Outdoor Coffee Table – Table Legs

Outdoor Coffee Table – Table Legs

The outdoor coffee table to match our outdoor sectional is nearing completion! I posted about making the table top and all of the tenons for the mortise and tenon joints last week. I’ll cover how the matching mortises were made in the table legs, as well as the assembly of each leg. 

Before cutting the mortises in the table legs for the joint, I made all of the cuts for the legs. Based on the design, each leg has 45º miter joints for each corner. I used a miter saw and stop block for consistency across all 8 pieces for the legs (4 per leg). One thing I didn’t do for this build is cut each matching piece on both sides of the saw. This method means that if your saw is slightly off, one side will have a 44º angle and the other should have a matching 46º angle. My miter joints ended up okay, but I’m hoping using this method next time will help improve them.

Two simple table legs with mitered corners connect directly to the table top in this design.

As you can see from the design above, the table top connects directly to the top beam of the leg. It connects via a mortise and tenon joint, so I used a jig to put the mortises into both legs.

Looks jank, is actually dank.

My jig consists of a straight edge for the router to run along, plus some end stops to set the mortise width. I’ve now used this setup for both this table and my dining table build. I’m definitely getting more comfortable with it and my mortises are improving every time.

Time to assemble the table legs. Full disclosure, I probably should have drilled the holes for the pins that hold the tenon in the mortise before assembling the legs. It would have been easier to drill straight holes through just one piece of wood, rather than have to deal with the full assembly, but I managed. To assemble the table legs, I tried a new method for the joints. I used a piece of masking tape to hold the edges together while putting glue on them, then flipping one side up with the tape acting as a hinge. I was pretty pleased with the result.

Masking tape set up with edges aligned.
After adding glue, the tape works as a hinge to keep the joint in place.

I used pin nails to hold each joint while the glue dried. I think I need to bite the bullet and buy more clamps to avoid this next time. It worked okay, but I don’t think the pin nails hold the joint as tight as necessary for a clean joint. I think there are ratchet strap type clamps for mitered boxes, so I’ll check those out for next time.

As I mentioned before, I ended up drilling the holes for pins after assembling the table legs. The legs being assembled made it harder than it should have been, but it still went pretty smoothly. Each hole that I drilled went through the middle of each mortise on the legs. The table top slats that I made previously have corresponding holes drilled through their tenons. Next post I’ll walk through how I assemble the final table using those holes and pins to hold everything together!

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