The Finished Product (so you keep reading)
So I moved into a new place and need furniture (which you might tell from the background of some of these photos). But, I kept looking at big box store stuff and it was expensive and poorly made. So I figured I could build something myself for cheaper and it would last longer! Plus I get to build something, which is half the fun.
Step 1: Find Inspiration
Step 2: Design Your Own
I drew out a bunch of hand sketches to figure out dimensions and proportions. I actually wandered through a couple furniture stores and checked their measurements for a 6 person table… I also measured the room its going in to make sure I had space to get around it.
Then I pulled out my middle school drafting skills and an engineer’s scale to see if everything would work and kind of went from there.
Step 3: Buy Material
This was something like 45 board feet of 6/4 cherry that I had roughly planed. By this point in the project I didn’t really know if I wanted rough cut lumber or if I was going to plane/sand/joint the whole top together as one solid piece.
First part of the bill, $200 for all this wood.
Step 4: Rough Layout
I bought most of this material before I actually had a scale drawing I liked and before I had final measurements that I was going to build to. So I rough cut these to 66/68 inches long as I knew I would end up losing a bit of length during glue up.
Step 5: Build the Legs
Substep 5.1: Miter the steel for the legs.
The legs were 1×3 inch steel tube. 24 inch for the width and 36 inch stock cut to 29 inches long. So that plus the ~1.5 inch table top would be right about 30 inches high. (which seems about standard)
You can also see one of the dimensional sketches I carried around for reference.
Something like $120 for all the steel.
Substep 5.2: Learn to Weld
(Something something, draw an owl.)
My uncle taught me how to weld a year or so ago to build a similar looking entry way table so I had some experience welding before this. Plus I can soldier, which is nearly the same thing.
This was my first attempt at welding the whole set of legs into a square structure.
This was the second set of legs. This set went a lot smoother as I figured out the process a bit and got into a groove for welding.
I also welded on the little tabs which I drilled out for 1/4 inch lag bolts.
Substep 5.3: Grind.
Lots of grinding. Also I ground my name into the underside of one leg to sign my piece. I also finished these with a clear matte finish so that they wouldn’t rust.
Step 6: Assemble the Table Top
At this point I decided that I wanted to edge joint everything together and I wanted the top smooth so I didn’t get little crap in the gaps. So I took it back to Kettle Moraine Hardwoods and had them plane the rough lumber down to 1 3/8 inch and straight edge both sides. Then I put everything together once more for a rough layout.
Substep 6.1: Biscuits and Glue
A hearty breakfast?
Because the boards were still kind of rough as I didn’t plane them down enough to get all the warp out of them, I decided to use biscuits to help the glue up and keep the top aligned and flat so that once I had to finish it I didn’t loose any more thickness. Also I tried to match up colors a bit differently than when I had rough boards.
(Side note, remember to alternate grain on each board to help prevent cupping)
Substep 6.2 Sanding
So here it is after glue up. To save myself a bunch of time I took it back to Kettle Moraine Hardwoods as they have a 42 inch drum sander you can use for a couple bucks in shop fees. Then I transported it to the Makerspace to use the panel saw to square up the ends and sand it again to finish. (40 grit drum sander, 80 grit -> 180 grit -> 320 grit on the palm sander)
Step 7: Finish
I really like oil based finishes as they bring out lot of the natural color and figure of the wood. Plus I had some lying around from that entry way table I mentioned earlier so I knew how the finish would turn out. (Velvit Oil)
You can see the difference in color (sorry for the poor color balance) but the cherry has a beautiful redness to it. I also applied Paste Wax to the top as extra insurance against stains and water, etc.
Step 8: Attach Legs
I kind of eyeballed this. But I did use a square and my engineer’s scale to try to align everything as best as possible. I did pre-drill holes for the lag bolts as there would be no way the bolts go in without them.
Step 9: Celebrate!
Also I stood on the table to make sure it was stable, and it was. So that worked out.
With perhaps more natural lighting.
And a close up of some of the figure in the cherry.
So for $350 in materials ($200 for wood with lots left over, $120 for metal, $30 for shop fees) I built a table I’m pretty satisfied with. Plus its way cooler than MDF crap with veneer or paint to cover up crappy wood. And should last quite a while… I hope.