We’re woodworkers. We work with wood for the tactile satisfaction, for the love of wood’s appearance, for the grain, and for the warmth, it introduces in a room.
But not everyone feels the same way, and modern materials have insinuated their way into furniture design. Among those materials is glass, as in glass table tops, whether on the dining room table or glass-topped coffee tables in the living room. It’s not our taste, but it can be a part of a woodworking project.
Perhaps you’ve found a beautiful piece of a tree stump and leveled it quite exactly, and decide that with a little sanding and a clear finish, it’s the perfect wooden base for a coffee table with a glass top. Or, you’ve built an elaborate tripod-style base from some turned pieces of wood and want to show it off with a see-through glass top. These table bases will be showcase pieces as a testament to your woodworking ability.
The question then becomes how to safely and securely attach the glass table top to the wooden base. Actually, though, there are other questions to ponder, too. Should you attach it? Won’t gravity hold it in place? How thick is the glass? How heavy is it?
Should You Attach A Glass Tabletop?
Probably, but not necessarily permanently. No matter what the table base is, wood, metal, or composite materials, there is an argument to be made that glass tabletops should not be permanently attached. Gravity can’t be counted on as a permanent solution to attaching
- Portability. If the tabletop is large, or a very heavy piece of glass or the base of the table is large (the tree trunk example, for instance), it’s going to present problems moving it about or moving to another home. Weight and dimensions might interfere with such a move. Being able to break the table down without breaking the glass might be desirable. The specific circumstances of size and weight should be considered before you decide on the method of securing the glass table top.
- Expansion and contraction. We’re woodworkers, and we know that wood expands and contracts as environmental conditions change. The pressure that might exert on the glass tabletop, which does not expand and contract, might lead to a crack or breakage. Of course, this is to be avoided.
Each of these considerations argues against a permanent attachment for that living room coffee table with the glass top. This would eliminate something like an adhesive such as silicone glue; it’s of interest because it dries to a clear finish and blends in with the clear glass. It would also eliminate a polyurethane adhesive.
Permanent Attachment Adhesive Options
If the glass tabletop has an extended overhang, such as with a tripod-type turned-leg wooden base, making the glass secure becomes necessary for safety reasons. If you have children, they’ll be tempted to sit on the glass, and that can lead to injury.
An industrial adhesive might be needed, too, depending on the size and weight of the glass table top. A product like Loctite epoxy adhesive could serve you well for extra adhesive strength.
With these permanent attachment options, you will need to be careful and precise. Mark your spots on both the wooden table base, as you will get just one chance to place the glass on top. Maybe ask a friend to help, too, so the placement is exact. Otherwise, you will see the smudges and extra adhesive through the glass.
Temporary Attachment Options for Glass Table Tops
If you’ve decided that you don’t want to permanently attach the glass table top to a wooden base, there are options that will still provide some safety and security to the piece of furniture. Among them, in no necessary order or rank:
If you are of an age, you will remember that velcro was developed by NASA to hold equipment in place during space missions. It then became popular in clothing, belts, and small gripping tasks around the house. It can be purchased in self-adhesive strips and cut to size for any particular use. It might be hard to find a color strip that matches the wooden table base such that it’s not an eyesore when used to adhere the glass to the wood, but not impossible.
One piece on the wood, one piece on the glass, where you have decided to join the two, and multiple spots to secure the glass will be the plan. Let the pieces sit for a day before you put the glass table top on the wooden base, so you’re sure it has cured. This will keep the glass table top from sliding.
Self-Adhesive rubber bumpers
These discs are self-adhesive to both the wooden table base and the glass table top. They might damage any finish on the wood, but then again, most other temporary solutions on this list could do the same thing. Keep the bumpers clean on the up side (don’t spill anything or leave a fingerprint on it, since the up side will show through the glass table top).
Museum putty, so-called, such as Quakehold, might also work. There’s no way to hide it, though, and you’ll see it through the glass. It’s not as strong as the silicone or polyurethane options, but it should be enough to keep the glass table top from wiggling or sliding.
These temporary attachment methods will give you the option of removing the glass table top from the wooden table base when moving, and a little WD 40 and strong wiping will remove most evidence of their having been used.
Remember, too, the purpose of the temporary attachment methods is to keep the glass from sliding. They will not help if someone sits on the glass over-extension or kids run into it. Some common sense must be exercised, too.
Earlier, we mentioned a tree stump table base with a glass top as a coffee table for the living room. Here’s a video of just such a project. It includes a lot of good woodworking, a little electrical work, and some glass work, and would make a great project in our shop. We’re intrigued enough by it that we might very well take it on someday.
Permanent or temporary is the major decision to make when attaching a glass table top to wood. The size of the glass, its weight, and the type of wooden table base you want to use will help you answer this question. Gravity can’t be relied upon as your solution, and some attachment method will be necessary, even if only to keep the glass from sliding.