Introduction: Reclaimed Wood Table

Picture of Reclaimed Wood Table

After using a cheap plastic card table as my only table for nearly two years I decided it was time for a change. I had seen some large wooden tables that I liked and figured that I could make one myself. I also used reclaimed wood to make this table so it's a bit cooler looking (and environmentally friendly!).

The finished product is heavy, but not too bad. I'm using Douglas Fir which is a bit soft. Marks will show on the table, but to me that is okay. You may want to adjust your wood choice if you like something different.

Step 1: Assemble Your Materials

Picture of Assemble Your Materials

To make this table I used three pieces of reclaimed Douglas Fir. Each piece was 3"x10"x5'. I ended up buying five of them from M Fine Lumber in Brooklyn. They came from this 25' piece of wood that they were nice enough to cut into pieces for me.

As far as other consumables go you'll need some wood glue, tenons (or biscuits), and some table legs. I got some of these from Ikea. Here's the link to the legs.

I also used a hammer and vice grips to remove nails, a circular saw, a mortiser, a rubber mallet, sander, and a drill/screwdriver.

Step 2: Clean Up the Wood

Picture of Clean Up the Wood

If you use reclaimed lumber it will likely come to you really dirty, not straight, and covered in total crap.

The first thing I did was go over each piece with a hammer and a pair of vice grips to remove the nails and other interesting metal objects that had found their way into the wood over the course of it's previous life. This is really important because if there's any metal left in the wood it can mess up your tools when you use them on it (I suppose this could also cause an accident where you could be injured or killed. Be careful). It's probably a good idea to use a metal detector to make sure you got everything out.

After the metal was removed I decided to use my sander with a very rough abrasive in it to remove all the crap on the outside of the wood. This made the rest of the process a lot cleaner which is important to me because I'm doing all this in the same space that I live in.

Next you're going to want to use your saw to make sure all the corners are at 90 degree angles. I used my circular saw, but a table saw would probably be better. Actually what would be great is a jointer. I don't have one of those though, so I'm making do with what I have.

Step 3: Join the Table Together

Picture of Join the Table Together

I used my Domino to cut mortises in the pieces and then glued them together with tenons in place. There are 28 mortises in the table. I imagine you could get by with less, but I was a little nervous about this falling apart.

Step 4: Sand the Surfaces, Attach Legs

Picture of Sand the Surfaces, Attach Legs

I sanded the surfaces to make sure they were smooth and splinter free. I started with 60 grit and then went up all the way to 220 to make sure it was very smooth. This makes a huge difference so I think it's worth spending some time on.

The legs are from Ikea. I think they are for expanding a countertop. We've been using them at my work to build desks for people so I figured they would be great for this too. They cost about $30 each so not too bad. I like the contrast of the metal to the natural wood.

Step 5: Apply Finish to the Table

Picture of Apply Finish to the Table

I used General Finishes Arm R Seal which is a penetrating resin. This stuff was really easy to apply and has a nice look. You should put a few coats on so that the finish is sturdy enough to withstand some abuse from moisture and hot plates.

Hope you enjoy it! It was fun to make and really rewarding to use every day!


ShawnS64 (author)2016-02-14

wonderful wonderful work! thanks for sharing

Edenny0516 (author)2016-01-12

Dr. Drocko, thank you for adding to my To Do Projects! Do you recommend sanding in between Arm R Seal applications?

geraldgrogan (author)2008-10-23

Great project. Can you post a link to where you purchasd these table legs? In particular, I am looking for the exact name or part description at Ikea to assist in finding them easier. Thanks.

Kikurimu (author)geraldgrogan2014-03-30

These are the Vika Moliden legs from IKEA.
No longer carried.

drocko (author)geraldgrogan2008-10-23

Thanks! These arethe legs and I've added a link to the supply page.

andersws (author)2013-09-05

Hey man - Awesome job! 2 questions for you or anyone that has experience.

1.) did you have the wood kiln dried?
2.) how did you make sure the 3 boards were all perfectly flat/uniform without a planer?

ReclaimedLumberGuy (author)2013-06-07

Clean and simple design. Love it! Check out to find more reclaimed wood to build projects just like this.

juju_bijoux (author)2012-12-06

EXACTLY the tutorial I was looking for.

