For this project I wanted to make a set of tables that revolved around re-use and consequently keeping the cost down. For this reason I decided to make the tables out of pallet wood and Plexiglass that I had on hand. This was a gift to my sister for her wedding so I wanted it to be built very well.
You will need:
-Wood- in my case pallet wood
-Aluminum binding posts
-A lot of bottle caps
-boiled linseed oil and pasting wax
Step 1: Table Top Glue Up
For the table top I used pine slats. I had a lot of them and I didn't want to waste all of my hardwood pieces.
1.) Find slats that add up to at least your final dimensions.
2.) Cut one end of each slat on the miter saw so that it is square and clean.
3.) Glue up your pieces keeping one end perfectly aligned so that you have a square side to cut the the table top to its final dimension using the table saw fence.
4.) When the glue dries use the square edge to square up the other edge with table saw fence. After that is done just use the table saw to cut the top to its final size.
Step 2: Table Top Frame
For the frame and legs I had some red oak from the pallets. This will make for some strong parts as well as look very nice.
1.) Cut some strips on the table saw about 3/4" by 1.5"
2.) Cut a rabbet into the edge that will receive the table top with a straight bit in the router or a dado stack in the table saw.
3.) Figure out the distance that you need between the table top and the plexiglass piece so that the plexiglass piece sits on top of the caps for support. Cut the dado at that height to receive the plexiglass piece.
4.) Cut the frame pieces to length on the miter saw. Cut two to the length of one of the sides of the table top. Cut the other two pieces to the the length of the other side of the table top plus the thickness of the other frame pieces.
5.) The two pieces that are the length of the table top side plus the thickness of the other two pieces need a rabbet in the end to make a flush corner with a half lap joint. I just cut this on the router table using a 3/4" straight bit using either a miter gauge or a piece of plywood to keep the piece square against the fence.
6.) Glue 3 sides of the frame onto the table top so that the plexiglass and caps can be inserted before the final piece of the frame is glued on later
Step 3: Table Legs
Since the table legs were made out of hardwood, they could be relatively thin and still be very strong. A major part of this project was figuring out the folding mechanism and how it all goes together. The two outside legs are going to be single legs connected directly to the table top with a privet point. The two inside legs are connected together as a single frame. A dowel connects them at the top so the whole system can slide open and closed. A cross brace made of 3/4" by 3/4" inch hardwood the same length as the dowel gets sunk into the frame closer to the bottom of the legs. In the middle of the leg frame on either side is a pivot point that connects the inside leg frame to the outside single legs.
1.) Cut the wood into 3/4" by 3/4" strips on the table saw
2.) Set up a stop block at the miter saw and cut all four legs to the same length
3.) round all the corners over on the belt sander
4.) Cut a dowel and extra piece of 3/4" by 3/4" hardwood to the same length to make the braces of the inside leg frame assembly
5.) Cut a dado for the cross brace to sit in with the router or table saw
6.) drill holes at the top of the inside legs to receive the dowel brace
7.) drill holes in the middle of each leg piece large enough to snuggly fit the aluminum binding posts to create pivot points that connect all the leg pieces together. Also drill a hole at the top the outside legs for another pivot point that will connect to the table top
8.) Glue up the inside leg frame assembly squarely and let it dry
Step 4: Connect the Legs to the Table
The bottom of the table has 4 piece of wood directly connect to it. There are two short ones that hold the cross bar and keep the assembly from opening too far. There are two longer pieces perpendicular to the smaller pieces on either side of the bottom that have a hole in one side that the leg assembly attaches to with a pivot point.
1.) Cut two short piece of 3/4" by 3/4" hardwood the same length and cut two longer long pieces with a length that is about an inch or two less than the width of the table top
2.) Round over the corners of one side on the belt sander so the square side can sit nice and flush against the bottom of the table
3.) Drill a hole in the longer pieces on one side that will receive a binding post that makes a pivot point with the outside legs
4.) Drill and counter sink holes into all the pieces in order to screw the pieces to the bottom of the table
5.) Center the smaller pieces on either side of bottom and screw them in
6.) Put the whole leg assembly together with the pieces that connect to table top and center the whole assembly on the bottom of the table and put in a couple screws.
7.) Test the table to make sure that it opens and closes easily before taking the screws out, adding glue, and screwing it all back together
Step 5: Assemble the Table Top
After all of the mechanics of the table are done and functioning properly, the top can be finished up. Remove the leg assembly from the bottom of the table by removing the binding posts.
1.) Cut the plexiglass to the right size on the table saw so it fits in the table top frame slots. I used 1/4" thick plexiglass because I had it but I imagine that thinner plexiglass would also work and keep the cost down because of the way the plexiglass is supported by the bottle caps.
2.) Give everything a quick finish with boiled linseed oil, including inside the table top but avoiding the parts that are going to be glued
3.) Instead of branding these tables with my logo I decided to transfer my logo onto some blank caps. I printed out my reverse logo out of a laser printer and transferred it to the metal with gel medium. Once the gel medium had dried I just used water to pull the paper off. Once they were dry I hit them with a few sprays of lacquer
3.) Take all the bottle caps and arrange them into the framed in area of the table top. I didn't glue them in which may have been a mistake because their movement may cause scratches inside that can't be fixed.
4.) Slip the plexiglass piece into the slot and glue in the final piece of the table top frame to contain everything
5.) When the glue dries everything can be finished with Johnson's Pasting wax, including the plexiglass, for a nice feel and protective finish.
Step 6: Cross Bar
The cross bar goes underneath the table top and keeps the leg assembly from going too far. It stretches across the two smaller pieces that are mounted on the bottom of the table. I decided to make it out of a piece of 1/8" steel rod but it could just as easily be made out of wood.
1.) Cut the rod to the right length with straight bolt cutters or a cut off wheel.
2.) Heat up the steel with a torch until it is red hot and hammer the two ends flat with a hammer. I didn't have an anvil so I used the back of my steel vise
3.) Clean up the hammered ends with the belt sander
4.) Drill a pilot hole in either end to connect this piece to the table with screws. Use oil or another lubricant when drilling through steel
5.) Use the holes drilled in the steel to mark out and drill the pilot holes in the bottom of the table
6.) Use screws to hold the bar in place
Step 7: Final Assembly
After the cross bar is done the only thing left to do is put the table back together. When the table is back together the plexiglass has to be sealed in case of spills.
1.) Connect the single legs to the table with an aluminum binding post. To help with friction, put a nylon washer in between all wooden parts on the binding post. To make sure the binding post was tight I wrapped it once or twice with electrical tape
2.) Then connect the inner leg frame to the outside legs with binding posts and nylon washers between
3.) Once the legs are attached just connect the cross bar with screws and the whole table should easily fold up and down
4.) To seal up the plexiglass slots just put blue painters tape around the edges and squirt some 100% silicone into the extra space in the slot. Peel off the tape right away before it cures. The 100% percent silicone will bond well enough to the plastic sheet. This will keep any spills from getting into the table. I ended up doing a second application of silicone after the first one cures for extra security
I was very happy with the way that these tables turned out and they made a great gift. I will have to steel them back pretty soon so that I can come up with a stand for the tables!