I know to some of you “Simple Construction” sounds like an oxymoron. But this one is about as easy as it gets.
Actually, I am one of those crafters that doesn’t find woodworking to be all that simple. And I don’t really like it all that much.
There; I said it. And I meant it. I hope you don’t think less of me as a DIYer; I just feel like you should know the truth.
It’s all the measuring and cutting that bums me out.
I do love the planning, designing, finishing, and decorating though. (I really should have gotten my degree in design.)
Thankfully, I am lucky enough to know an awesome woodworking enthusiast who doesn’t mind the smell of sawdust or worrying over the preciseness required to saw through a pile of lumber.
There are a lot of reasons I feel pretty lucky to have this guy around, but the amount of money he has saved us by building furniture for our home is what I’m focusing on today. Just look at these awesome projects:
What’s particularly appealing about DIY-ing furniture is that you can make it to fit your needs perfectly and decorate (finish) it exactly the way you want. And usually for less money. Which adds up; furniture is expensive!
Which brings me to how this project came about. I have been using a folding banquet/ craft table for about 6 years now, with varying degrees of satisfaction. At first I was just happy to have a permanent table set up for my (then) new sewing machine. And it was only like 30 bones at Target so I was really happy with the pricetag.
But as the years went on and the projects got more involved, I realized just how annoyed I was by the slightly raised center of the table.
It made laying out and cutting fabric kind of annoying. Especially delicate or slide-y fabric.
More importantly, this table project was all part of a bigger plan to make our loft area functional and inspiring and aesthetically pleasing so that crafty time (and game time for The Hubs) was relaxing and enjoyable.
Soon I will have the reveal of the craft room transformation ready for you to see.
But for now, let’s dive into this craft table tutorial. We’ll start with the tools and supplies lists, then move on to the quick directions in “The Short and Sweet” for those of you who just want an overview of the project and then we’ll get to the step by step directions in “All the Details.”
*A note regarding polyurethane: About a month after we finished the table and got it upstairs we noticed that it took on a slightly yellowed hue. A quick internet search revealed that poly will do that to light colors, especially white. We have plans to sand it down and paint over it when summer is over. Not the end of the world, but annoying and inconvenient. If you chose to paint your table a light color, just skip the polyurethane altogether and go with an extra coat of paint.
The Short and Sweet:
Cut your table top and apron pieces to size and leg pieces to height.
Sand, sand, sand.
Nail the apron pieces to the leg pieces.
Glue the assembled apron and legs to the underside of the table top.
Fill nail holes with wood glue and sand when dry.
Paint and polyurethane. Done.
All the Details:
Before we get started, a fancy shmancy sketch of the table plan that Mr. Berry created.
This right here is the difference between engineers and crafters. He uses a drafting program to plan a project: I use a paper, pencil, and ruler. And sometimes not even a ruler.
Make your cuts.
1. Cut the plywood to 36”x72”. If you don’t have a table saw, the first cut is free at the big home improvement stores so you could have them do it for you. That would also make loading everything into your car a whole lot easier…
(No picture because I was too busy holding the end a giant piece of plywood to fumble with my camera.)
2. Take your 4x4’s and use the miter saw to cut them into 4 pieces a length of 30¼”. These bad boys will be the sturdy legs.
3. Now haul those 1x4’s over and cut 5 pieces to a length of 26½” and 2 pieces to a length of 64”. These will be the short and long apron pieces.
4. Trav’s least favorite part. And really, who can blame him? It’s loud and messy and itchy. But it must be done or your table will be so rough it’ll snag and scratch all of your beautiful projects. Turn on that circular sander and smooth out all surfaces of wood.
Assemble the base.
5. Take two of the legs and glue them, then use the drill to screw the two short (26½”) apron pieces to the outside like so:
(Do the same thing with the other two legs and two of the short apron pieces so you have a set.)
6. Now take those two long apron pieces and set them on the outsides of the two sets of legs you just assembled in the previous step. Make sure you are on a level surface. (That’s woodworker lingo for “even” for all of you woodworker newbs.)
7. Before you go any further with glue and screws you need to check and make sure you’ve got a perfect rectangle. This is something I’ve never done on a wood project I have completed on my own and it’s becoming clear to me why the cat stand I “built” is so rickety. (Oops. Sorry, Bodey.) Don’t skip this step! Take a tape measure and place it on the inside far left corner and measure down to the near inside right corner. Remember your number.
