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I built a simple desk out of 72" butcher block and H frame metal legs. You can move the table side to side slightly. If I add a 1x4 or 2x4 piece of wood to the back of the legs along the bottom, will that stabilize the table? I guess I know it will stabilize it, but will that be enough to stabilize it?

Sorry for the cord mess in the picture, still trying to get some things for the desk to organize cords better. The red bar is where I'd add in the support. Desk

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  • Are you unwilling/unable to screw it into any of the wall? A few L-brackets would be easy to install and less visible than adding bracing.
    – Khrrck
    Apr 11 at 23:32
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    A "modesty panel" would address side-to-side wobble. It is a panel across the back extending from leg to leg and typically attached to the top. Office desks usually have steel panels, but you could use plywood. The taller it is the stiffer it will be. I would try for half the height of the table.
    – HABO
    Apr 12 at 2:39

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In answer to your question: highly unlikely, your wood on steel connection will not be as fixed as a welded steel on steel one would be, and the resulting structure is not forming triangles either. That combination will continue to make it wobbly.

As mentioned by khrrck in the comments, a couple of brackets and screws into the back wall would solve your problem. As it's just a couple of screws, I wouldn't even consider it a permanently fixated construction. It would take all of 2 minutes to detach if needed.

However, if you're unable or unwilling to fixate it to the wall, a couple of diagonal braces that fixate those steel legs to the wooden surface will go a long way. Preferably four (one in each corner), but two at the back will already help a lot.

At the steel end you can probably get away with drilling a hole through both the wood and the existing leg, and attaching these two components with a long, thick bolt (for example M10). On the other side a bracket with a number of smaller screws (so they do not puncture the butcher block) will probably work best (where the wooden beam is diagonally sawed off so it sits flush on the bottom of the butcher block, for convenience you can use a 45 degree angle, same as the beam as a whole). Assuming you will want the table's surface to align flush with the wall, mount these beams on the 'inside' rather than at the back.

Diagonal and X-brace options

Example diagonal braces in green (smaller in front so they are less in the way) and and example of large X-bracing on the back in yellow.

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  • Triangles for stability! Just made a quick copy-edit of the picture to clarify your excellent answer.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 12 at 0:02
  • Thanks for that, I'm a bit too tired to be photoshopping right now :)
    – MiG
    Apr 12 at 0:03
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    To emphasise: I assume the steel itself is fixed in shape, so two triangles at the back will likely already solve the problem without getting in the way of legs and knees. If not, add two more at the front.
    – MiG
    Apr 12 at 0:05
  • I don't fire up PS nor Gimp for these simple things - Preview on a Mac gets there with a lot less fuss. Not sure what might be equivalent on other OS's.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 12 at 0:05
  • MS paint I suppose... So used to PS that I haven't fired that up in probably a decade though.
    – MiG
    Apr 12 at 0:06

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