Introduction: Scrap Ends Table

It might be hard to believe, but this attractive end grain table was made almost entirely with scrap wood. It looks amazing and is easy to make as it doesn't matter the size or of the scrap wood you use, or that you aren't precise with your cuts.

The only parts of this project I bought were a 3' section of walnut post and felt pads for the bottom of the feet, the rest was all leftover wood. Making an end grain table from your own scrap wood pile is not only a great reuse, but gives any nice wood scraps you have a new life.

Here's how I made it.

Step 1: Scrap Wood

Picture of Scrap Wood

We have a full wood shop at my work, with loads of people making all kinds of things. We have a "leftovers" bin where larger pieces of wood can be stored and are free for anyone to use. Some of the wood in there are really nice, but usually too small to do anything useful with.

With the exception of the walnut corner/leg pieces, this end table was made from salvaged wood from the leftover bin or the garbage. I used a combination of softwood and hardwood, and think I lucked upon some exotic wood, too!

There were bits from old furniture, weird edge bits, and off-cuts from projects that didn't work out. Some wood looked brand new and some looked like it had seen better days - all was fair game to be included in this table.

Step 2: Square and Cut to Size

Picture of Square and Cut to Size

This table used a lot of wood. Before we can get started we'll need to prepare each piece to make the assembly much easier.

Each piece of scrap wood was squared up using the planer and table saw, and the larger scraps were cut in to multiple pieces and down to more manageable dimensions. Knowing I wanted an irregular height bottom to my table I deliberately chopped any similar length pieces to have different lengths. Those cut offs were also saved and used.

Since most of the wood doesn't have a common dimension we're going to have lots of gaps, you're going to need thin pieces of scrap wood, too. Save all your cut-offs, chances are you can use them to fill in gaps later.

Step 3: Corner Legs

Picture of Corner Legs

I had a really nice piece of walnut that I bought and thought it would be perfect in this project.

Marking the center on the end I bisected the piece on the table saw, then ripped the two halves in half again creating 4 equally square legs. Using a table saw sled I squared the ends.

Step 4: Planning Arrangement

Picture of Planning Arrangement

Once I had my wood squared I roughly arranged them by length. This table is built upside down, so you'll need a flat work surface to assemble the pieces. Before any gluing I arranged the cut wood vertically to get get an idea of placement.

It was here I realized that I could cut most of the pieces and create more surface area from the cut-offs. I went for a design that had longer pieces in the center and shorter pieces closer to the edges.

Step 5: Edge Glue Up

Picture of Edge Glue Up

Before starting any gluing, my work surface was covered with paper. Since this table is constructed upside down I knew that a lot of glue would drip from between the pieces, and I didn't want to glue my table to the table.

I planned my table surface to be 16" square, so I made a template from a straight piece of wood that was marked at 16". The walnut legs were clamped (not glued) to the template at the 16" mark to make the boundary, then scrap wood was glued to fill the space between the clamped legs using the template as a guide to keep the edge straight. Allow glue to dry completely. Repeat this process for each side of the table to create the table perimeter.

Step 6: Interior Assembly

Picture of Interior Assembly

After the perimeter of the table is constructed and the glue has dried we can focus on building up the interior. Starting with shorter pieces closer to the edges, wood scraps were glued to the the perimeter working inwards. I paid attention to wood height and tried to space out similar types of wood.

Fill entire interior of table with scrap wood, you may have to reconfigure some of the pieces as you go along to create the best arrangement based on your scraps. I used clamps to keep the perimeter stable while I built the interior.

When I couldn't get any more wood into the interior I let the glue dry overnight.

Step 7: Flip Over

Picture of Flip Over

Once the glue has dried completely the table was flipped over and the protective paper was peeled off. Despite my best efforts to fill the table with wood there are plenty of gaps, we'll fill these in with thin scrap wood, this time with the table right side up.

Step 8: Fill Gaps

Picture of Fill Gaps

With the table standing upright, fill in the gaps with more scrap wood. An easy way I found was to give small scraps a slight taper, allowing the tapered end to be inserted into the gap with a bit of glue to act as a plug.

Once all gaps were filled the glue was allowed to dry completely. The plug ends were then trimmed with a coping saw.

