Tripod Table Base
DIY Tripod Table Base
(3) 4"x4"x8' Douglas Fir beams (approximately $15 each)
Optional- use hardwood or wood of your choice. The three finished pieces should be 3"x3"x57", if you are ordering from a lumber yard.
Stain or paint of your choice
Jointer/Planer to square my wood- (or you can start with squared and planed hardwood at a higher cost.)
Miter Saw- with sliding, depth stop adjustment, mitering, and beveling capabilities
Let's Build It!
Start by jointing and planing your lumber. You are taking it from rough to smooth, and squaring off all the edges. The beams start at approximately 3.5"x3.5", and you are getting them down to 3"x3" with a few passes on each side.
Take a look at how jointing & planing really cleans up the board! I took off 1/16" each pass.
Using the miter saw, cut each beam down to 57" in length. I did this step second because I wanted to see what knots and imperfections remained after planing. Then I could choose which part of the beam to use. You could always cut it first, as it makes it more managable to plane, or you could buy boards cut to size, especially if you don't have a jointer/planer.
My boards are cut to length and ready for the next step! I've drawn on with pencil the cut we are about to make. Let's look at it in detail.
We are creating a half-lap in each board based off of these dimensions. A half-lap takes out a notch that is 3"x3"x1.5" (half the board width).
To create the half lap, put stopper blocks behind your board and practice sliding your saw blade from front to back. The deepest part of the saw should be able to pass back behind the wood for an even cut. (It would stop short of passing through the back without the blocks there.) Next, you need to adjust the saw's depth stop until the maximum depth is halfway down the board. You don't want to cut too deep, so start conservative and adjust. Once at the correct depth, make the cuts on the left and right sides of the notch. Remember, the finish opening is 3" so your blade has to fall within those lines! Do not cut on top of those lines or the notch will be too wide! Next make several slices from one side to the other, moving the board slightly after each cut. Remove those slices by hand, then clean up the cut with left to right slides of the wood and front to back slides of the saw, with the saw running in the down position.
Here is the process in action! Practice on scrap wood if it's your first time.
My boards now all have the same half lap and we are ready to compound cut the ends!
This is what we are going for with the compound cuts. It's the same for every board. Note which corners stay on for each cut. Mark these important corners on each end so you can correctly line up the cut with your saw.
Here's a view of these cuts looking all the way around the board.
If compound cuts are new for you, check out this Instagram reel I made to explain them!
To make the compound cuts for this table base, set your miter to 45 degrees and your bevel to 35.3 degees. (The depth stop should be readjusted to go all the way through the wood and the slider set and locked all the way back.) Your pencil marked corner should be lined up with where the saw will end. Faces of the corner intersection should face front and bottom.
These are my compound cuts in action.
Now that the compound cuts are made, you are ready for assembly! You can stain or paint now or later. You can also disassemble the base at anytime because it requires no glue.
This video from my story highlight does the best job explaining the assembly! I'm using a smaller model to show you how it works in one shot.
I ended up needing to add a few shims for a snug fit, and these slices from my earlier half-lap were perfect for that!