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I am looking to build a TV stand like this:

TV stand

but I have been trying to find a way to hide the end grain. I found this stand on Crate & Barrel with dovetail joints, but I am not nearly skilled enough to cut all those dovetails!

C&B stand

Could the dovetailed joints on the C&B stand be replaced with doweled miter joints like:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/vs-lumberjocks.com/lvx7vvs.jpg

I would keep the other two butt jointed vertical supports as well (and maybe route shallow grooves in the horizontal boards for the vertical supports to fit in). I could also include a board on the back of the stand like the C&B model.

I plan to use 1x8 (joined into 1x16) pine for the boards and something like this walnut dowel rod.

There is a relevant discussion here as well. I don't have great access to a table saw, but this joint looks like a good contender:

miter joint

Also I found this table:

Table

with a quick search, so it looks like there is precedence for this design, but I am concerned about the integrity of the joint considering there will be a TV on top of this stand. Will these joints, along with the other support pieces, be strong enough?

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    You could instead of covetails, go with box joints. Much simpler – ratchet freak Feb 20 '17 at 14:18
  • @ratchetfreak Box joints are an option. I don't have great access to a table saw, though, so I'd like to minimize its necessity. – acurcie Feb 20 '17 at 15:41
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    You could run a spline and have it completely concealed. – Jacob Edmond Feb 20 '17 at 16:28
  • @JacobEdmond And that would be strong enough? I do like the look of the exposed dowels, but of course only if the dowels will hold. – acurcie Feb 20 '17 at 17:03
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    Collect some scrap wood and practice making dovetails for a while. The way to get from "not nearly skilled enough" to wherever you want to get is not by avoiding them, it's by practice. Make a joint, cut it off, make another joint...though of corse dovetails have end-grain showing. – Ecnerwal Feb 20 '17 at 22:23
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I have been trying to find a way to hide the end grain. I found this stand on Crate & Barrel with dovetail joints, but I am not nearly skilled enough to cut all those dovetails!

Dovetails don't hide end grain anyway, they make a feature of it so if you don't want to see any end grain they aren't the right choice. And by the same token neither would a box joint or finger/comb joint.

Could the dovetailed joints on the C&B stand be replaced with doweled miter joints

In theory yes, but in practice perhaps not.

The main problem here as I see it is not the joint you propose but that it's in pine. I regularly sing the praises of softwood and remind people that it can be surprisingly strong, but use in this design could well be expecting too much of it.

This isn't because it's pine, but because of the specific pine you're likely intending to buy. In addition to there being numerous subspecies of pine, which vary widely in strength, the faster you grow any softwood the weaker it is. And pine sold for building (2x material) is grown as fast as possible and is therefore often the poorest example of the species. While more utilitarian furniture designs built using it can be plenty strong, once you get into more experimental territory like this you're really pushing what the wood is capable of, both in terms of strength and in stability*.

and maybe route shallow grooves in the horizontal boards for the vertical supports to fit in

Yes, do that. Regardless of what wood you used it would be a good idea. Housing the uprights like this will add a significant amount of stiffness to the overall structure, far more than you may realise.


*In addition to its innate weakness it is often not dried well (both too quickly and not taken down far enough as a rule, simply because neither are required for its intended purpose) and then on top of this it is frequently stored poorly where it's sold.

  • Thanks for all the info. I don't want to hide the end grain necessarily, but just avoid ugly butt joints. You made a correct assumption about the quality of pine I am considering using. My other options are putting the project on hold and practicing dovetails or, after some googling, I am considering maybe a doweled rebate joint (dtatist.wikispaces.com/file/view/LAP_rebate.gif/152141077/…)? This would cover the end grain and allow for exposed dowels. Also it would match a bit with the grooves for the other vertical supports. – acurcie Feb 21 '17 at 3:53
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    Thanks for the confirmation re. the wood type. I should have added something about this in my Answer, but if you wanted to go ahead with this exactly as planned I would advise being very selective about the wood you buy to get the best of what's on offer, if necessary going back multiple times to get enough that is good enough.And be sure to acclimate it when you get it to your workspace! It will need at least some weeks to get to equilibrium with its new surroundings, and after that anything built with it will be much less prone to warping than if used within 1-3 days of bringing it home. – Graphus supports Monica Feb 21 '17 at 9:20
  • I just wanted to clarify - your idea of this plan includes the vertical support pieces seen in the first image (not on the C&B stand) in addition to the back panel seen on the C&B stand? Those pieces are not enough to absorb the weight, leaving the mitered joints on the end safe from shearing? – acurcie Feb 23 '17 at 0:54
  • Here is a quick sketchup to avoid confusion - imgur.com/VeGC7sS – acurcie Feb 23 '17 at 1:55
  • That Sketchup model shows a design that will be far stronger and more stable than the one in the photo from Crate & Barrel because it provides full-width support for the panels at both ends. – Graphus supports Monica Feb 23 '17 at 10:21
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The short answer is that you should be able to get by with the doweled connection, but there are a few things you must consider to make sure. The first thing to consider is will your table support the weight of the TV and whatever else you put on it. You can determine this using the Sagulator to see how well the shelves will handle the weight. The weight should easily be transferred to the vertical legs in any of the connections you show. However, one further consideration is that each joint should also be considered as a potential hinge.

In your first photo, if a force is applied from the side, the entire table could collapse to the left or right side. The connecting joints must adequately resist the force. Dovetails, by their geometry proved great resistance to this rotational force. Box joints will also do very well. Both of those joints offer a great deal of connection surface area to resist the potential to rotate by virtue of the glued connection. Your dowels will also offer resistance, not so much because of the glue as by the strength of the dowel in resisting the shear and/or bending force. Note that the dowels will want to bend and this will apply force to the wood shelf and legs. The thickness of the walls around the dowel sockets is important. If there is too little wood in the leg face and the dowel itself, the dowel could tear out the surface. Making the legs thick enough or the dowels longer and of stronger wood will help. You can reduce the force at each dowel by increasing the number of dowels in the connection. Your last photo shows a thick slab with many dowels which will resist a lot of rotational force very well.

In addition to resisting the rotational force in the actual joints you can also do what is shown in your second photo. Securing the panel on the back of the table provides an excellent means of reducing the rotational force on the shelf/leg joints.

So how much is enough? This is a pretty subjective issue. There is no simple calculator and most folk learn from experience, copying the connections of others and sometimes testing the limits. If it were me I would use 3/4" or 7/8" hardwoods (for both beauty and strength). I would prefer dovetails or box joints, but if using dowels would use 3/8" dowels at 1 to 1 1/2" centers. I would also provide a back panel to reduce the stress of the connection joints.

Good luck!

  • Wow, thank you for this awesome write-up. If I follow you correctly, it sounds like the doweled miter joints will suffice with the consideration that rotational force is an issue. This issue is solved by the addition of the back panel screwed to the back of the stand. Is the use of 1x16 (3/4") pine then an issue? This is an early project for me and I didn't want to commit to some expensive hardwood yet :) – acurcie Feb 20 '17 at 19:26
  • 3/4" pine should work fine, just keep the 3/8" dowels centered and make them 3" + long with snog sockets and adequate glue. – Ashlar Feb 20 '17 at 21:50

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