Introduction: DIY Utility Tables
This tutorial will show how to make portable tables that are easy to setup and just the right size for craft shows, garage sales, flea markets or just extra tables for finishing work. My wife needed portable tables for her craft shows. Craft show spaces vary in size, so she asked me to create two different sizes. I started making these tables about eight years ago and I routinely get requests for instructions on how to make them.
Rather than create an unneeded set of tables, I shot photos using one of each size table that I had already made.
Step 1: Tools & Materials
- Drill & drill bits
- sandpaper (optional)
- router & round-over bit
Materials list for tables:
(1) ¾” x 2’ x 4’ sheet of plywood
(4) ¾”#10 screws
(2)¾” x 10’ EMT conduit
(2)¾” EMT conduit clamps
(4)¾” end caps
(2)¼” x 2” bolts
(2)¼” locking nuts
(2)3/16 “ steel snowmobile pop rivets (¼ “ to 3/8 “ grip range)
(2ft) 2" webbing
(4) ¾” #10 screws
(2) ¾” x 10’ EMT conduit
(2) ¾” EMT conduit clamps
(4) ¾” end caps
(2) ¼” x 2” bolts
(2) ¼” locking nuts
(2) 3/16 “ steel snowmobile pop rivets (¼ “ to 3/8 “ grip range)
(20in) 2" webbing
Step 2: Saw the Table Tops
The larger table top will be cut to 2’ x 4’ and the smaller table top will be cut to 15 ¾” x 36”. Using a router and sandpaper, round over and lightly sand all edges. In case you are wondering about the table dimensions, they are specifically tailored to craft show booth spaces – the larger tables in front with the smaller tables usually on the ends. Typically, craft shows are limited in the amount of space available, so the craft show organizers tend to allocate the booth spaces in the same way – limited in depth and width, usually around 8 feet in depth with the width measurements in multiples of 4 feet.
Step 3: Cut the Conduit & Weld Sections
Larger table. The legs of the outside section should be 36”. Cut the outside top conduit to 24”. The legs of the inside section should be 34”. Cut the inside top conduit to 22”. The distance between the outside legs needs to be 22 1/8”.
Smaller table. The legs of the outside section should be 33”. Cut the outside top conduit to 15”. The legs of the inside section should be 31”. Cut the inside top conduit to 13”. The distance between the outside legs needs to be 13 1/8”.
Note: If you plan on making more than one set of table legs for each size, I’d recommend that you create a jig for welding. I’m including a couple of photos of the jig I made for this purpose. The jig is two sided and has two parts on each side. Each side has 'jigs' for the outside legs for both size tables and the opposite side has 'jigs' for the inside legs for both size tables – see photos. The red areas indicate where the conduit should be placed and clamped for welding (clamps have been removed in the photo with the conduit). I have made tables over several years and all are uniform.
In order to create the strongest weld joints, the ends should be shaped to the fit the curvature of the top conduit. Weld the corners of outside and inside leg sections. Attach end caps to the leg ends to provide protection for floors.
Step 4: Drill and Assemble the Leg Sections
Lay the inside leg section inside the outside leg section allowing an eighth of an inch gap between the top portions (I included a set of legs that I partially disassembled to show this step). Measure 17 ¾” down the outside leg from the top and mark the location to drill a ¼“ hole. To insure the that the bolt holes align perfectly, I usually clamp the inside and outside legs together while drilling on my floor drill press (letting the legs 'dangle' below). While the holes can be drilled using a hand drill, I have found it much easier to drill with a floor drill press because gravity helps keep the inside and outside legs aligned while drilling. After drilling the holes they should look similar to those in the photo.
Insert a bolt and secure with a lock nut. Note: ¼“ washers could be used between the legs, however I’ve found they really aren’t necessary.
Step 5: Drill & Attach the Webbing
The webbing has a couple of functions. It sets the distance between the top portions of the inside and outside sections to create a stable platform for the table top and it determines the actual height of the table after the top is attached. After the webbing is attached, the height to the top of the table legs will be 30“.
The strap is positioned on the bottom side of the table legs and is secured with pop rivets. An easy way to attach the webbing is to turn the table legs upside down. Drill a hole centered in both sections for a pop rivet (see photo for position). Next spread the leg sections apart until the distance from the leg bottoms to the ground measures 30”. Measure the distance from each hole you just drilled and add 1 ½“ to the measurement (approximately 24" for the larger table and 19" for the smaller table). Cut a length of webbing to that length and fold over each end ¾” and attach with a pop rivet. It should look something like the photo.
To use the assembled table legs, always keep the webbing on the bottom of both sections (see photos). The table leg assembly is designed to fold up into itself.
Step 6: Attach the Leg Assemblies to the Table Tops
Lay the table top on a flat surface with the best side facing downward and attach the top of the outside leg assembly to the underside of the table top using screws and conduit clamps. Position the clamps to the outside of the legs. Afterwards the inside legs can be folded down flat. All tables should be the same height when setup for use.
The last photo shows how compact the tables are; there are eight tables shown with each only 1 ½“ high.