After one too many mornings spent tearing the house apart looking for keys that had magically disappeared I decided we needed a way to keep them as close to the door as possible. We also had a pile of free scratch-and-dent railing pieces from my brother. This table is the result of these two things. You can often find cheap or free parts from your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and your table will end up both cheaper and more sturdy than anything from IKEA. Bonus, you only need hand tools to construct it, so even without a garage full of tools you can make some impressive furniture.
4 foot length of 1” x 6” hardwood (I used poplar)
1” x 1’ x 3’ piece of hardwood (also poplar)
Poor man’s compass (pencil and string)
Step 1: Assemble and Cut Leg and Support Pieces
Make a stencil and cut four legs out of the 1” x 6”. These can be any shape you like, just make sure they fit on the end of the baluster and sit flat on the ground.
If your baluster is slanted, cut the ends flat.
Step 2: Attach the Legs to the Baluster
Find the center of the flat edge of each leg piece that will attach to the baluster. The easiest way to find the center is to draw a line with a trisquare from one edge about in the center and another the same distance from the other side. The center is between the two lines. Do the same on each of the four sides of the baluster. Sand across the center of the baluster to help the two pieces adhere.
Pound two small nails into the center line of the leg. Nip off the nail heads. These will help you keep the legs aligned as you glue them.
Press the nail ends into the center of one side of the baluster. Do the same with another leg on the other side. With nail depressions on each center line it will be easier to line up the legs for gluing. Apply wood glue and clamp the legs tightly to the baluster. It helps to cut a spacer for the bottom of the legs so they will stay straight when you clamp them. Once the glue dries, attach the other two legs in the same way.
Step 3: Cut Out the Round for the Table
To cut out your circular tabletop, measure the width of the board and mark the halfway point. Measure the same distance from the top of the board to find the center of your circle. Hammer a small nail in the center, tie a string to it and attach a pencil to the other end. Using the string as a guide, draw your circle. Cut out the tabletop with a jigsaw and sand the edges to slightly round them.
Step 4: Attach the Tabletop and Supports to the Baluster
Using the scraps left over from cutting the legs, cut four small supports for the bottom of the table.
Find the center of the table and the center of the baluster top and align them. Trace around the baluster to have a guide for your supports. Glue the supports to the table top and clamp them down. Apply glue to the baluster and put it in between the supports. Add wood filler and glue as necessary between the baluster and supports. Let dry.
Step 5: Stain to Match
Depending on the materials you used, your table may look a little like Frankenstein’s monster. Find a stain you like (in our case, one that mostly matched the dark baluster) and stain away. I will probably apply another stain at some point, because the color on the outside of the can was a lie.
Step 6: Use Table
Now you can throw keys, mail, or tiny replicas of the Royal Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg onto your table. Enjoy your inexpensive, custom piece and never lose your keys again. Plus, you have a nice display table for tiny buildings.