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Picture of Minimalist Table from Reclaimed Floor Boards
Having tried my hand at refinishing an old piece of furniture, I figured I might have a go at creating a piece from scratch.  I was in the market for a small kitchen table, and liked the minimalist look.  I had seen many examples (here, here, and here) of the type of table that I wanted but they were all really expensive, ranging from around $500 to over $2000.  This was just too far out of my budget range, especially because the hairpin legs I wanted to use could be had for a fairly reasonable price online.  After that it was simply finding some nice looking wood that would handle the minimalist design well.  I also really like the idea of using reclaimed wood for several reasons.  So I went to my favorite purveyor of used construction materials, Construction Junction, and was able to find some lovely old floor boards and reclaimed slats all for under $20 in lumber.

I am entering this instructable in the "I could make that" contest, so if you like what you see, please vote!

Step 1: Gathering Materials

Picture of Gathering Materials
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At first the boards don't seem like much to look at... just dusty, worn, old floor boards.  But to me, they looked like a kitchen table.  I thought the grain was pretty and because they were old and seasoned, they weren't likely to warp or split.  Plus they already had a tongue-and-groove which made fitting them together especially convenient.

Ingredients for this Project:

-Reclaimed floor boards
-Reclaimed slats from a bed
-30in hairpin legs from http://hairpinlegsforless.com/
-1-1/2 inch woods screws
-Wood glue

Tools:

-Skillsaw
-Belt sander
-Orbital sander
-Screw gun
-Clamps
-Sand paper
 
MichaelM414 months ago
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Hairpinned Table
by wholman
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8.1K 229 9
The hairpin leg was designed by Henry Glass in 1941 for American Way furniture. A simple "V" of steel rod was connected to a flat "L" bracket, cocked at a slight angle. Hairpin legs produced maximal strength out of minimal material and were easy to make, both ideal qualities during wartime shortages. The visual language -- dematerialized and unadorned -- was picked up by a subsequent generation of designers. Tacked onto any handy flat surface, they've become a shorthand for mid-century modernism.
For this dining table, the hairpins are reversed, angling inwards to brace swept-back legs. Instead of a conventional boxed-out apron, the substructure is an elongated "X", making a slim, elongated profile. The top is made of wide laminated planks, with a chamfered edge and through-tenons in each corner. It seats 8 easily, and 12 in a pinch, but doesn't overwhelm the room.
I used reclaimed Douglas Fir, salvaged from the boiler room of a vacant building. The 12" hairpin legs came from a website (there are a couple specializing in hairpins) and cost about a dollar per inch. Consumables, like glue, lacquer, and resin, brought the total materials budget to about $100. It took between 70-80 hours to make.
Lacking my own shop, I was able to do a lot of the work at the Station North Tool Library, a non-profit public workshop that has open hours twice a week. These sorts of spaces are cropping up all over the world, and are perfect for nomadic makers like myself. They are also proof that you don't have to own all the fanciest woodworking equipment in the world to make your project.
You will need these tools:
- Table saw
- Thickness planer
- Jointer
- Circular saw
- Belt sander
- Orbital sander
- Jigsaw
- Drill/driver
- Mallet
- Router
- Tape measure
- Pencil
- Adjustable square
- Putty knives
- Chisel
- Block plane
You will need these materials:
- Around 45 linear feet of reclaimed 2x10 material or similar
- 4 12" hairpin legs
- 1-1/4" drywall screws
- Wood glue
- Two-part resin epoxy suitable for filling knots
STEP 1: MILLING
The lumber I found had sat in the boiler room of a semi-vacant building for about sixty years, judging by the dates on some of the lumber stamps. It was long planks, and I think it was probably used as scaffolding walk boards.
Underneath all that grime and heating oil was beautiful, streaky, reddish Douglas Fir. Whatever lumber you end up using the process is roughly the same. To clean it up, cut it into 8' lengths, then run it through the thickness planer until it is a uniform 1-1/4" thick.
Then use a table saw to cut 1/4" off one edge, flip the board, and do the other edge. Repeat, flipping each time, until they are a uniform 7" wide.
Note: this is not the classic proper method for producing square and straight boards, which involves many passes with a jointer. However, with factory milled lumber that is already surfaced (however years ago that may have been), dry, and relatively straight, I find this method to be much faster and just as effective.


