If you have to choose wood for table legs, the primary consideration is strength. However, several other factors come into play, like workability, durability, and aesthetics. Although a particular wood may be extremely hard, it may be difficult to cut due to its high tensile strength. So, we need to choose our wood carefully.
When selecting wood for making table legs there are several things to consider, including the Janka hardness rating, grain structure, and presence of defects come into play. We then feature some of the best wood for table legs with a full explanation of why each is suitable.
Things to Consider When Selecting Wood for Table Legs
A table leg is a part of furniture that will experience a lot of wear and tear. This is because the table will bear heavy loads occasionally, and people might bang on the table as well. People may also drag it along the floor sometimes, not to mention the knocks it may receive from objects banging into it, including brooms and vacuum cleaners.
With all the things described above happening to a table leg, we need to make certain considerations as follows:
The strength of wood is determined by many factors, like stiffness, tensile strength, compressive strength, etc. If you want to standardize the method of measuring the strength of wood, you can go by the Janka hardness rating.
The Janka hardness rating is the pressure expressed in pounds per square inch (PSI) required to compress a steel ball into a piece of wood under controlled conditions. We regard woods with Janka hardness ratings between 1,000 and 1,500 as strong but workable woods and quite suitable for making table legs.
Grade of Wood
The glory of a table lies on its top rather than the legs upon which it stands. The main focus of attention would be on the tabletop, and people don’t tend to notice table legs that much unless they have intricate carving work.
If the wood has defects, you can always rotate the table leg so that the defects face the inside of the table where they will not show. Due to these reasons, you can use a strong but cheap grade of wood for making table legs.
Wood Grain and Curves
Table legs will contain a certain number of curves. If you are going to do any carving work on the legs, the curves will increase considerably. Due to this aspect, a close-grained wood like maple or mahogany makes a suitable choice for table legs.
The Staining Aspect
You may need to stain the table legs after completing the table. Close-grained wood takes stain quite well, which is another reason why woods like maple and mahogany are best-suited for table legs.
Other typical but perhaps not so readily available close-grained wood species include walnut, cherry, and ash.
Best Wood for Table Legs
Now we have an idea about what to consider while choosing wood for table legs. Next on, we shall take a look at the best wood for table legs:
Alder is native to the Pacific North-western region in the United States and Canada. It has a smooth, straight grain with an even texture. It is reddish-brown and bears a resemblance to cherry but with an even richer tone.
Alder is also used to make furniture and cabinets and for flooring. It stains easily, but then, it tends to pick up unsightly blotches and blemishes.
You will find cherry wood easy to work with, and it stains and finishes well. It ages well even if you only oil it. The heartwood of cherry is reddish-brown in contrast to its pale sapwood.
This wood has a medium hardness and tends to darken to a warm, deep-brown to reddish-brown hue as it ages. The closed grain of the wood allows the surface to be polished to a glass-like appearance.
For making table legs, hard maple is an excellent choice. However, the wood has a high Janka hardness rating, making it difficult to work with. In addition, hard maple has a straight grain pattern and is extremely pale-colored.
You need to exercise caution while staining hard maple as it tends to blotch up. But you can resolve this issue by using a sizer that prevents blotchiness. If polished, hard maple also acquires a mirror finish like cherry wood.
Hickory is strong, durable, and tough, much tougher than many other hardwoods. It grows across the northeast and Mid-west of the United States. We use hickory for tool handles, cabinets, drumsticks, golf clubs, and sports racquets.
Hickory stains well but is not very easy to work with as it tends to shatter on impact. However, as a source for table legs, hickory serves quite well.
Paint Grade Wood
Paint grade is not a wood species but a category of wood. It is a cheap version of wood that you can get from any standard lumber yard. There is no fixed standard for paint-grade wood, and it comes cheap.
Unless you apply a finish to this wood, it might look unsightly, but if you need to add legs to your table, you can reduce the project’s cost by using this grade of wood.
This wood species plays a prominent role in furniture making and makes good table legs. Red Oak is heavy and strong with a hardness on the upper part of the scale. If you stain your red oak table legs with a honey stain, it will acquire a timeless look and last for years. Red oak has an open grain structure that intensifies when we apply a suitable stain to the wood.
Contrary to its name, rubberwood is a hard, strong but flexible hardwood that has less tendency to crack or warp. You can stain rubberwood any color, and it will look good. Rubberwood is a highly sustainable species of wood. This wood plays a prominent role in making furniture and also makes durable table legs.
Coming to the end of our post on the best wood for table legs, we hope you found some useful information here. You now know the intricacies involved in selecting wood for table legs.
Once you know what to look for, you can procure any wood species included in this list. If you cannot get any of the woods featured in this list, you can always search for wood with similar properties to make long-lasting tables in your next woodworking project.