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I recently bought a table top similar to the picture below; it's 22 inches in diameter. enter image description here

I wanted to build a simple table base, similar to the mockup below. For this, I bought three 36-inch 1"x1" wood pieces: one of the pieces would be for the height of the table and the other two would be for the base and the top part. I didn't want to glue/screw/nail the top to the base; I just wanted to place it over the top.

I know it's something simple, but how can I accomplish building this? I'm new to carpentry, so that's why it may be a little more difficult for me. I don't have that many power tools, just the basic ones like a drill and a jigsaw.

My mockup is something like this:

enter image description here

Any help is appreciated.

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I didn't want to glue/screw/nail the top to the base; I just wanted to place it over the top.

That will not be very safe, because wood on wood doesn't generate much friction a surprisingly small bump can upset an unfixed tabletop and send it crashing to the ground. Many a woodworker test-fitting a top to their leg assemblies has found this out the hard way after bumping it with their hip!

If you're absolutely sure you don't want to fix the top in place I would highly recommend installing rubber pads or small strips of non-slip tape on the X frames to help the top not slip as easily if knocked.

how can I accomplish building this?

There are numerous joints that could be used here, including some unusual three-way joints that would involve some seriously accurate handwork. But I think one of the simplest options will suit you as it's easily done and should be strong and secure.

You start by making the two X frames, which will be joined in the centre using half-lap joints (UK: cross-halving joints). Cut these for a nice hand-tight fit, glue and clamp them firmly in the centre.

Half-lap or cross-halving joint

Source: Good Wood Joints, by Albert Jackson & David Day.

Once the glue has set on those you can then drill vertically through the lap (clamp firmly to a scrap of wood to minimise blowout at the back when the bit exits) and drill a matching hole in the centre of the leg for a dowel, I'd suggest using 3/8" dowel here.

This dowel will in effect become a round tenon, and the drilled hole through the lap joint is the mortise. So this is a 'cheats' way of doing a mortise-and-tenon joint, one of the strongest joints in woodworking.

Drill the hole in the leg slightly deeper than necessary to give a little room for excess glue to accumulate. If you buy smooth dowel you should prepare it for joint use by grooving it somehow, see this previous Q&A.

Glue up, clamp carefully so the X shapes remain square to the leg and once the glue has set you're ready for finish.

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    Apologies if I missed reference to it in your answer, but the question of stock doesn't seem to have been addressed. 1x1 (nominal or actual) is totally inappropriate as the center pedestal, and legs, and 1x1 is questionable as the top support. – Aloysius Defenestrate Oct 21 '16 at 13:11
  • Thanks for the post. I'll try this technique, but with a thicker piece of wood. – rbhat Oct 21 '16 at 14:20
  • @AloysiusDefenestrate I had initially included a note about that but deleted it so this didn't run any longer, intending to tack it on as a Comment but forgot. Obviously wood type matters here, big difference in stiffness between pine and white oak etc! – Graphus Oct 21 '16 at 14:37
  • The first time I tried making a half-lap joint, I messed it up pretty good. I just didn't get the size of the dado (the cut groove in each board) right; the shoulders of each cross beam had too large of a gap between them, so the joint wasn't tight. If that happens to you, here's a tip if you don't want to re-do the work: Use epoxy instead of wood glue. As long as the epoxy fills the gap, it will still be strong. This would not be the case with standard PVA wood glue. – Charlie Kilian Oct 21 '16 at 14:49
  • (There are also ways to fix it that are more aesthetically pleasing, but I thought I'd mention it in case it happened to, say, the top cross where it wouldn't be visible anyway, and not the bottom, where it would.) – Charlie Kilian Oct 21 '16 at 14:50
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As I mentioned in the comments, I think the size of wood combined with the design you've chosen is desperately inadequate. We have an expectation that tables put up with all kinds of forces -- live and dead loads; downward, sideways -- and underbuilding something like this will end in tears. (I'm guessing that the top alone is 15-20 pounds, which isn't trivial.)

Design-wise, I suggest you try to draw some inspiration from something like Gerrit Rietveld's Red Blue Chair: http://www.moma.org/collection/works/4044

It's made up of relatively spindly framing members, but it uses cross-bracing and doweled joints to advantage. (Braces will help prevent racking... even better if the braces are set on an angle.)

In your case, I'd think about using 4 of your 1x1s with a little space between them as the central pedestal. (Even this might not be sufficient, but it should be a good experiment, and you can beef it up afterwards as needed.) Maybe have them on an angle for additional strength. Here's some terrible scribbles:

terrible scribbly design ideas

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