Beautiful, sleek table. Gr8 job. R those plugs on the table top to cover the leg posts? If so, do the leg posts have to go right thru the table top? I'd rather go 3/4 in so you don't have to see 4 rectangular plugs on the surface. If not, plse disregard w my apologies. A gr8 looking table regardless.
A suggestion about the chisels: Even the finest chisels need to be honed before use. Get a moderately priced set from a woodworker's store, or on-line, and learn how to sharpen. It's not difficult, and doesn't need to be a precise as the on-line instructions might lead you to believe. Once you've learned how to sharpen, you'll never need to buy another set of chisels.

Also second the wax-paper. Put some between the glue-up and your weights, and/or clamps, and you'll never have to worry about gluing them together again.
I have some old oak floor boards that you gave me an idea of what to do with them.
Nice job. With those legs give it a clean modern look I might have eased over the top edges but that might not work so well with the hard edge minimal look.
I always worry about solid wood movement ever since I heard a small library table split its top when it started to shrink as it was drying out from getting damp. I see that you have fasteners in each board that should keep the joints even when they move sealing all sides can minimize the movement. The traditional solution is slotted holes in the stretchers or braces across the grain to allow for the top to move.
love that minimal look!
uncle frogy
Tazmjm691 year ago
The table turned out great, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who swears while building things!!
TorBoy91 year ago
This is a very nice table and well constructed. You might want to invest in a chop saw, as you stated, because the cuts are more accurate, especially with narrow wood. When you are gluing up and adding your clamps and heavy items on top you could use wax paper in between the clamp and the wood. Some clamps, especially black pipe clamps can leave marks on the wood due to the water in the glue. Wax paper helps prevent the glue from sticking to your clamps and heavy items.

Your table should last a very long time, and can be easily resurfaced at any time.
Branebot (author)  TorBoy91 year ago
Love the wax paper idea. That certainly would've worked better than the paper towels. Thanks for the tip!
Branebot (author) 1 year ago
Thanks for all the lovely comments and encouragement, folks. I really appreciate your feedback!
Instead of chisels why not use a hand plane or jointer? I know not everyone has these tools but a simple block plane would do this job (and MANY more) much better than chisels at about the same price.
ladybgood1 year ago
beautiful! Thanks for sharing!
dflare1 year ago
Beautiful results! Well done. :)
Geedox1 year ago
Fond Memories! Some 60 years ago my dad bougth about six four-piece sets of hairpin legs at a garage sale in San Tome, Venezuela! Four of the sets were coffee-table height and the other two standard table height! He built a small table just like yours as my desk and upon growing It ended as a hobby worktable. The top was decommisioned about 30 years ago, And I still keep all the legs!! The only mod he did to the legs was welding a large (about 2-1/2in) steel washer at the hairpin so rubber pads or rug/carpet protectors could be affixed! Good design doesn't die! I wish your work will hold up as much as my dad's did!!!!
lrtburkett1 year ago
I love the table and the dog! She looks like my own Bambers!
Wolfgar771 year ago
Thanks for the post. You've given me some great ideas!
fav'd, good tutorial (for saving money) but how much is wiener dog in chihuahuas?
Branebot (author)  jonneburger1 year ago
I think the conversion to chihuahuas is 2.3, but someone will have to check my math on that one. So it should be rated for at least 23 chihuahuas (assuming average size).
That seems about good. This goes to buildlist
I'm from PGH too. I love construction junction
bob30301 year ago
Very nice. I like that you used repurposed lumber. I also liked the idea of nipping the 1 1/2 inch screws to best fit your project. Thanks for posting.
wow, this came out great - what a good idea.