Introduction: Make a Custom Sewing Table
Third Prize in the
For years I've wanted to make myself a large, dedicated sewing table. I finally got around to it and am very happy with how it turned out.
The table is 32 inches tall with a 4-foot square work surface.
The large work surface is great for cutting and pinning fabric, and provides a huge outfeed area to help make large or bulky sewing projects much easier to manage. The table is solid and quite heavy, so there is no shaking or vibration while sewing. It also has built in storage drawers to keep necessary items close at hand whether sewing on one side, or doing prep work on the other.
If you're interested in making something similar, hopefully there are lots of ideas here that will help you out. The methods I show here could be used to build a table of whatever size you need, whether for sewing or otherwise.
If you have an existing table you'd like to mount your sewing machine in, steps 4, 5, and 6 should give you some ideas of how you could accomplish that. Hope you learn something useful here. Thanks for taking a look!
Step 1: Skirt Structure
This is the skirt structure of the table, and is the key that holds everything together. The table top is screwed to this from the underside, and the legs are bolted onto its corners.
The table top and skirt structure are made from 3/4" pine plywood. (This would not normally be my first choice, but I had some left over from another project.) You could use any relatively smooth and blemish-free plywood, but if you can stand the price I'd recommend furniture grade birch.
To build the skirt structure, I began by cutting six 5" by 48" strips of plywood. Four of these were trimmed to 38 1/2" to use as the outside pieces of the skirt. The four corner braces are 5" long with both ends beveled at 45 degrees. These were glued and temporarily tacked in place with nail gun brads 1 1/2" in from the ends of each side piece. Everything was then pre-drilled and fastened securely with screws.
The two remaining strips of plywood were trimmed to fit and installed on the inside of the skirt frame with glue and pocket screws to add support for the table top and the drawers.
The drawers added a lot of complexity to the project, and I debated just leaving them out. If I had, I still would have put the cross pieces in the skirt structure to keep the table top from dipping or sagging in the middle over time.
The drawers were made from pine with 1/4" plywood bottoms. These were installed with various modifications and support pieces added to the skirt structure to make everything fit and work together nicely. In the end I was glad I included them, as they are a very nice feature.
Step 2: Legs
For the legs I purchased two 8-foot, 4" by 4" pine beams. From the best sections of these I cut four 31 1/4" pieces to make the table legs.
To bolt these to the skirt structure, a 45 degree notch had to first be cut out of the top portion of each leg. I did this using a bandsaw with a homemade jig to hold the pieces at the correct angle.
For the bolts that get embedded into the tops of the table legs, you can purchase special table leg bolts that have coarse, lag screw-type threads on one half. You drill a hole where you want the bolt to stick out, and with a nut threaded onto the bolt side as far as it will go, you screw the lag portion down into the wood and then remove the nut. This is one option, but these fancy bolts are a little too pricey in my opinion.
I went a different route, and just threaded a regular 4-inch bolt through holes bored from the outer side of each leg, and then plugged the holes with a large dowel. This was pretty much an experiment, but I like the way it turned out and would do it again for future table legs.
The photos have additional notes on how this was all done.
Step 3: Table Top
The table top is a 48" square piece of pine plywood. I used a router to round over the top edge, and filled an any voids or gaps with wood filler.
Step 4: Cut Out for Sewing Machine
This is where the fun begins!
A lot of what needs to happen next depends on the machine you have. However, the goal is the same. You want to have the sewing surface of your machine close to level with the table top (slightly above is ok, below is not), and still have easy access to change the bobbin and do maintenance as needed.
For me, I will be using older flatbed sewing machines in this table. They have a (mostly) universal bed size. After some careful measuring and marking, I cut an opening that was six inches back from the front edge, and four inches in from the side. I used a forstner bit to cut the corners nicely, and a jig saw to cut out the rest.
I used a router to give the top of the opening a very small round over to remove the sharp edge.
Step 5: Mount Sewing Machine
I had some pin hinges out of an old sewing case which I installed into the table top. Along with these I installed some adjustable supports to the front edge of the opening. See photo notes for details.
Step 6: Another Mounting Option
I built this little table underneath the opening to act as an alternate mounting option if needed at some point. (It is screwed in place to its support rails in this photo, but in the finished table it is not. It can be easily slid in and out of place from underneath.)
I actually keep it in place to catch any oil drips, so it serves that purpose for now even if I never use it to support an actual machine.
I just wanted to show this because a small sub-table like this might be the easiest mounting option for most people.
Step 7: Table Finishing
The skirt structure was painted a shade of green that I liked.
The legs, drawers, and table top all received two coats of polyurethane with a light sanding of 220 grit sandpaper after each coat was dry. The table top was then waxed with furniture wax to make it nice and slick.
Pocket holes were then drilled all around the inside of the skirt structure for fastening the table top in place.
Step 8: Assembly
The table top was screwed in place from underneath.
The table legs were then bolted in place, and the table was flipped over and the drawers installed. I added some little bumpers made from sticky-back craft foam to the inside of the drawer faces.
The wood I used for the legs was fairly green and wet when I built this, and continued to shrink and acclimatize once the table was indoors. For the first few weeks I had to occasionally tighten the bolts to keep the table from getting wobbly. This was a little disconcerting at first until I realized what was happening...
There was shrinkage!!
Step 9: Finishing Touches
To keep dust off the machine when it's not being used I cover it with the top of an old sewing case. A straight edge was hung on a nail on one of the table legs since it was too big to put in the drawers, and some nearby shelves hold additional sewing and craft items.
Thanks again for taking a look!
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