As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.
This project was designed to not require a large assortment of tools. In fact, a table saw was the only large tool used in building this table. A drill, a sander, and a miter saw were also used, but the drill was the only mandatory other tool. This project is small enough that you could sand it by hand, removing the need for a sander. Also, all the miter saw cuts could also be made using the table saw.
The joinery was accomplished using a pocket-hole jig, which makes for quick and simple joinery. However, a biscuit joiner, or a dowel jig, could also be used, with just about the same ease of construction. Or, you could even drill and use screws, and then plug the holes with wood plugs.
The final requirement was that all the lumber had to be easily available from a store. There is NO planing or jointing or resawing of any kind required to build this table.
Here is a 3D view from Sketchup of the design that I created, staying within the requirements mentioned above. Just because I had to stick with store-bought wood, and costs were keeping me to basic pine, did not mean that I had to produce a boring square clunky ugly project. I was determined to add some flair. By mixing a painted base with a natural-finished top, and by adding a simple little taper to the bottom of the legs, and by adding a cluster of dowels along the sides to give a hint of Mission styling... All of these features work together, I think, to produce a simple yet stylish project.
Here are a few more views of the plan:
Laminated panels come in various sizes. A 14"x24" piece is required for the top, so choose accordingly. Take your time and sort through the pile to find one you like, taking into account the number and placement of knots, as well as the grain pattern of the pieces making up the panel. Use the table saw to crosscut it to 24" and then rip it to 14" in width.
(Pictured here is a sample of a laminated pine panel, it is not an actual photo of the top being constructed.)
Before going any further, cut out the taper at the base of each leg. First, position the legs as they will be arranged in the finished table, and put identifying marks on each of them, so that you can preserve this arrangement. On the two outside edges of each leg, make a mark 1" in from the outside corner. Make another mark 3" up from the bottom, and connect the two marks. This should define the angle of the taper. Using a jigsaw (or a bandsaw or the miter saw) cut along the two lines to taper the legs. (SEE DIAGRAM)
Now would be a good time to sand all the parts, before any pieces are glued together. Start at 80 or 100 grit and proceed to 150 grit sandpaper.
Lay out the stretchers and mark which will be the top and which the bottom stretchers. Drill two pocket holes in the end of each stretcher. It would be a good idea to offset the holes in the short stretchers, so the screws won't interfere with those in the long stretchers where they enter the legs. Also, drill pocket holes along the inside top edge of the top stretchers, for attaching the top to the table later on. Take care with your pocket hole depths, as the holes for attaching the top need to be shallower than the ones for the legs. Take the time to first drill test holes in scrap pieces to see how things will go together, and to verify depth settings on the jig.
The next step is to drill the holes for the five spindles. Mark the hole locations very carefully in all four stretchers; two holes centred 5" in from each end, two holes centred 7" in from each end, and one hole centred 9" in from the end -- the centre of the board. Use a Forstner bit and carefully drill a 5/8" diameter hole 1/2" deep at each location. It is important that all holes be the same depth.
Cut ten sections of 5/8" dowel to 11" in length. Cutting dowel can be tricky, as the dowel can easily turn while cutting. Use another piece of wood to trap the dowel and help keep it immobile. I happened to have some U-shaped wooden track from a previous project, which worked well. Use a stop (see the photo) when cutting the pieces, which helps make sure all of the dowels are the exact same length
Wipe some glue inside each spindle hole, insert the spindles and clamp the stretchers together. Measure from corner to corner and make sure that the stretcher assembly is square!
To hide the pocket holes, dab some glue in each hole and insert a pine pocket-hole plug. Once dry, cut or chisel flush, and sand smooth. After finishing, the holes will almost disappear.
In this photo the table is assembled, but the pocket holes in the lower stretcher have not yet been filled. Note that you only really need to fill the pocket holes in the upper stretcher, as the pocket holes in the top stretcher are never seen, unless you turn the table over.
Waterbased finish will raise the grain, which is why you must sand between coats. The first coat of finish is the worst, since the grain on the bare wood raises so much. After the 2nd coat, there is very little roughness, so just a light touch with the sandpaper will knock down any rough spots. After the final coat I sometimes let it harden for a few days, then dribble on a few drops of water and buff/sand it with a 3M Scotch-brite pad (or similar product) The water lubricates the pad a bit and helps take away any dust that is raised from polishing. After that wipe it dry.
That is about all there is to building this table. A few more photos and notes follow...
Note that there is NO ALLOWANCE made for joinery methods in these diagrams or dimensions. That works fine if you use pocket-hole joinery, as I did. If you decided to use mortise and tenon, for instance, you will need to adjust the length of your stretchers.
|Top Panel||11/16" x 14" x 24"||1|
|Leg||1-1/2" x 1-1/2" x 21-1/4"||4|
|Spindle (Dowel)||5/8" diam x 11"||10|
|Long Stretcher||1-1/2" x 3" x 18"||4|
|Short Stretcher||1-1/2" x 3" x 8"||2|
This project was designed and built in 2008. An article about it was published in the Winter 2009 issue of Canadian Home Workshop Magazine. I also produced a very brief web page at the time, so as not to compete with the magazine.
The magazine has since ceased publication, so that link to the magazine will probably disappear at some unknown point in the future.
Thanks for reading!