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How to Attach Table top to Base Using Threaded Inserts

In this article, I show you how to attach table top to base using threaded inserts that easily disassembles. This method works well for trestle wood tables without an apron.

Tools and Material Used

Threaded Inserts
1/4″-20 screws 2″ long
T40 drill bit
Starbond EM-2000 Thick Glue
Drill Bit 5/16″
5/8″ Bit
Drill
Jigsaw
Disc Sander

Be sure to checkout all the tools I use for my projects.

Overview: How to Attach Table Top to Base Using Threaded Inserts

There are many different techniques for attaching a wood table top to table legs or a trestle base.
However, attaching a table top to base using threaded inserts and a wood mounting block works best for farmhouse tables with trestle bases.

This method consists of installing threaded inserts in the table top and table bottom.

how to install threaded inserts for wood

A wood mounting block rests on the underside of the table against the trestle table base. Basically, it serves as a connector.
One screw secures the wood block to the table top and the other screw secures the wood block to the table base.

Advantages of Using Threaded Inserts

I use threaded inserts on most of my custom tables because they make things easier on me and my clients.

Essentially, threaded inserts accomplish the most important factors for me:

  1. Securely and safely attaches the table top to table bottom.
  2. Allows for slight wood movement while maintaining stability.
  3. Streamlines assembly and disassembly for my clients.
  4. Provides cheaper shipping options and allows me to protect each part of the table better.

While I prefer to make a table base using fancy wood joinery with no screws to demonstrate my woodworking skills, it simply doesn’t make sense for most of my projects.

Wood Mounting Blocks

The wood mounting blocks are simple to make and, as mentioned previously, serves as a connector for the table top and table bottom.

How to Attach Table Top to Base using Threaded Inserts

I used leftover walnut wood from the table base to cut 4 square pieces of walnut at 6” x 1.75” x 2” (L x W x H).
Then, I cut these pieces with my bandsaw, but a jigsaw or handsaw works just as well.  

Next, I traced the curve of the top bar on the trestle table on the square blocks of walnut and cut it on my bandsaw. 
This helps disguise the block of wood better, but not completely necessary.  

Sanding wood mounting block

Once they were all cut, I sanded them down on my disc sander and rounded over the edges.

Sanding wood mounting block

Center Table Base

As a first step, I needed to flip the table over. I don’t have a lift in my workshop yet, but who needs a lift when I have 2 strong boys to help me flip the table.

farmhouse trestle table top and base

We flipped the table over and centered the trestle table base on the bottom of the table.  

how to attach table top to base center trestle bottom

With the table base centered, I traced the table base around the perimeter with a pencil.  
This pencil line allows me to easily reposition the table if needed.

I prefer to use 1 block of wood at each corner; however, 2 at opposite ends works as well.

Determine Mounting Locations

This trestle base crossbar on this farmhouse table top is 2” wide and 3.5” high.

As a result, I cut the pieces of wood to be 1.5″ shorter than the crossbar on the trestle table base – 6” x 1.75” x 2” (L x W x H)

Ideally, I prefer the mounting block to have a low profile to be as close to the underside of the table top as possible without jeopardizing the strength of the mounting block.
As you can see from the picture below, the wood blocks are shorter than the trestle base crossbar.

I positioned the wood blocks in all 4 corners and clamped them in place.  

attaching table top to base

Once the mounting blocks were secured with clamps, I marked the location on the table bottom and table top with a pencil.

I used a punch tool to mark the locations of the holes on the mounting block.

Drill Holes in Wood Block

I drilled 2 holes in the block of wood 1/8” longer than the block of wood in order to slightly puncture the table top and table bottom.

I drilled the first hole through the side into the table bottom. 
Since the thickness of the block is 1.75”, I drilled to a depth of 1 7/8”. 

how to attach table top to base using wood blocks

Then, I drilled the second hole through the top into the table. 
Since the height of the mounting block is 2”, I drilled to a depth of 2 1/8”.  

attaching table top to trestle base using wood blocks

I used a countersink bit on each hole I drilled through the mounting block.
Keep in mind, this isn’t necessary.

how to attach table top to base using threaded inserts

Table Tops and Wood Movement

In my opinion, I believe most folks exaggerate the amount of wood movement.
Yes, wood does move (expand and contract) based on temperature and humidity changes.
Furthermore, wood from the big box store, such as pine or white wood, moves more than wood purchased from a hardwood dealer.
However, wood movement is very minimal if properly kiln or air dried.
So, I do allow for minor wood movement but I don’t stress over it.

how to attach table top to trestle base and allow for wood movement

To compensate for slight wood movement, I used a 5/8” drill bit and a 1/4” screw and didn’t tighten the screw completely.  
This allows the wood to move up to 3/8″.

threaded insert screw size

At times, I use a drill bit 1/2” larger than the width of the screw if the wood is susceptible to movement (like wood from the big box store).

