I distinctly remember sitting in trigonometry class and thinking snidely that it was a complete waste of my time. It was at the height of my “teenage rebellion” and I was probably wishing I’d skipped school that day to hang out with my boyfriend (who, of course, had already gotten his GED in juvie. Shout out to Brad if you’re reading this!). Well, eleven years later I find myself watching youtube videos on how to use cosin in the name of decorating. It all started out when I saw this table online and thought I could recreate something similar, but with the proportions of a nightstand instead of a coffee table:

I was able to find a tabletop, copper pipe, and elbow fittings with no problems, but the piece in the middle where they all come together eluded me. So then I thought I would make one like this instead:

But that would require me to go back to the store for y-fittings and more pipe, as the ten foot length that I bought wouldn’t be enough to make four 27″ legs and have enough left over for the stretchers. So then I thought I would do this:

A three-legged table with angled legs coming out from the center. I kind of liked the modern feel of it and figured it wouldn’t be too difficult. This is where the trigonometry comes in-I needed to figure out at what angle to cut the legs and how long to make them. Feel free to LOL at my work below if you are actually a math person.

I was so proud of myself for figuring out that I wanted a 30° angle between the leg and the table, only to have my spirit crushed when I realized I had no idea what that meant for cutting the pipe. So I texted my math-whiz friend Sarah (note to all of my other friends who are good at math-you are all good at math. Please don’t be hurt that I didn’t text you instead) and I think she was kind of confused by the diagrams I kept sending her. She said things like, “Umm…what are the things in that picture?” And then she drew a diagram of her own but she still didn’t know the answer. She eventually just suggested I make something like this instead, cutting the legs at just a 15° angle:

Design for Mankind

Yes, that does look quite a bit easier. I think I’ll do that, I guess? This is where you guys come in. How should I attach the legs to the table? Am I making this more complicated than it needs to be? Between this and some coding issues on my blog math and science are giving me quite the beating this week. Yesterday I felt like I’d been working hard through Jack’s entire afternoon nap, then I looked up and realized the house was in shambles and I had accomplished absolutely nothing. Trigonometry and CSS for the win. I don’t know what I’d do without all the technically-inclined folks in my life helping me out!

10 responses to Turns Out Trigonometry is Useful, After All

1. Love the inspiration table, but if it were me, I’d go with four legs over three. They are just more stable. And bedside I wouldn’t want the legs sticking out like they would if were a tripod. That’s just me. And something to think about.

• Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap September 26, 2013 at 10:34 am

Yes, I definitely don’t want them sticking out! That was part of my trigonometry diagram-I want the end of the leg to be even with the edge of the table. Sorry my sketch wasn’t entirely accurate, haha.

2. They sell legs and brackets at Home Depot & Lowes! Easy peasy…

• Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap September 27, 2013 at 10:23 am

You know, that’s not a bad idea. I’d initially written them off because I wanted something taller and somehow incorporating metal but I seem to have fallen down a project rabbit-hole here.

3. maybe you can use a copper T? somehow strap the top of the t (on each side) to the table with conduit strap, then insert the leg into the bottom. I’m not making sense.
But if you get what I’m saying, you should be able to adjust the leg to whatever angle you
need at that point for each leg.
Don’t know how stable it would be.
search conduit strap on home depot and copper t and what I’m saying might make sense.

4. oops.
search “copper pressure t”

5. my mind is fried.
search “copper pressure tee”
it needs those stupid two ee’s on the end.

• Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap September 27, 2013 at 10:32 am

Mary, you are a genius. That’s definitely the easiest method of creating the angle that anyone has suggested so far. I’m not sure how to stabilize it, though. Seems like the legs might all splay out if I put any pressure on the top.

6. flagpole brackets?
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Prime-Line-1-in-Brass-Plated-Steel-Flagpole-Bracket-U-10021/203032927#.UkYZKBAQo3o