Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Display Tables

This was a great little project.  We spotted these miniature tables a while back, and knew this was something we wanted to build.  We even decided to build an extra set as a birthday present!  The materials were simple and easy to find, and it gave us a great chance to play with some different finishing techniques.

The blog I linked to has all the information you need, including the cut lists.  I built six of these (two of each size), using the same sizes as she posted on her blog.  

First step, cut everything to size.  As I've said before, stop blocks are your friend here; these all need to be exactly the same.  The only thing to be careful with is the 1x2 pieces that aren't the same length as the 1x4s - these are supposed to be the end caps of the tables, and should be cut to match the width of the table top (three 1x4s plus the two side aprons).  Cut those last of all, after measuring the width of the tabletop pieces.

Second step, lay out the parts in whatever manner you like best; watch for warp, knots, twist, or anything else you don't like.  If you're going to stain, make sure that the grain pattern is the way you want it; also, watch for one side that might be smoother than the others (and save you time in the long run).  If you're going to sand the pieces, now is the time to do so. 

Once you're happy with the layout, mark up your pieces for some pocket holes (or your joinery method of choice).  I chose to drill one hole in each end of the long boards, and a hole every few inches for the sides of the outside pair.  From a workflow perspective, it's easiest to lay out and drill all the holes at once.

Screw everything together for the tops (or, if you prefer to use glue and nails, follow the steps on Being Brook's blog).  

The legs on my table were ripped on the table saw from regular 2x stock (you could also buy 2x2's).  Fastening these was harder than I anticipated; I tried to play around with glue and brad nails, but the end result wasn't terribly secure.  In the end, finish nails (or screws) from the top of the boards is your best bet.  I was trying to avoid the need for wood filler, but it was more of a hassle than it was worth. 

Assemble all of your tables. 

The finishing technique was fun!  We had tried to get this look on the original sawhorse desk, but couldn't get it right.  A bunch of different blogs recommended applying the under-coat, then dabs of Vaseline (or soap) in a random pattern, then the top coats (finishing by wiping or sanding away the Vaseline-covered areas and exposing the darker colors underneath).  It worked out pretty well. 

We sprayed on a brown coat first - we probably didn't need to use this much paint, since we only exposed it around edges and a few other spots.  

Next, we applied Vaseline in random patterns, and sprayed on a white coat.  Samantha was better with the Vaseline. 

The final look was very cool!  The tables have already been used twice, at a bridal shower for a friend, and a birthday party for our son (watch for a blog post from Samantha about the decorations).  

We're pretty happy with them.  The only thing I would change if I was doing it again would be the size - we assumed (incorrectly) that the original cut list on Brook's site would let us nest the tables underneath each other.  If I'd noticed it earlier, I would have adjusted the lengths accordingly.  I think by adding 2" to the largest table's length, and 1" from the medium table, they would fit - but measure and see.  

And, that's a wrap!  A super simple project that was quite rewarding - few tools, fewer materials, and some room to experiment. 

Tool List:
Table Saw (optional: only necessary if you want to rip the 2x2 and 1x2 pieces down from larger stock)
Miter Saw
Kreg Jig
Nail Gun (Brad or Finish nailer)

Material List:
Spray Paint (we used three cans of white and two of brown for six tables)
1x4 - 11 feet
1x2 - 13 feet (or you can use 6.5 feet of 1x4, cutting the pieces to length and then ripping them down)
2x2 - 5 feet (or 2.5 feet of scrap 2x4 stock, cutting the pieces to length and then ripping them down)

Idea Sources:


  1. I love what you did for his first birthday!
    -Melissa Grayum

  2. They turned out great! thanks for trying my tutorial and sharing the results me with!