8. Now measure from the inside of the far right corner to the inside of the near left corner. The number should be the same as it was in the last step. If it’s not, try moving one of the pieces in (if the number is too high) or out (if the number is too low). And you have a little wiggle room. As long as your diagonal measurements are within 1/4 “ of each other; you’re good. Clamp them in place so they don’t move around on you, glue ‘em, and screw into place.
9. Add that last short apron piece to the center of the frame of the base. Glue the ends and screw them in place. My husband forgot to come and get me when this step was done so we don’t have a picture of it, but here’s where it would go:
Bust out the wood filler.
10. Fill the screw holes so the apron has a nice finished look later on.
11. Glop that wood filler on the edges of the plywood and use your fingers to fully push it into the grooves.
Don’t worry about it being smooth because the next step is to….
12. Bummer, I know. But this part goes really fast. Once the wood filler has fully set, smooth out the screw holes and side of the table top with the circular sander.
13. Take that piece of plywood (the table top) and lay it writing side up. This will be the underside of the table. Set the assembled legs and apron (the base of the table) on top and center it. Use a tape measure to measure the distance from the apron to the edge of the table on both sides of each corner.Your numbers should all be the same.
14. Once you’ve got that base completely centered, grab a pencil and trace around the base as if it were a stencil. Don’t forget the inside of the main rectangle as well as between the two short sides on each end. We are going to use this as a guide for the glue phase in the next step.
15. Have someone help you lift the base off of the table top and you should see a nice outline of where the base was sitting. Take that wood glue and squeeze it between the pencil lines.
16. Use your finger to spread it out and fill in the stencil you made for an even hold.
17. Add glue to the horizontal surfaces on the top of the base. Smooth that out, too.
18. Turn that base over and match up the top of the base with the pencil lines you made earlier.
19. Use any combination of clamps and extra wood you need to in order to get the base and the top piece flush. You don’t want to see any gaps.
20. Run your finger along where the the base meets the table top in order to remove any excess glue.
Prep and paint.
21. When the glue has fully dried remove the clamps and use a sanding block (or a folded piece of sanding paper) to go over the glue line.
22. Now use a tack cloth (a damp cloth will work if you don’t have one) to wipe off the entire table, paying special attention to areas where you glued and sanded.
23. And now, the fun really begins! Use a roller to apply white paint to the entire base and the underside of the table top that is inside the base. You’ll need to do at least two coats, letting the paint fully dry in between.
24. Apply painter’s tape to the apron where it meets the underside of the table top. Paint the remaining underside of the table top teal. (Or whatever color makes you want to get your craft on.) Again, you’ll want to do two coats here.
25. Use either a roller or brush to apply polyurethane to everywhere that has paint so far. (Not the top of the table.) You’ll want to check the label to make sure you allow for the appropriate amount of dry time in between the first and second coats. (No picture- sorry. Travis is still getting used to calling me out to the garage for step by step pictures.
26. Flip that table over again. (That thing gets heavier every time, doesn’t it?) You may want to set the table legs on towels so you don’t scratch up that fresh paint job.
27. Time to get some color on the top of the table. Roll on the first of two coats of teal paint with the grain of the wood. Otherwise you might have to run back to the store for more paint. Guess how we know…
28. When the paint is dry you can use a roller or brush to apply the first coat of polyurethane. You’re almost done! (Again, no picture- sorry.)
29. When the first coat of poly is fully dry, give the table top a light sanding (220 grit), and apply the second coat of poly. Don’t freak out when the surface looks cloudy. The next coat of poly will make it look clear and smooth again. (I am sure you are so surprised that Travis did not have me take a picture of this step either?)
30. Wipe off the table top and apply the second coat of polyurethane. Allow it to dry fully before touching or moving it.
31. This is optional, but we added these glides on the bottom of the legs to make it nice and easy to slide it around on our tile floor. They work like a charm.
32. Step back and be proud; you made a TABLE! That’s furniture! Which is officially a DIY project. Nice work.
Here’s a breakdown of about what everything will cost:
- Plywood: $30-$35
- 1x4's: $11/ each
- 3x4"s: $9/ each
- Wood Glue: $8
- Wood Filler: $4
- Wood Screws: $8
- Paint: $10/ each
- Polyurethane: $10
- Furniture Glides: $5
That's a grand total of $125- $130! Nice!
Now load it up with your sewing machine, serger, cutting mat, and sewing notions tote for full effect. Nice, right?
I hope this tutorial empowers you to head over to the lumber department and get started making your own craft table. And If it does, I want to see it!
Post it to the flickr group so I can have a looksy.
Happy sawing and glueing and screwing, friends. And whatever you make, make it yours!