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I'm thinking of making my own tv tray tables set with convenient stowage as a feature, yet the (one) design I've ever seen is highly susceptible (with age?) to lateral instability.

Is there a design that doesn't have that problem and without making the foot-room situation worse (I always kicked the darn thing and almost sent my meal flying).

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UPDATE

My wife got tired of waiting for me to build them so we bought some :-P Perfection is the enemy of Good.

  • I think the first place to look when you're concerned about the lateral stability of that system is at the pivot point of the two leg sets. Having that joint be too loose would increase wobble. – Peter Grace May 15 '15 at 1:20
  • Can you please include a picture or diagram showing how the legs attach to the table top. I kinda, sorta think I know how they attach, but it's only a guess, which is that loose joints there are even more responsible for the side sway than the loose pivot. – Ast Pace May 17 '15 at 4:32
  • @ASTPace - that's just an example I pulled off the internet of a tv tray table so it would be clear what I was referring to in case people call it something else in their region. I didn't build a set yet. – Jason Kleban May 18 '15 at 3:29
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Is there a design that doesn't have that problem and without making the foot-room situation worse

Have you ever seen a folding walker? Here's a picture:

folding walker

The whole point of a walker is to support someone, so it needs to be stable in all directions. Lateral stability is provided by the parallel tubes in which the two frames pivot.

You could use a similar design for a tray table: a front panel connecting two frames which each swing out, or a two-legged front frame with two swing-out gate legs. Such a design would provide more foot/leg room and more stability, and would fold into a flat unit. I'm sure I've seen folding tray tables that use this concept.

Another option would be to build a set of nested tables that don't collapse at all, but which fit together in roughly the same space that a set of folded tray tables would occupy. These tables can be much more stable because they don't need to fold, but of course the tables need to be different sizes so each one fits inside the next larger one. You can make nesting tables to match any furniture style. Here's one image (although I like this style better):

nesting tables

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Diagonally bracing the inner leg pair would help...

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