DIY Table Top
No special tools - easy!
I'm going to show you all the details (yes - all of them) to turning a garage sale find into something special.
First of all, I need to give credit to Eliesa at PinterestAddict.com for the cool herringbone design with the multiple colors. She did a great headboard project which was all the inspiration I needed. Find it here: http://www.apinterestaddict.com/2014/09/18/diy-herringbone-headboard/
With that said, there are some very significant differences to doing a table vs. a headboard. We'll look at each in detail.
1. What we had to start with
We found this table without a top at a local garage sale. We got it for $10 and you can see the lower "shelf" is in rough shape. We used 3/4 inch plywood for the foundation of the table top. Don't get cheap on this part, if the table can flex, it's going to lead to issues down the road.
2. How big?You would think that would be an easy one, but there is actually some math involved in figuring it out. You see, if you want the sides to look even, you'll need to do some measuring. This is what I mean:
There is an easy way to do this. Because the boards are all set at a 45 degree angle, we need to know how long the edge of the board will be when cut.
Once you have that distance, make your width a multiple of that number. Example: Let's say that you would like your table to be about 32 inches wide (before the frame) and your measured angle is 3.5 inches. You could narrow your table top to 31.5 inches to come out to a perfect 9 boards. You could also go with 10 boards and center them (leaving 1.5 inches to cut on each side).
So that's the table width and you can do the same thing for the length. For me, I knew that as long as I had the width right, I could center the length later.
3. The BaseIt's all about that base and this is no different. Once we cut the 3/4 inch plywood to the size we wanted, we added corner cleats so we could easily attach it to our frame. We also added a thin piece of wood around the edges for strength and as a fastening point for our finished frame.
Anywhere where wood touches wood, it's fastened with glue and screws. Make sure you clean up your glue drips before they dry.
4. Cutting the StripsIt's important to understand that we didn't use any fancy tools for this project. We used a circular saw, a table saw, a chop saw, and a cordless drill. You also need to know that we used the CHEAP lumber from Home Depot. This means that the wood had some bow in it, some twist, and they weren't all the same thickness or width. That made it interesting during assembly.
The important thing to know when cutting your strips is the length has to be five times the width of your boards (straight across measurement). This will give you that perfect herringbone effect. If you have a chop saw, carefully clamp a stop block to make quick work of cutting all your strips to exactly the same size. Here is a sample of what I'm talking about (for this project, we're obviously working with longer pieces):
Once they're all cut, take a few minutes to hit the cut edges with a little sandpaper. You don't need to go nuts over it, just get the splinters off.
5. StainingWe used 5 different colors of stain. I know that the light ones look unstained but they really do have a coating on them. You could just save the money from buying the light color and just stick with the natural wood. When I say "we" in this project, here are my two helpers:
6. LayoutAre you ready to start feeling really good about the project? Lay it out using the 45 degree angle side of a speed square. Take a few minutes to adjust your centers in both directions.
Play with the color mix until you get it how you like it. Once you have it, remove it in a way you can easily put it back (easier said than done).
7. Glue and ScrewIt's important to pick out screws witch won't stick through the top. Yes, we screwed it from the bottom so there would be no holes on the top. Use plenty of glue and clean up as you go.
Another important note is that you want to pre-drill the plywood before setting each piece. We would put one piece down, trace it, drill two holes inside the trace lines, remove the saw dust, glue, then screw. Make sure your drill bit is BIGGER than the threads of your screw so it can pull the board down firmly against the plywood. You also need to be sure to fit these pieces as tightly as possible. When we put this together, its easy to see the differences in board width and thickness. For the ones which were too wide, we shaved them as needed on the table saw. The ones which were to narrow, we centered in the space to minimize the appearance of the crack.
Because some boards were warped, we clamped boards where it was needed.
We let the glue dry for a couple days before the trim up.
8. Trimming up the Table TopThis part was a lot of fun because it really started looking like a table. You can see below that we used a straight edge to guide the circular saw. The saw went through the top, plywood, and the lower face board.
When making these cuts, you may get some tear out (below). You can go over those areas with the stain and it hides it pretty well. You could also use a finer saw blade, go slower, or use a melamine support on the bottom of the saw to minimize tear out.
9. Frame it upNext, we made a simple frame and glued it using dowels for support. Clamp the work and give it a day or two to dry.
10. Clear Coat and the Table BaseOnce it was dry, we gave it a couple coats of polyurethane (exterior grade). I put it on thick enough to soak into the cracks and really bond the piece together. We also sprayed the base and hit that lower shelf with a coat of stain.
And then it was DONE! This project cost about $70 but I have a lot of stain and clear coat left over.