I had him write it up for you...because I just give him an idea of what I want and he figures it all out, the brains of our operations, hehe! Enjoy!
This tutorial was written so that the intermediate / advanced user could use just the pictures, and none of the long dialogue. Please feel free to skip the sentences. The tabletop measures 40” x 84” and 31” high.
We start out by building the frame. I purchased 1x6’s. Using my table saw, I cut two lengths down to 4” wide. Using the 1x4’s and 1x5½’s (1x6), build the frame as pictured below using glue and pocket holes (the small circles are pocket holes; I used a Kreg pocket hole jig). This is one of the strongest ways to join wood together. If you don’t have a pocket hole jig, you could complete the table without it by attaching the first layer to second layer (see two steps below).
To make the frame stronger, add diagonal supports. I used 1x2’s cut to 8” long. Use wood glue and brad nails to attach. If you don’t have an air nailer, use screws instead and drill pilot holes first (countersinks are best).
Our final layer of strength will come from another layer of 1x4’s and 1x6’s. Notice in the picture below how I switched up the cuts so that not all of the joints occur on the same places over the lower layer. I simply used wood glue on the face of the wood and a couple dozen brad nails. Again, screws with countersinks would also work.
Note: If you don’t want to fork out the $150 for a good pocket hole jig, you could join the first and second layers with screws and probably attain the same strength. If you do this, extend the middle two vertical 1x6’s like I did for the outer two vertical pieces. Then add the diagonal supports.
Next we’ll add the table legs. We purchased redwood fence posts (we found ours for $17 each) and painted them white prior to putting them on. I cut them down to 28”. The placement of the legs doesn’t really matter, go with what you like best. I placed the leg as pictured with one face flush with the seam and the other face flush with an imaginary line extended from the brace (as pictured).
Attach the legs from the top of the table. Apply a liberal amount of glue, then use 4 - 2 ½” screws (small holes in the picture below). I always use a countersink bit before using screws; its stronger, prevents splitting, and makes the screw flush with your work.
Then dowel each leg by drilling in the middle of the leg (big hole in the picture). I used a ½” dowel. Using a ½” drill bit, drill down about 3 ½” (1 ½” for the brace, and 2” into the leg). Apply a liberal amount of glue to your dowel then hammer your dowel into the hole. Don’t try to cut your dowel to 3 ½”, instead, leave it long and hammer it in. Then cut it off after it is fully inserted. I used a hand saw, then sanded it smooth.
Next we’ll add the tabletop. I used a combination of 2x3’s, 2x4’s, 2x6’s, and 2x10’s (all purchased from Home Depot) to create a design. I planed each piece, then sanded it smooth to prepare it. I also used a band saw (jig or scroll would also work) to round the corners of the 2x10 end pieces. With the frame standing on the floor (Note: the table will still be a little wobbly at this point, but will be very strong once you add the tabletop), throw all of the pieces on top as designed below. Don’t attach yet.
You should have approximately a 2” overhang on your sides, and a 4” overhang on each end. Home Depot / Lowes wood is rarely perfectly cut. Each of my pieces were about 1/16” short of the displayed measurements. This means that my table is actually ¼” shorter than displayed and ⅛” less wide. Before attaching pieces, make sure your table top is centered on your frame by assembling the pieces and taking measurements of the overhang on each side. Make sure they all match.
After you have measured the overhang on each side and are comfortable that the table is centered, attach the 2x4’s first (side pieces), then the 2x10’s (end pieces). This frames in your entire tabletop and makes it easy to attach the rest of the pieces. I used my brad nailer to quickly attach each piece (have someone push down from the top, else the brad nail will pop the board up), then went back through with my countersink bit and screws. Use 2 ½” screws and plenty of them on the 2x4’s and 2x10’s since they are the least secure due to the overhang. For the rest of the pieces, I used 2 screws each, unless I felt a wobble, then added more as necessary.
For the finish, we used a lacquer based clear coat from Home Depot. Sara applied with a brush and did 5-6 coats on the tabletop (legs were already finished), sanding between each coat. We didn’t bother finishing the frame pieces as no one will ever see it. Lacquer is much stronger than latex, which means it will hold up better under a kid beating.
I love how the table turned out. Hopefully we keep this one for longer than a year or two as has been our standard in the first 5 years of our marriage (this is our 5th table in as many years).
I’m happy to answer questions. Just leave comments below.