Adventures in Table Making – Part 1


Enough about my Home Office Makeover.  I’m taking things slow and having to make a few purchases or builds, which will require waiting for my April Budget.   I might even try my hand at upholstering some slipper chairs that I want to build/add to my office.

When I decide to build, I look for plans that I can use to make what I want and then I read them and read them and read them again until I can make it in my sleep.  At that point, I feel comfortable tweaking the plans to suit my liking.

Remember when I mentioned building a desk/table for my bedroom in this post?  I found a plan here, on, which is a great site for plans to build beautiful and functional furniture.

The dimensions shown were a bit larger than I had in mind for the space.   I was looking to create something more of a sofa-table-sized desk to put against that wall and anchor my artwork.  I loved this long lean look.

So I did a mock up of the size that I was thinking to ensure that it was truly a functional depth and length.  I used 8 ft cedar fence boards (because that is all I had and didn’t want to cut them down) and then used a small table that I shimmed with boards to get the height that was in the original plan.  Here is the mock up.

Desk Mock Up

The 8 ft length was more than I wanted for that area, so I decided to shorten the length to 66 inches (a few inches in each direction wider than the artwork) and shorten the depth to 20 inches so that it didn’t interfere with the normal flow of traffic into my bedroom.

There are many reasons I picked this plan.  The first reason was the wonderful tapered legs which I knew would be a beautiful detail and a challenge to my skill set.  And it was both!  …. more to come in Part II of this blog.

In reading through the plans for this table, each of the table top pieces are attached individually to the frame to create a table top.   I wanted to take those single pieces and make a solid table top and this differentiation was my second reason for choosing this plan.


Starting with 8 – 1×3’s (which measure ¾ x 2 ½) to reach that 20 inch depth. (vs the 4 – 1×8 boards in Ana’s design which I would have had to rip boards down the middle or modify my dimensions)

Ready to be a Table Top

True that I could have just used a piece of birch plywood cut to fit…. but where is the fun in that!?!

I lined up the boards, without cutting to size yet, by the short sides and put a bead line of glue between them.  Then I clamped them together using  scrap boards to keep the 1×3’s from squeezing out.

Be sure not to clamp them too tight or all the glue will be pushed out and the table top will eventually break.  Allow the bond to set overnight.

It would have been sweet had the boards all lined up prettily and gave a smooth top from the start….

Before Sanding

So, it took some work with the belt sander to smooth out the unevenness and make a top that looks seamless.


Using a belt sander with a 50 Grit Course Sanding Belt (which is used for surface leveling and paint removal), I smoothed down the ridges on both sides of the table top.  This was a slow process.  I worked on it for about 15 minutes at a time  for 3 evenings and I made sure that I used a dust collector, hearing protection, protective lenses and a dust mask.  I think I scared the children.

After getting the ridges smoothed, I switched to an 80 Grit Medium Sanding Belt  and sanding again and finally a 120 Grit Fine Sanding Pad with my small sander to smooth the surface.

Next, I cut the table top to length using a straight edge and a circular saw.


When I mocked up the table using the Cedar Fence Planks, I was drawn to the warm color of the cedar and how well it matched the other furniture in my room.  So, I bought a few different stains and tested them out on scrap wood.

First I applied Pre-Stain Wood conditioner to the scrap wood then a coat or two of stain.  I tried both Golden Pecan and Cherry.

The Golden Pecan on the left is too light and the Cherry is too red.  So I did a blend of the two…… Cherry on the bottom and two coats of Golden Pecan on top.

And that gave me the warm rich color I was looking for.

With 1 Cherry Coat

First I applied Pre-stain to the board and then wiped off the excess.  Then, I applied the Cherry stain with a brush, waited 10 minutes and wiped off the excess with a soft cloth.

Next, I applied the Golden Pecan with a brush and then wiped off the excess after 10 minutes to get this effect.  I was very happy with a single coat of Golden Pecan over the Cherry.

After staining, I applied two coats of satin Poly with a brush allowing each coat to dry overnight and light sanding between coats.  I had bubbles show up in my poly as I was brushing it on.  Most the bubbles disappeared when it was dry.

After two coats of Satin Poly

The Table Top is now ready for a base.  Which will be Part II later this week.

Project Costs

8 – 1×3’s -Select Pine – $57

2 – Cans Stain – $6

1 – Can Pre-Stain – $5

Paint Brush – $6

Total Costs:   $74

I already had:

Gorilla Glue


Have you ever taken on a project just because you knew it would challenge your skill level?  I did with this project.  Making a solid smooth table top with sticks of wood was an amazing experience.

Have a great week and reach for the unknown.


2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Adventures in Table Making – Part II « Single Mom Thriving

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