Thanks Bud :)

cardboarddude (author)2012-09-02

miami vice grips lol

nevarxxxraven (author)2012-09-02

damn bob villa over here. nice work

vsardiñas (author)2012-07-21

Hey drocko, I'm going to build a similar table and was planning to make it 40"W x 90"L.
Do you think I could use the same Ikea legs? That model only comes in one size (24 3/8") and the other ones they carry seem too flimsy for a table that size.

alavanja (author)2012-04-29

I want to make a table just like yours,
since it will be heavy, and I might need to move it from time to time,
do you think it is possible to install wheels on the bottom of the
IKEA frames?
You being an engineer might know.

Thanks in advance,
and keep on creating great things like this table.


tabrown05 (author)2012-03-30

Did you alternate the orientation of the growth rings to help the table stay flat?

Codah_01 (author)2012-01-28

Looks great! This might sound like a mundane and unimportant question, but what kind of sander did you use?

drocko (author)Codah_012012-01-29

I am (or was) a Festool nut, so the sander is a Festool Rotex RO-150.

Lukulele (author)2008-10-23

Nice appearance but some alternatives to the Domino for the majority of viewers would have been nice as most folks can't afford Festool. Dowels, biscuits, or even a well racked group of clamps and Titebond III will align and hold just fine. The Arm-R-Seal is an excellent choice for fir, heart pine, or virtually any hardwood but 3-5 coats on a porous species of wood will build depth, aid in cleaning, and help (somewhat) toughen the top from denting and scratching. It also "pops" the grain and enhances the color of vintage wood. Nice clean look table

Vince_33 (author)Lukulele2012-01-26

@Lukulele: assuming the different sections are accurately planed at right-angles, would glueing be good enough?

thekiyote (author)Lukulele2010-09-07

I was wondering about that with the Domino! I don't own one (and can't afford one :-P) so I was wondering if some dowels would be a good substitute! Good to hear that it is!

paulwright (author)2012-01-14

Hey, I have to say I love this table, and am going to make a desk to fit perfectly into my study.

I was just wondering (as I have basically zero experience with woodwork) when you said:

"Next you're going to want to use your saw to make sure all the corners are at 90 degree angles. I used my circular saw, but a table saw would probably be better. Actually what would be great is a jointer. I don't have one of those though, so I'm making do with what I have."

What does this actually mean. Are you assuming the wooden planks are square to begin with, and just want to make the ends at 90 degrees, or did you make the whole plank square?

I can understand if my question is confusing, but you say you don't have a jointer, and I am wondering how you got your planks to look so perfect and fit together using a circular saw?


drocko (author)paulwright2012-01-17

Hi Paul,

The wood was pretty close, but not quite square. The secret is the Festool plunge cut saw and guide. Their saw fits perfectly into a metal guide that I can line up with the edge of the wood (or any edge I want). It also has a protractor that fits to the guide to allow me to cut at any angle.

Frankly, a used table saw is probably cheaper and would do a better job, but space is at a premium where I've lived and I move a lot. This project was actually done two apartments ago! The Festool tools are small and pack up quite nicely.

If/when I move into a place that has a lot of space I will set up a woodshop with a tablesaw.

If you are using this Instructable to help with your desk, for this part just make sure the wood is cut nice so it fits together well. That's really all that is important. Good luck with your desk!


miscbws (author)2011-09-24

Thanks for posting step-by-step - I was so impressed with your table that I decided to try it myself. My first project so I needed lots of guidance. Mostly the same except I used a biscuit joiner and tung oil finish. I give you credit for the design when I have people over. Thanks again

angelabchua (author)miscbws2011-11-02

This looks fantastic!

joanna01 (author)2011-09-29

wow!! beautiful table :) so those Ikea legs are strong enough to support the wood? They don't sway?

kkhaldia (author)2011-06-23

Could you attach the wood using brackets?

dan_ce (author)2011-03-27

Nice table. But how did the lumberyard saw it up for you if it still had HUGE nails in it?

drocko (author)dan_ce2011-03-28

They used a chainsaw to hack the 25' beam into five 5' pieces.

