Montreat Side Table
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Montreat Side Table Part 5

I have been doing a little research. As I finalized the design of the web frame I’ll be using in the Montreat Side Table, I wasn’t sure what to call the joinery. The web frame will support the drawer and provide much needed structure to the table. The joinery connecting the two rails and two stiles will be simple, by way of biscuits. But the joinery which will attach the completed web frame to the table will be unusual.

The research happened while working on the SketchUp model; adding the the web frame to table joinery. These joints are formed by creating a rabbet on three sides of the web frame and then making a corresponding dado in the side and back aprons. I wondered how these two joint names came to be. For rabbet, my Google search took me to Wikipedia which said the rabbet name comes from the Old French term “rabbat” meaning recess in a wall. Dado’s origin is less clear. Again from Wikipedia (the source of all good information right?), the definition of dado is given, but no clear origin of the term and dado is such an odd name. There was reference to dado as an architectural term, but the origin of “dado” and how it became used in woodworking isn’t given. For me, this is still a woodworking mystery.

But, one thing I did learn: The joint I’ll be making in the side and back aprons is correctly called a groove (source) as in tongue and groove. A dado runs across the grain as in a bookcase with shelves let into the sides. And a groove is the same as a dado except it runs with the grain. I never knew that.

Montreat Side Table Final Web Frame F

The proposed web frame with biscuit joinery shown.

As shown above, I chose biscuits for the web frame joinery. I have successfully used biscuit joinery for many years and while some see it as inappropriate for structural joinery, when combined with other types of joinery, biscuits can be a very good choice. In my table for example, The biscuits will join the stiles and rails of the web frame, then the web frame sub-assembly will be glued into the aprons making the even larger assembly sufficiently strong.

I did run into some alignment problems. In two instances the biscuit slot in the back rail did not align with the stiles raising the back rail. I simply glued a biscuit in each slot and remade the joint. But, I think next time I’ll use stub tenons for this operation.


Biscuit slots cut.


Groove in aprons formed.

Web Frame to Apron Graphic

Web frame to apron joinery.


Web frame rabbet inserted into apron groove.


Cutting notches at each corner for leg clearance.


Nice fit.


Web frame in place.


I sourced some beautiful walnut for the slats.

I wonder if the tongue and groove joinery for the web frame to apron joint is a little over the top. I thought about simply driving screws through the web frame components into their mating aprons, add some glue and be done with it. But I really don’t want many screws in this project.

The side and back slats are next which will be pretty exciting to add. These parts will give the table a lot of visual pop and the walnut I sourced is beautiful. All of the slats will be mortised and tenoned in place which will be a lot of work. I am planning on making a template and creating the mortises with my plunge router. I’ll have another update in a couple of weeks.

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During the week, I sell flooring products for The Dixie Group. Weekends, you'll find me in my basement workshop making furniture.


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