01. Press-fit: Tripod-side table

Edrie Ortega []

Machine: Shopbot

Material: 1/2″ Plywood ( on 4’x4′ sheet)

End Mill: 1/4″ Straight


The goal was to design a table that would function and hold together without glue, nails, or screws. Every part must be “press fitted” into place. An additional personal design challenge was making a table with three legs. Designing a three legged table further challenged the weight/load distribution.

A precedent that was sought was Noon Studio’s tripod table (view link section). Their design however had one of the legs puncture out and through the top of the table. Exploring a way to not have a leg go through the top was a goal.


Shown Below:

Top, Elevation, Cutsheet on a 30″ x 40″ x 1/2 MDF

3 Main parts: Top and 2 legs

All the pieces are milled out. Time for sanding and pressing!

All openings had a tight fit. Sanding was a whole process of it’s own in order for all the necessary pieces to fit.

The base stands…well kind of….

The biggest issue was the legs sliding in every direction. There was nothing at the crossing point that stabilized the legs.

Now when the top is placed…

The openings on the table top were not large enough for the legs to press through. That was an error for not drawing in t-bones in the corners of the openings. Therefore the top is shown to merely be placed on top.  The weight of the MDF is extremely heavy. The legs slip out underneath and is clearly unstable.

Evidence of damage and poor weight distribution.  Luckily the finished product will be made out of plywood. Yay for lighter material!


There were two goals for the next and final design in attempt to build this tripod table.

1. Improve connection where legs cross to add stability

2. Revise relationship between top and legs to improve connection and create unity/balance.

Table Top dimensions were designed smaller while legs were designed wider.

“Teeth” connection was placed where the legs intersect to solve the sliding out and sideways issue.

What’s great about the design of the table is that 2 of them can be produced on a 4’x8′ sheet of ply.


With the revisions made, the table is a success!


The Next Step:


4.196 Special Problems in Architectural Design Complete Fabrications Nick Gelpi Mon-Fri, Jan 5-7, 10-11, 13-14, 18, 20-21, 24-25, 27-28, 01-04:00pm, 3-402/7-432studio, 1st mtg Wed 1/5 Pre-register on WebSIS and attend first class. No listeners Prereq: Permission of instructor ; Yr-1 MArch students who have completed 4.123 only Level: H 9 units Standard A - F Grading Can be repeated for credit Lab Fee: 150 A comprehensive introduction to methods of “making” explored through a wide range of brief but focused exercises. Skills = developing complex geometries from flat components; fine-tuning press fit construction, molding and casting, and making repeatable molds for customization. A two-part workshop, the first half will contextualize contemporary tools and techniques within the trajectories of historical case studies of building, combined with hands on familiarization of tools. The second half will implement the tools of our workshop in the context of Design. Working on group design build process for three MIT 150 FAST installations, students will test and influencing designs through the instrumentality of production. These hands-on design build projects are intended to produce reciprocity between skills and design, making more complete the problems of fabrication. Subject limited to year-one MArch students who have completed core-1 studio. Contact: Nick Gelpi, 9-224, 253-9415, -


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