show the base square on, so it's impossible to tell if those end legs are supposed to line up. Also, the "other customer" pics show a totally different base design so aren't applicable. – FreeMan Sep 24 at 13:49
  • I do not like the diagonal design of the cross brace for a desk, as it will interfere with your knee's on one end. You could easily reconfigure it a couple of ways to have a straight cross brace along the back side, or slightly off set to the back, by changing your fittings around. This would bring the side legs into alignment. – Alaska Man Sep 26 at 18:45
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    Really the only way for screws to allow for movement is if they can literally move side to side (while remaining tight in the wood). This is normally accomplished by them being in oversize holes (for a wide table they have to be lots oversize, making washers necessary), in slots oriented the correct way, or being fastened through something like the traditional wooden 'button' that itself is capable of moving. Backing the screws out just makes it more likely they'll wallow out their holes in due course. You don't have to worry about this now or even soon, but it could eventually be an issue. – Graphus Oct 1 at 6:31
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If I were to fasten this right where it is, will I have any sort of structural/balance issues?

Nope. If the table were much smaller it might, but the wide stance of your table means even the two legs well in from the corners aren't going to impact stability in any way you'd notice.

Is there something I am missing regarding this frame kit or a Z-Frame in general that might be impacting my ability to align these?

It's not clear if the position of any of the connectors is variable or fixed. If it is variable you could try moving T-connector for the "outrigger" legs' right out as far as they will go on the long pipe. A quick back-of-an-envelope sketch suggests to me that this won't quite do enough, but this sort of thing is hard to do visualise without actually drawing it accurately. So if there is adjustability doing this is worth a try.


You didn't ask about this but I wanted to include a note on it.

My next step was to find a decent frame that could hold the weight and also support the middle of the table since I had concerns it might sag over time and a 5th leg kind of felt odd.

For future reference, Woodbin's The Sagulator will be your friend.

Do realise this is based on textbook values (and all wood varies, all the time) but the numbers it provides are a very useful starting point. Err on the side of caution and you're unlikely to run into a problem.

Thick glued-up workbench material like this, as it's made from hardwood and has all those glue joints, isn't anything that can be directly predicted by software because even more than a single-piece board no two pieces are going to be quite alike. But in practice you'll find panels like this are really amazingly stiff, and very resistant to deflecting even with quite a sizeable centre-only load.

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    Thought you might be interested, I plugged in some rough numbers into the Sagulator and if this were a solid slab of yellow birch with an unsupported 88" span a 150 lb central load would give a sag of 0.15", which it classes as Acceptable. (I'll say!) – Graphus Sep 24 at 6:33
  • It really does look like most of the asymmetry could be removed by sliding the tees on the long pipe toward the ends. I'd try that before anything else. – Caleb Sep 24 at 17:14
  • Looks like the fitting would have to overlap to bring the depth pipes closer to the edges, the vendor recommended that I convert this to an H-Frame which ended up providing a better result. Thanks for your help! Very happy that this will end up supporting the weight, didn't know what math I'd need to do to find out either, that tool will be handy – Jason Bristol Oct 1 at 2:22
  • That's a good resolution, thanks for the update. – Graphus Oct 1 at 6:27
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Your wood desktop looks great and should serve well. Nice job. It's thick enough that as, @Graphus said, it should not sag by any noticeable amount. The construction of many glued up boards should minimize any seasonal wood movement. If you're concerned about that just drill out the flange mounting holes or buy screws sized such that you end up with the mounting holes about 3/32 - 1/16" larger in diameter than the screw shafts. You still tighten and lock them down as usual but, that extra difference in diameter will easily compensate for wood movement. A "Vix" brand or generic hinge self-centering drill bit will keep the holes in the bench centered on the flange hole diameters.

Are you at all worried about bashing your knees on the "Z" brace near the ends? That was the only thing that caught my eye. If you're good with the brace location, then as @jdv said "build it." The staggered layout will cause no problems but it would have been nice if they had explained this layout for your size top, before you bought it.

Looking at the photos, I'm not sure if there's ANY adjustability in your leg kit. However, it looks as if you shortened the "Z" brace (cut it yourself), you could move your legs inboard more. WHY? Well, if you're not comfortable with the staggered aesthetics of the legs, this might conceal them a bit from an end view. With your wood strength, you can easily hang 18"+ over each leg end with no weight issues. This may even give you easier access to each end from a chair sitting position.

If you're worried about the brace or knee bashing, I've included just a couple of links for some of the woodworking sights that make some alternate bench top leg options. In case you decide on returning the leg kit for something else. I am not advising on style in any way and I am not recommending any particular vendor. These are just what my search turned up for alt. kits that would work for your top.

Many sites such as Rockler, Woodworker Supply, Lee Valley, Grizzly, Woodcraft, Highland Hardware and many, many others offer products for supporting a big thick slab that long. Again nice job.

Grizzly

Zoro

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  • Shortening the long pipe to bring the 2 legs closer to the center to match the "outrigger" legs is a great idea. – FreeMan Sep 24 at 13:46
  • Agree with FreeMan, good suggestion there to alter the geometry if an adjustment isn't possible — and effectively this is the same suggestion as mine, just via a different route. On this bit, "The construction of many glued up boards should minimize any seasonal wood movement." Actually no, it doesn't nothing to reduce it because of the way the wood is joined. It's only in face-to-face laminations that the glueing directly counters movement. Edge-to-edge is basically the same as a single piece of solid wood, even with many joints rather than just a few. – Graphus Sep 25 at 6:52
  • I ended up converting this to an H-Frame as suggested by the vendor, it turns out their formula doesn't quite work with my table dimensions. Thank you for your help! Its good to know that I got the finish right, there were a lot of directions I could have taken it seemed, but I am pleased with the result – Jason Bristol Oct 1 at 2:26
  • Wood movement crossed my mind early on, I was afraid that the frame would be too rigid, just incase I fastened all the flanges and backed out about a quarter turn to let it move a bit, I figured it doesn't need to be super tight since I'll have gravity on my side. Hopefully this will be enough – Jason Bristol Oct 1 at 2:31
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I'm a little late to the party, but if you don't like the z, you could flip the assembly thusly and give yourself more knee room.

worst sketch ever!

(Edit) Credit to @Graphus for bringing up this point: the original diagonal might be too long in this new configuration. The most straightforward fix for this would be to use a hacksaw (or a reciprocating saw, if you’re lucky enough to have access) to cut one of the longer pipes a little shorter.

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  • I added a comment and thought i would add it as an answer but you seem to have had the same stroke of genius. I would put the side legs in alignment. It could be configured a few ways. – Alaska Man Sep 26 at 18:50
  • This is a great idea, but the long pipe is deffo going to be too long given it currently spans nearly the whole diagonal. So an update mentioning it has to be hacksawn down might be in order? I know there are pipe cutters but are there any decent ones for pipe this diameter that don't cost an arm and a leg? – Graphus Sep 27 at 8:29
  • A hand held portable band-saw is perfect for this task. I don't use mine often but when i do i realize how nice, and safer, it is to have the right tool. – Alaska Man Sep 28 at 19:37
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    Thats a good idea, the vendor suggested I convert the table to an H-Frame, but I could have likely done this as well. I have some extra pipe laying around now and have my sights on building another table for the opposite side of the room so it might be a project for another day. Thanks for your help! – Jason Bristol Oct 1 at 2:28

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