Step 9: Router Top - Make Level Edging

Picture of Router Top - Make Level Edging

Though the table was constructed on a flat surface, and it looks flat, there's a lot of variation on the surface. We'll router the top to make a flat and level top, this is easier and produces better results than just trying to sand the top down.

To router the top we'll need to set up a level edge for the router to float on. I started by measuring from the ground 24" inches, then nailed a straight board level to one side. I repeated this on the opposite side to create level and parallel rails for the router to ride along.

Next I needed to make an extended table for the router to sit on in order to reach the parallel rails. My rails were 16" apart so my router table needed to be at least double that in order to reach both sides. Using a long and thick piece of flat plywood I drilled an opening in the center for the router bit, then drilled more holes for the router collar to be screwed into. I also made a spine on my router table to keep it from bowing during operation. All screws were countersunk to hide the screw heads inside the piece and keep a level base for the router to glide on.

Step 10: Router Top - Leveling

Picture of Router Top - Leveling

With the router table and level parallel rails on the table the surface can be leveled.

The router depth was set to take off about 1/2", then the router was carefully placed on the rails and worked around the entire surface of the table top. This table took about 30 minutes to router.

This also make a huge mess. Which is fun!

Step 11: Sanding

Picture of Sanding

After leveling the table surface we can start sanding. I started at 100 grit, then worked my way to 220 grit and got a very nice and smooth finish.

Because there's a mix of hard and soft woods in this project it sands unevenly, and care was taken not to sand too aggressively and create low spots where the softer wood sanded faster.

Step 12: Sand Edges + Sides

Picture of Sand Edges + Sides

I sanded the edges and sides with 180 grit to get rid of any sharp parts and smooth any rough spots. I wanted to leave the sides mostly rough, as I think it adds to the character of the table.

Step 13: Finish

Picture of Finish

To seal and protect the table, and to really make the end grain pop, I used a few coats of Danish Oil. Wearing protective gear and working in a well ventilated area, Danish Oil was added to a rag and rubbed into the table. After application, excess Danish Oil was wiped clean. A second coat was applied after about an hour.

Step 14: Felt Feet

Picture of Felt Feet

To protect the floor wherever this table ends up, and to make it easy to slide around, felt pads were added to the feet of my table.

Step 15: Place

Picture of Place

Your scrap wood table is now ready to be placed. My table is about 24" high and works perfectly as a couch end table, and having it close to my front door of my apartment means it's sure to get plenty of adoring looks when people enter.

Calling all woodworkers! Have you made your own project using scrap wood? I want to see it!

Share a picture of your version of this project in the comments below and be awarded a 3-month Pro Membership on


tcampbell201 (author)2017-11-08

how long do the legs have to be?

mikeasaurus (author)tcampbell2012017-11-08

However long the legs are, that's how high your table will be. So, how high do you want your table?

craftedworkshop made it! (author)2017-04-25

I just published my version of this project here:

I did things a lot differently, but I was inspired by your build. Well done!

Very nicely done!

Joshalsip made it! (author)2017-02-08

Just need to smooth the top and oil it.

mikeasaurus (author)Joshalsip2017-02-09

Great work! Love the contrast in wood choices, and that radius edge is very smart.

Thanks for sharing, enjoy the Pro Membership!

Joshalsip (author)2017-02-08

Can you use an electric hand planer instead of a router on the top to get it level?

mikeasaurus (author)Joshalsip2017-02-08

Planers work best when the blade is moving along the grain of the wood. Using a planer on the top means hitting end grain, which a planer is not very good at resolving. I wouldn't recommend it.

Joshalsip (author)mikeasaurus2017-02-08

Thanks. Looks like I get to add a router to my tool arsenal.