EmmettO (author)2010-10-19

I like the project! My wife has been saying we need a new kitch table and I have a bunch of old wood. I'm surprised at how many people still go with wood glue. I'm sure it works adequately but I'm a big believer in Gorilla Glue. I do all my woodwork with it and it's crazy strong stuff.

lovejobworknomore (author)2010-08-23

dude youve got xpensive tools, works even better in your hands

zoundsPadang (author)2010-07-05

Gorgeous. Really really nice. I'm planning on opening a coffeehouse in a few years (student loans are a pain in the butt) and I was thinking about doing a big, common, reclaimed wood table and now I KNOW I'm going to. If you want to come out to Chicago in a few years and help you can earn free coffee. ;)

drocko (author)zoundsPadang2010-07-06

Hell yes I would road trip out to Chicago with the tools to do this! Let me know when.

zoundsPadang (author)drocko2010-07-06

Dude, welcome to the army. I swear I'm not going to have to hire anyone I don't know to get this place fitted out. Look out for a PM.

jwilliamsen (author)2010-06-21

Not only a Festool saw but a saw, guide, workbench, AND a Domino. Now I *know* you could have bought a jointer - lol.

drocko (author)jwilliamsen2010-06-21

Ah yes, it's a matter of space! All of the Festool tools easily break down and can be stored (which is handy in NYC). This is why I don't have stuff like a drill press or table saw. Someday I'll have a nice workshop in the country!

jwilliamsen (author)2010-06-21

Yeesh - for what you paid for a Festool saw and guide, you COULD have bought a jointer - lol. That piece of wood is *perfect* quartersawn BTW - it'd be hard to pick a better piece for a table :)

siedpe13 (author)2010-06-20

lol vice grips

lej619 (author)2010-06-20

great job!I have one somewhat like this ..but was made from an old door.

hughscott5 (author)2010-06-20

Awesome project!! Saving it in my "to do" folder right now!! :)

Euphy (author)2010-06-20

Beautiful table and well presented project. That's a cracking piece of timber you picked up too, incredible grain.

PlayPatterns (author)2010-06-19

this is great. If you're in NYC and need materials for more projects, I highly recommend taking a trip to "Build it Green" in Astoria - I could get lost in there....

owl box (author)2010-06-18

Nice stuff, you might want to consider using Tung Oil if you have to finish any more wood. Natural, and waterproof. Well done, looks great.

coswine (author)2010-06-18

I did the same thing this winter, but I used large biscuit joints and an old sewing machine base for the legs. In fact, your instructable was one of the things that got me motivated to finally do it. I used old floorboards from a barn, circa 1850. Nothing beats the character you find in reclaimed lumber. Cheers to a great instructable!

crowtrapper (author)2010-04-24

Beautiful job. About 30 years ago I had a wool-sorting table in our old woolshed - used for shearing sheep here in Aus - and the table was falling apart (100 years old or more by then) so I reclaimed the wood from it and made a somewhat rustic dining table. It has nail holes in it etc, the surface is waxed with beeswax, but all the old marks are there. The table seats 10, it is about 8 ft 6" by 3 ft, and it has a thousand stories to tell now. That table is now a family heirloom! My kids will never part with it (built by their Dad) and I am not dead yet but already they are arguing over who will get the table! So to all you reclaimers of old timber I say go for it!

popdisaster420 (author)2009-12-11

Your home is beautiful, the wood floors and brick walls are awesome. Thanks for the instructable, I'm going to try this one on a smaller scale. =]

warrenlemay (author)2009-11-05

Nice job on the table. Cool work bench where did youget it.

drocko (author)warrenlemay2009-11-05

 The workbench is a Festool MFT 800. It integrates with their tools and clamps very well. I think they have discontinued that model but it looks like you can pick it up from some dealers that have it in stock for a discount. There's a new model of MFT table that's bigger and lighter and better or something as well. 

brunobl3 (author)2009-05-07

Fantastic work!! I love to use reclaimed wood in my works too. Congratz!

westbank (author)2008-12-04

Wow !!! Nice minimalist table. I was wondering what are the dimensions of your table. Thank you

Aleksandr Skotbot (author)2008-11-02

Your reclaimed wood table with ikea legs beats the hell out of my ikea wood table with ikea legs! ): but I covered mine with bottle caps, and then plexiglass. (: great piece.

lalunette (author)2008-10-31

What a great write-up. We did something similar for our table (seats 10) at the cottage but the legs are also made of wood. Good idea to use recycled timber.

tday99hotmail (author)2008-10-29

Fantastic looking table! How is it holding up? I might just try this myself.

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