My parents bought a camping table that was supposed to be high quality, but it only lasted one season. The outer shell broke, water came in and the paper core got soft. So I rebuild it out of wood and reused the hardware. The new one is almost as light. A project that anyone can do.
Step 1: Salvage the Hardware.
The tabletop was obiously beyond repair. But the hardware was in great shape.
Next time you drive by a pile of junk on the roadside have a look if you cannot find some good hardware! Its cheap, it can be fun and its good for the environment.
Step 2: Cut the Wood
I used maple for the outside frame. This piece was standing around behing the saw at the lumber yard. I got it for free. It is laminated maple for kitchen counters, so the quality on one side was perfect. I only needed to rip it to size.
In the video you see me extending one piece that was too short with the biscuit joiner.
Step 3: Frame Assembly
I used corner clamps to assemble the frame. Then I drilled some holes to receive dowels. I put some tape on the wood before drilling to minimise tearout. I cut the dowels from long stock and rounded over the edges. Then I glued everything together and cut the dowels flush using a japanese pullsaw. A little sanding makes the dowels perfecly flush.
Step 4: Adding a Rabbet to Receive the Plywood Panel.
The easiest way to attach the top plywood panel is to add a rabbet to the frame. That is a little recess that the panel can drop into. I used a trim router and made very small passes until I had the desired depth and width. The corners will be round, so you either need to make the plywood panel round, or make the corners square. I used a chisel to make square corners. This looks more difficult as it is. Just take your time and don´t worrie. Its hard to mess this up. Scoring the wood with a utility knife helps.
Step 5: Glue Up!
This is my second favourite step after painting. I bought a 5mm plywood panel in the hardware store and had it cut there. Thats easyer than having to deal with a huge panel at home. Use all the clamps you have and also your neighbours. Make sure there is even glue squeezout.
Step 6: Add Supports for the Hardware.
The plywood panel is just 5mm thin, so it cannot suport point loads. I added these supports to spread out the load on a bigger area. I used my trim router to remove some material from the underside to make it lighter. No need for hardwood here! Just use something thats lightweight!
Step 7: Add Paint! My Favourite Part.
First add primer. I only had a spraycan left which was not enough, but its better than nothing. Let it dry and add paint. I prefer water based paint. It's friendly to the environment. It dries quickly and it does not smell. After your first coat the fibres will all come up. You need to sand it down again with 240 grip sandpaper and apply another layer of paint. These campign tables get used and abused, so don´t think the paint will stay flawless for long.
Step 8: Final Assembly
Add the old hardware and you are done!
Step 9: Admire Your Work and Go Camping!
You put a lof of work into this. So now it´s time to admire it and take some instagram pics.
Step 10: Round Over the Edges.
This table gets carried around, so you will want to grab it by the frame. To make this nicer for your hands, round over all corners with your router. This will also make the paint more durable.