Three-Legged Pedestal Table Leg Proportions

How wide should the feet spread for a stable three-legged pedestal table? February 14, 2010

Question
Iím curious to know if anyone has come across any design standards or rules of thumb for sizing the legs of a pedestal table. The table top will be 32" in diameter, and will have three legs radiating out from the bottom of the pedestal. How far out should the legs extend to ensure stability without being cumbersome?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor R:
Why not just mock it up real quick in whatever material and try it out yourself? Having a model there to play with will allow you to show your customer how and why you settled on the lengths you did.



From the original questioner:
I'm raising the question here more for my own design purposes rather than my client's. I want to make sure that the leg length I choose for this table will be adequate for the design height and diameter of the table. If anyone is aware of a standard or rule of thumb, I'd like to know about it.


From contributor R:
In that case, I typically look for historic answers. Check out a couple on antique or auction websites. Tables with undersized legs don't last 100 plus years.


From contributor S:
If you draw to scale the three legs superimposed over your 32" top and just pick a length, you will see that the ensuing triangle you make has to come near the rim of the table to give any semblance of stability. This makes for interference with chairs and people legs if this table is for people. This is why you will not find historical versions of this design. Four leg pedestals can be found. But three makes for a disproportional extension of the foot compared to four. If this table is not for seating people, then it is a moot point, but drawing it in plan and elevation will give enough preview info to size as needed. The little Shaker three legged candlestands have the classic footprint to top ratio, and may translate to 32" diameter - but even these are tippy and tend towards top-heavy.


From contributor P:
Each leg extending 14" from center should do the trick. That puts about 2/3 of the area of the top on the right side of the "tip line" formed by drawing a chord connecting two of the legs. It's counterintuitive, but the heavier the top is the more stable this table will be - it's most likely to tip if someone leans on the edge point furthest from the line connecting two legs. The weight of the top serves to counterbalance the weight on the edge, so the heavier the top the better. Draw it in CAD and you'll see what I mean.