Building an end table or set of matching end tables is a simple task that even the beginning woodworker can accomplish in a few short hours. This piece will help you to build a small end table and with some modifications to the measurements below, you can use this same technique to build a night stand, a plant stand, or even a coffee table. With a few basic hand tools, the required materials and a few hours in the workshop, you can produce a matching set of end tables, a coffee table and plant stand.
The list of materials that you need to finish one 2 x 2 x 3 end table is below.
§ 1 – 24 inch x 24 inch x ½ inch furniture quality plywood
§ 1 – ½ inch x 10 foot molding of your choice
§ 16 – 3/8 inch wood screws
§ 12 – 1 inch finishing nails
§ 4 – 36 inch legs with attaching hardware (available at Lowe’s or Home Depot)
§ Wood putty
§ Sand paper
§ Finish of your choice (paint, stain, or varnish)
In addition to the list of materials that you will need, there are some tools that you will use for this project. Here is a list of tools that you will need to complete your project.
§ Wood file
§ Hand saw and miter box (or a power miter saw)
§ Set punch
§ Phillips screw driver
§ Straight edge
§ Finishing tools (i.e. paint brush, rags, etc)
§ Safety glasses
§ Putty knife
Begin by choosing the best “finished side of your 2 x 2 x ½ inch piece of plywood. Choose the side with the fewest defects or the most interesting grain pattern of wood (if you are staining or varnishing the wood). This won’t matter as much if you are painting the piece. Next, using a 45 degree miter box or 45 degree angle of your power miter saw, cut a piece of ½ inch trim so that the inside of the 45 degree angle is on the flat surface of the trim. Measure 24 inches from the inside (flat piece) of the trim and cut your second 45 degree angle (opposite direction of the first cut). This will leave you with a trim piece that will mount flush on the side (the exposed layers) of the plywood with two 45 degree angles of trim protruding from the corners. Cut the remaining three pieces of trim in the same fashion and lay out the pieces to ensure that the angles match and that you have cut the correct lengths. If a piece is a little too short, this can be filled later with putty, however if a piece is too long, it will prevent the trim from being mounted flush against the surface of the plywood and will cause the trim piece to bow. Use a wood file to take off a little of the excess while maintaining the 45 degree angle.
Once all of the trim pieces have been fitted, you will need to lay out your finishing mails, hammer, nail punch and glue. Apply a bead of glue along the plywood edge as well as the trim piece and smear this with your finger. Apply the trim piece to the edge of the plywood and use three finishing nails to secure the trim piece into place. Wipe off the excess glue with a damp rag. Set each nail with the nail punch so that the nail head can be covered with wood putty. Continue gluing and fastening the wood trim to the table top for the remaining three pieces. Pay attention to the “direction” of the trim and make sure that the finished side will be up and match the nicest side of the plywood.
Turn the tabletop over (face down) and draw a line on each side of the table (using a straight edge) two inches from the outside edge. When you have finished drawing all four lines, they should intersect each other and create a smaller square inside of a larger square. Use the edges of the smaller square to line up the four mounting brackets for the table legs. Using 3/8 inch screws (screws that are shorter than the table is thick so that the screw heads don’t poke through the table top) fasten the leg mounting brackets ensuring that they are lined up with the corners that you drew in pencil. Once all four brackets are mounted, screw the table legs into the metal leg mounts.
The building of the table is complete and you can now stain or paint the table to the desired color or you can continue to add an additional detail piece.
To provide a more refined and finished look to the table, you can add additional trim to the underside of the table. This will add stability to your table top and prevent it from warping (especially important in a larger pieces such as a coffee table) and will help disguise the mounting brackets of the legs. To finish this step, you will need the following materials.
1 – 8 foot x 2 inch by ½ inch piece of wood (that matches the wood type of your trim and legs)
12 – 2 inch wood screws
In addition, you will need the following tools to complete this step.
¼ inch drill bit
Phillips screw driver
Begin by cutting two pieces of the timber to the length of 22 inches and two pieces of the timber to 21 inches. On the ½ inch edge of each piece of trim, drill three evenly spaced (and centered on the ½ inch width) holes with the ¼ inch drill bit no deeper than ½ inch. This will allow the 2 inch wood screws to pass through the 2 inch thick wood into the bottom of the tabletop without piercing the top of the table. Lay out the pieces of wood on the bottom side of the table top with the two 18 inch pieces across (and parallel) from each other and the two 17 inch pieces across from (and parallel) form each other. This will form a square when you line up the corners. Space each piece 1 inch from the edge of the tabletop. When the pieces are aligned and straight, use a bead of glue to fasten these trim pieces to the bottom of the table top. Place the screws into the three holes that you drilled in each piece of wood and tighten them down to secure the trim.
Once the glue has dried, you can finish your table by either painting or staining. There are several types of stains available, and when you are using softwood (common in plywood as well as trim pieces) it is always best to use a sealer or primer before applying the final color.
With a few basic hand tools, some wood, and a few extra hours, you can adapt these plans to meet any of your custom furniture needs. Take your time when you are working with wood to ensure that you are safe and that your measurements are correct. Remember to measure twice and then cut once to avoid wasting wood and money. Most of all, enjoy the art of wood working and share your knowledge and skills with others.