How to Install Threaded Inserts in Wood

First, I removed each block of wood and exposed the 1/8” hole on the underside of the table top and table bottom from the drill bit.

The threaded inserts are 15mm long, 8mm body width, and 10.4mm total width.

A diagram (similar to the one below) accompanied the threaded inserts I purchased from Amazon.

threaded insert dimensions
Image by Amazon.com {link to https://amzn.to/2UFgphe}

To determine the drill bit size for the threaded insert, use the width of the body without the threads. 
So, 8mm calls for a 5/16” drill bit size.

Since I want the threaded insert to be slightly inset, I increase the length of the threaded insert from 15mm to 16mm. 
In turn, the measurement is 16mm or 5/8”. 

Next, I use a piece of electrical tape and wrapped it around the 5/8” mark on the 5/16” drill bit.

I drilled the hole as straight as possible into the table bottom and table top. 

how to install threaded inserts in wood

In total, I drilled 8 holes.

how to install threaded inserts in wood

Quick Tip: I use a piece of electrical tape on my drill bits to mark the depth I want to drill.

Then, I put CA glue in the holes (on table top and table base).

installing threaded inserts in wood using CA glue

Thick CA glue works best for threaded inserts.

Install Threaded Inserts with CA Glue

Next, I used a screwdriver or variable speed drill with a T40 bit to drive the threaded insert into the hole. A hex wrench works as well.

how to install threaded inserts in wood
how to attach table top to base using threaded inserts
how to attach table top to base using threaded inserts

By the time I finished securing the threaded inserts in the table top and trestle base, the glue was dry enough to secure the first with a 1/4”-20 screw.

attaching threaded inserts in wood

Threaded Inserts for Furniture Levelers & Glides

In addition to attaching a table top to trestle base, I use threaded inserts for furniture levelers.
The furniture levelers not only level a farmhouse dining table on an uneven floor, but they also protect the table legs with furniture glides.

threaded inserts for furniture leveler

Table Base that Easily Disassembles

If possible, I design my table bases to easily disassemble.
This is always the case for my farmhouse trestle table bases.

Additionally, I record a video for all my customers which outlines how to attach table top to base using threaded inserts before they receive the table.

farmhouse trestle dining table base

To further illustrate the value of threaded inserts, I included an example of a real recording I created for a client within the video tutorial which accompanies this article.

farmhouse trestle table base

Furthermore, I use threaded inserts to attach the farmhouse trestle table base middle portion to each end.
For this particular table, I used threaded inserts on the top of the half lap joint as depicted below.

farmhouse trestle table base

Similarly, I did the same for the bottom.

farmhouse trestle table base

This helps my clients assemble the table easily when the receive it.

how to assemble a farmhouse dining table

How to Attach Table Top to Base Conclusion

In conclusion, this attaching table top to trestle base technique works perfectly for farmhouse table tops.

I encourage you to visit my best finishes for epoxy wood table article.

Please leave a comment down below and let me know your thoughts – I read every single comment and respond to most.

Be sure to visit my online store for downloadable DIY project plans and handmade items for sale.

how to attach table top to trestle

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you attach legs to a table top without an apron?

How to Attach Table Top to Base using Threaded Inserts

To attach legs to a table top without an apron, use a wood mounting block and threaded inserts.
The mounting block should be the same wood species as the table bottom and be placed so that it easily attach to the table top and table base.

How do I use threaded inserts in wood?

how to attach table top to base using threaded inserts

To use threaded inserts in wood, drill a hole the size of the threaded insert body into the wood.
The hole should be 1/8″ longer than the threaded insert so it is recessed a bit.
Next, place CA glue in the hole.
Finally, secure the threaded insert with a hex wrench.

How do you stabilize a trestle table?

threaded inserts for furniture leveler

To stabilize a trestle table, install furniture levelers on the bottom of each table leg.
Furniture levelers not only stabilize and level a trestle table, but they also protect the table legs.

How do you account for wood movement?

The 3 best way to account for wood movement are:
1. Only work with dry wood with a moisture level of 12% or below.
2. Pay attention to the grain direction.
3. Account for wood movement in joinery methods.

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