2

I see cheap metal legs such as IKEA's ADILS for sale, and I wanted to know if they're considered strong enough for a desk. The scenario is that I have a wood "plate" which I would like to attach legs to and convert it into a desk.

The reason I'm asking is because it seems that the way they're attached to the desk is by attaching a disk with multiple screws, but then attaching the leg to the disk with only one screw. It seems like if I put the table on its side (in order to remove the legs for moving, for example), there will be a lot of pressure from the side until the desk is actually lying on its side, and all of that pressure will be on two screws - one per leg.

So is this type of leg considered good practice for desk legs?

5
  • @GregNickoloff Exactly. That's why I asked if it's considered good practice, because I have to account for both cases.
    – ispiro
    Oct 13 at 13:52
  • I understand. The short answer is: "No." It's done quite frequently, but it doesn't turn out well...especially over time. Oct 13 at 13:57
  • 2
    You're getting lots of good advice here, but this is entirely a matter of opinion. VTC.
    – isherwood
    Oct 13 at 14:15
  • Are you making an actual desk for working? Please consider that a single wooden board may lack stiffness and make a poor, wobbly desk. This is the reason desks and tables usually have some sort of a frame under the board, unless they are made of something a bit thicker or stiffer. That depends on the exact board you use and the size of the table, so YMMV, but it's a thing to consider.
    – Frax
    Oct 14 at 8:41
  • The tabletops for which these IKEA legs are designed (if it's anything like the several I have) are made from super light-weight hollow board, basically slightly stronger than cardboard. It's probably perfectly fine to have it on its side long enough to attach the legs, as one person can easily lift it and turn it upright afterwards. If it were a real wooden tabletop, though, it'd be a different matter since it's so much heavier. Oct 14 at 13:59
5

"Strong enough" is a hard question to answer.

There's two kinds of "strong" here. One is the strength against pushing straight down on the desk, and the other is pushing to the side (laterally) against the length of the legs.

Because the legs are individually attached at essentially one point, the legs act as levers when forces are applied laterally to the legs. The longer the legs, the stronger the "lever action".

Even if you got the threaded connections as tight as humanly possible, the lever action of the length of the leg would make short work of loosening up the connection--either between the leg and the mounting bracket, or the bracket and the desktop. Especially if the desktop is particle board, MDF, or a soft wood. There just isn't enough "connection" to resist racking over time.

This is why most tables/desks are built with "stretchers" or "skirting" (whatever you choose to call it) connecting the legs together at another point besides where they connect to the top surface. This makes all the legs a single "unit" which effectively becomes a "box" of sorts when attached to the tabletop (desktop) at more than one point and is a much more resilient arrangement which stands up to lateral stresses much better.

So, while IKEA and other manufacturers sell thousands of such legs, the answer is: No, it is not a good practice. The furniture built this way will fail sooner than it would if built conventionally.

Related questions:

Wobbly desk with IKEA tabletop and IKEA legs

Stable Legs for Desk

Stopping a standing desks from rocking

2
  • Stretchers don't prevent racking (turning a rectangle into a parallelogram), or at least not on their own. With sensible fixings they do at least spread the load. The last desk I built was all ikea bits, but only the top was sold as a desk part; all the rest was offcuts and repurposed stuff. That has stringers, shelves in fact on one side, making a decent box section there. I still lifted it up to right it, rather than tipping it over the end.
    – Chris H
    Oct 14 at 14:32
  • @ChrisH - Yes, you are absolutely right about lifting it to right it. Oct 14 at 14:43
7

You're not suppose to attach a table's legs with the table on its side.

The legs are never designed for that kind of stress. You're talking about a leg that is at least a meter long.

The proper way to attach them is with them flipped over, and, with multiple people, flip the table upright without leaning it on its side.

If you really must assemble a table by yourself, best to prop it up from the bottom and attach the legs that way. You shouldn't attach two legs and then prop it up sideways, because no legs are designed to handle that kind of stress and will break.

5
  • Thanks. I didn't know that. And is it considered good practice (to use this kind of legs)?
    – ispiro
    Oct 13 at 13:53
  • 2
    @ispiro I've used these Ikea legs, and they feel fairly sturdy. Do keep in mind that the tops they are designed for are a hollow, and very light material. Also, most of what Ikea does is "how can we do this as cheap and light as possible", rather than "what is good practice".
    – JPhi1618
    Oct 13 at 14:18
  • 3
    @JPhi1618 That's not giving IKEA enough credit. What they are doing, and better than most, is "designing from first principles" - which is the golden standard. Oct 14 at 8:17
  • With a light (hollow) top on sturdy legs it's possible to assemble upside down then take most of the weight while righting it, even with one person. And it's not the legs that would break anyway, but the attachment point.
    – Chris H
    Oct 14 at 14:28
  • @StianYttervik I realize it didn't sound great, but I what I meant is that they don't design for the same things a DIY or woodworker would have to design to. Their furniture is fine and designed to very exact standards, but some of the things they are able to do because of precision and custom designed connectors aren't the same things you can do yourself. They don't follow a lot of the "good practices" that a typical DIY person would need to make a sturdy piece.
    – JPhi1618
    Oct 14 at 14:54

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.