Making a DIY Mid-Century Modern Table Is Simple

Author : Kevin Taylor | Published On : 25 Nov 2021

Designers of Mid-Century Modern (MCM) furniture are known for creating attractive tables with 'floating' wooden table tops above minimalist table bases. The best of these designers used modern minimalism's subtractive principles to achieve this new look. They had to make rugged leg attachments and keep the table top boards from warping despite their desire to reduce the visual bulk of traditional table bases.

The 'less is more' solution they came up with was to use wooden cleats to support the table top above while receiving the legs from below. Table aprons were no longer required thanks to these cleats. DIY mid-century modern furniture appears to be much lighter than its traditional counterparts, with only two cleats and four slim table legs.

Do-it-yourselfers have a problem

These cleat systems, despite their simple appearance, have unusual angles that are difficult to get 'just right.' Until now, the do-it-yourselfer had few options for repairing or building mid century modern table. One way is to use light-duty metal hardware, which we sell a lot of.

However, as the table grows larger, these metal plates become insufficient. This metal hardware can be downright dangerous for a DIY mid-century modern dining table. It also has no effect on keeping the table top flat. That is an issue.

Metal plates do nothing to support and flatten the tabletop.

The Alternative

For the first time, ready-made cleats are now available, designed specifically for easy DIY mid-century modern furniture plans. These guidelines can be used to make modern dining tables, desks, end tables, credenzas, side tables, sofas, and other furniture. Here's everything you need to know about it.

These hardwood cleats are meant to be seen! These hardwood cleats have crisply drilled mounting holes, delicate edge chamfers, and fine sanding, and are an understated but essential element in the design of a modern table. They're stunningly sculptural in and of themselves!

What exactly are cleats? Wood screws secure the cleats beneath the table top (included). Modern tapered legs from McCobb or Wegner can be ordered with pre-installed industrial strength hardware, allowing you to quickly secure legs to cleats without the use of tools.

Cleats are divided into three categories. Legs are designed to be attached to both the angled and straight cleats. This results in a cleat/leg assembly with two legs at each end of the central cleat.

The flattener cleat is used to prevent table top boards from warping, as the name implies. It works well with hairpin legs and adds stability to long tables.

The total number of cleats required. For every two legs, you'll need one cleat. Two cleats are required for a four-legged table. Three leg cleats are required for a six-legged table. If the distance between the cleat/leg assemblies on any table exceeds 30 inches, consider adding a flattener cleat for additional tabletop strength and flattening.

The length of the cleat. There are seven different cleat lengths to choose from. Choose cleats that are six inches shorter than the width of your dining table top or four inches shorter than the width of your side/coffee table. (Cleats run perpendicular to the direction of the tabletop board.)

Above the two front McCobb legs of this small maple dining table, angled leg cleats are just visible. Legs are securely attached to the wood cleats.

How to Find Cleats on Your Table

To begin, keep in mind that cleats are attached to the underside of the table top in a direction perpendicular to the tabletop boards. Cleats are centred across the table's width, which means there is an equal amount of space at either end of the cleat out to the table's edge. We like to place the flattener cleats just inside the location of the hairpin leg base plates on hairpin leg tables.

For cleat/leg assemblies on small tables, we like to place the cleat's outer long edge four inches from the table's end. On larger tables, we might place the cleat's long edge six inches from the table's end.

These are merely recommendations, and the cleats are simple to install and remove. Try repositioning the cleat/leg assemblies using your own aesthetic judgement. With your top upside down and your legs attached to the cleat, this is a simple task.

Simply reposition the assemblies until they appear to be in the proper place, secure with two screws, flip the table over, and assess. Finish attaching the cleat when you've achieved the look you want.

If you're looking for mid century furniture, Olicore Studio is a well-known mid-century furniture company.  Visit the site to explore a wide range of mid century modern furniture for home décor.