If you’re looking for an alternative to metal table hold-down fasteners, or don’t have any fasteners readily available, consider making your own using some scrap wood and a biscuit joiner. I made a number of such fasteners for a cherry coffee+end table project and was fairly pleased with the results. They keep the table top securely in place while still allowing for moisture related seasonal wood movement — essential features of any fastener used for solid wood table tops. (If you don’t allow for this natural movement, your table top will eventually split and then you’ll be in deep doo-doo).
The fasteners are also a good way to recycle some of that scrap wood that quickly piles up in the woodshop. The steps I followed to create the fasteners are described below.
|The fasteners are 3-1/4″ long and 1-1/4″ wide. The biscuit is used to align the fastener to the inside edge of the table apron. It slides within slots cut into the table apron to allow for seasonal wood movement. The oversized hold-down screw hole in the middle also helps with wood movement.|
|Using a piece of 3/4″ stock that was 1-1/4″ wide and about 6 feet long, I first cut a number of evenly spaced slots with a biscuit joiner. The slot spacing was 3-3/8″ (3-1/4″ long fasteners plus 1/8″ saw kerf allowance).|
|Next, I glued biscuits into the slots and drilled oversized holes for the #6 hold-down screws using a 3/8″ bit. Once the holes were drilled, the board was cut into 3-1/4″ long sections to create each fastener.|
|Using the biscuit joiner, I cut slots on the inside of the table aprons for the biscuits to ride in. For a small table like this, I decided that four fasteners would be sufficient.|
|The fastener in place and ready for action. Thanks to the biscuit, the fastener is perfectly aligned with the top edge of the apron. Note: for this end table, I decided to glue the fasteners in place and then drilled the screw holes slightly larger to compensate. On a larger table that is subject to greater wood movement, it would be better to not glue the fasteners in place so they can slide in the apron slots.|
|The fastener in use. Fender washers work well for this application because they fully span the fastener hole without allowing the hold-down screw to slip through. You don’t want to over-tighten the screws since they need to be able to slide a bit within the fastener hole.|