The table was designed to be built and assembled using simple tools. In fact, it was built and finished right in the living room of my condo, with most of the cutting being done by my local Home Depot.
The table is composed of three items: the body, the drawer and the pedestal. We'll walk through the construction of each piece separately.
Step 1: The Design
For the body, three of the sides are composed of plywood mated to a 1x8 pine board that will form the carcass. This will serve dual duty of reinforcing the butt joints and supporting the top and bottom of the table. The three sides are joined on the inside using small brackets attached to the carcass and glue along the touching edges.
The drawer is attached to the fourth side of the body. The outer face of this side is plywood, identical to the rest of the body. The drawer is attached to the center of this side.
The pedestal is a smaller box requiring less reinforcement so it is built without a carcass.
Here's the list of tools and materials used for each component:
Sides & Top: 3/4" G2S Birch Plywood (Birch is clear and will take any color stain)
Carcass: 1x8" Pine (you can use plywood but pre-drill all screw holes to prevent splitting)
#6 1 1/2" Wood screws
Bottom: 1/4" Plywood (any grade)
3/4" G2S Birch Plywood Face
20" Accurride Drawer Slides
1/8" MDF Bottom
1"x6" Pine Sides & Back
#6 1 1/2" Screws
#6 1/2" screws with washers
3/4" G2S Birch Plywood Face
Clear Urethane Coat
3/4" Iron-on Birch Veneer
Utility knife / Veneer trimmer
Step 2: The Assembly - Drawer and Pedestal
1. Glue and screw the sides of the drawer together to form a box. Again, a band clamp comes in handy here but is not absolutely necessary.
2. Attach the 1/8" MDF to the bottom of the box from step #1 using screws and glue. Space the screws evenly along the sides with about three screws per side. I used washers on the screws to prevent possible tear-out in the MDF when weight it put in the drawer.
3. Attach the rails of the Accurride to the sides of the drawer. They should be flush with the front face of the drawer and centered from top to bottom.
The pedestal has similar construction; without the MDF bottom.
Step 3: The Assembly - Body
1. First build the three side panels by attaching the 1x8" to the plywood with screws. I use glue as well to secure the fit since everything hangs on these 1x8s.
2. Once the sides are built, you should test assemble the body to ensure that everything fits nicely. This is where you find out just how good the cuts were and where I can fix any deficiencies before putting it all together.
3. Flip the sides upside down and attach the bottom (1/4" plywood) of the table to the carcass using screws and glue. A band clamp is ideal here to keep it all together and square while doing this. The table is small enough to get your hands around to keep it steady so you can make do without once your cuts are true and there are no deficiencies (see Step #2).
4. Turn the body onto its base. Use the corner brackets to secure the back to the sides and really pull them together.
5. Attach the pedestal to the center of the bottom using screws. Pre-drill the holes in both the bottom and the pedestal to make the fit easier. (Please note, during my build, I attached the pedestal from the bottom after completing the body. This is possible but it is not the easiest way.
6. Attach the rails of the drawer slides to the inside, centered along 3.25" from the bottom of the table and flush with the front edge of the carcass.
7. Insert the drawer to test that it fits flush with the carcass. This is critical for a seamless fit once the drawer is closed. Make any adjustments necessary to get a flush fit.
8. Drop the top onto the carcass. If all is well, you should have a nice tight, even fit all around. Attach the top with 4 counter-sunk screws and fill the hole with wood filler. If any filler gets on the surrounding wood, wipe it up with a wet cloth as soon as possible.
9. Once the putty drys, sand it to a fine finish and sand any excess that remains on the surrounding wood (the putty will not take a stain exactly like the plywood so it will show through if not removed.
Now your ready for finishing.
Step 4: The Finish
1. Lightly sand any rough edges to get a flat surface for the veneer. Clean all exposed plywood edges with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris.
2. Pre-heat a clothes iron. If its a steam iron make sure that all the water has been drained and vent any remaining steam before applying the iron to the veneer.
3. Place the veneer on the edges and bond it using the hot iron. Most veneer come with instructions on the temperature of the iron and how long to apply it to the veneer.
4. Let it set for a few hours (follow the instructions that come with your veneer).
5. Trim the veneer overhang using a utility knife of veneer trimmer. This should give you a nice flush fit to the plywood.
Next is the staining. The birch plywood takes any colour stain so choose one you like. Make sure you seal the finish with a clear coat of urethane to protect the wood from scratches and water damage.
1. Lightly sand the plywood to get a smooth finish. Emphasis on light since most plywood have a very thin decorative surface layer that can be removed with too much sanding.
2. Clean the surfaces with a damp cloth and let them dry.
3. Apply the first coat of stain and let it dry.
4. Check the surface for any roughness. Water-based stains will cause the wood to swell and raise the grain; producing some roughness. Sand lightly if necessary.
5. If you needed to sand in step #4 apply a second coat of stain and let it dry.
6. Apply the urethane topcoat evenly over the surface. I use a spray can with a trigger attachment and held the can about 12" from the surface.
7. Let it dry.
That's it. Enjoy your new coffee table.