I am building a 2' x 2' bar table, which will be either supported by a single metal base (like this) or by wooden legs at the corners.

For the table-top, I'm planning on using Poplar from Lowe's in sections of 0.75"x1.5"x2' glued together. The edges will use a lap joint with a dowel through both pieces. It'll look like this (crude drawing warning):

enter image description here

My question is: in either configuration - a center support column or corner legs - would any other structural support be needed for the table top (or is wood-glue enough)?


  • 1
    I'm not certain I understand what you're doing from the one drawing but is it your plan to wrap the glued-up panel with the lap-jointed pieces? If that is the intention then you should rethink, as you can't reliably frame tabletops made from solid wood.
    – Graphus
    Apr 11, 2018 at 14:03
  • @Graphus - yep - the plan was to take 0.75" x 1.5" x 2' pieces and glue them together along the longer side, so that the table top showed the shorter sides together (32 pieces in total). On the outside pieces, I'd use the same style, except extend the edges a bit so that a lap joint + dowel could be used. Not a good idea, I take it?
    – user4781
    Apr 11, 2018 at 15:05
  • @Graphus - similar to a butcher's block table (is the style that I'm going for).
    – user4781
    Apr 11, 2018 at 23:14
  • 1
    Although you will get lower expansion with the wood oriented the way it's going to be in the central panel that's not to say you won't get more than a frame will allow for, and the force exerted by expanding wood is easily enough to split those joints or break the wood itself. Bottom line is you basically never see something in solid wood with a frame from a competent maker, unless they have provided a gap for the wood to be able to expand into (as seen on frame-and-panel doors).
    – Graphus
    Apr 12, 2018 at 12:11
  • For Poplar with an assumed 3% fluctuation in moisture content typical for most houses, your table will expand/contract .113"(quarter sawn) to .208"(flat sawn) (book values popularwoodworking.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/…) Remember that when you rotate your boards the type of sawing changes. A 2x4 quartersawn board (growth rings are perpendicular to the 4" face) becomes a 4x2 flat sawn board. either orientation will be more movement than a glued joint can resist though.
    – Chuck S
    Apr 12, 2018 at 15:57

1 Answer 1


So, I ended up going with the "Don't do it!" answer. In the end, the table is made by gluing the pieces together and running 3 dowels through them and the edges are simply routed. I don't think the dowels add much, structurally, but they sure made the glue-up easier.

Thanks for all of the advice from everyone! Here's the table top progression, in case you're wondering:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

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