ViolaG (author)2017-01-12

I want to make a butcher block table. What is the first thing needed? BTW, that table looks just right for a butcher block in my kitchen.

mikeasaurus (author)ViolaG2017-01-12

You're going to need a dense wood, like Maple. Here's a good example of a butcher block top.

bobflynn made it! (author)2016-06-12

When I first saw this Instructable I was just inspired by its artistic beauty. Then I saw how simple the video made making it look. Once I got going, however, I realized that I was either not going to be fast enough for the glue or my anal sense of order and precision meant I had to be more precise. Consequently I ended up making a frame for the top then building out and gluing the sides. Then, over the course of several weeks, I made custom pieces to gradually fill it in, gluing and clamping as I went. You can see a couple of photos from that puzzle-piece phase. I then routered the top, leaving things leveled, but grooved and the sanding ensued. After a LOT of sanding I found my happy place. After a coat of shellac and several of poly I was able to present my wife with her birthday present. And I was only two and a half months late! No worries, she is thrilled with the end product (she had no idea what was coming) and consequently so am I.

One upside of my build-one-piece-at-a-time approach is that I learned a lot of new woodworking skills (as well as the value of a good heavy mallet!)

bearcubvet (author)2015-09-12

OK, so it's not a scrap ends table, but, it's a trash bench! It's my first pallet wood project...well, it's my first anything project. So, since I'm a beginner and a mikeasaurusphile, I thought I'd share anyway. Was inspired to start because of the scrap ends table and the glow table. Love your work Mike!

mikeasaurus (author)bearcubvet2015-09-14

We all start somewhere, but you're well on your way with that good looking pallet bench.

Thanks for the kind words, brother. Thanks for sharing a picture of your work, enjoy the Pro Membership!

bearcubvet (author)mikeasaurus2015-09-14

Thanks for your kind words, and thanks for the pro membership! Keep making awesome stuff! Any ideas what to do with antique oak flooring I rescued on bulk trash pick-up day???

DamianB23 (author)bearcubvet2016-04-24

If U have oak very old one get the neils out dry him up for at leasr 3 weeks and make an awesome coffee tables and sell them in coffe shop or other but if U know how to craft use your skills with some design and on the end varnish and clear liquer

Send some pic so we have a look

sroberts47 (author)2015-10-10

how does edge glue hold this lug together please respond asap

mikeasaurus (author)sroberts472015-10-10

That's how glue works - it sticks stuff together!

Knex mad123 (author)mikeasaurus2015-10-20

How does the thing actually hold together even though its glue it wouldnt make a base? I'm very cnfused

mikeasaurus (author)Knex mad1232015-10-20

This table only uses glue, it works becasue of the large surface areas being glued together.

Knex mad123 (author)2015-09-18

Do you all have any ideas for making this in my STEM Challenge Class

Knex mad123 (author)2015-09-18

ezgnann made it! (author)2015-02-07

I am building this as a coffee table this weekend. It is very heavy but looks amazing. The routing of the top has not worked out well, but I have lots of sand paper. I was worried about sideways expansion, so I inserted dowels around the perimeter and am adding a 1/4 walnut band on the outside to help keep it solid.

mikeasaurus (author)ezgnann2015-02-08

It looks great as a large table. The floating router was by far the most difficult part of the build, but is faster and more even than sanding. What didn't work out well for you when you tried it? Remember that different wood types will sand at different rates, so you may have a wavy top (which could also look really neat!)

I'd love to see the final results when you're done. Thanks for sharing, enjoy the Pro Membership!

ezgnann made it! (author)mikeasaurus2015-09-04

I had a huge amount of scraps laying around the shop and decided to build another table. I changed the design a bit and cut all scraps into equal lengths. I think it turned out well.

mikeasaurus (author)ezgnann2015-09-07

I like both styles. I still have my scrap ends table at home next to my couch and never get tired of looking at it.

Thanks for sharing another picture of your scrap ends table, enjoy the Pro Membership!

CharlineCaisse (author)2015-07-16

Mike, this is amazing!

Thanks! It's my side table at home, and I still love seeing it every day

oliveira.igorm made it! (author)2015-07-02

Did with some wider pieces and turned out pretty great!

I really like it with the wider pieces, and with all the legs a little different. Your table looks great!

Thanks for sharing a picture, enjoy the Pro Membership!

thecynner made it! (author)2015-03-17

My first pallet furniture!! Everything was free: the pallets, the stain, and the orbital sanding disks. All that I paid for were the nails and the loss of my living room area in order for me to build, sand, and paint. The legs were from a pallet that had oak for the main 2x4s. The darker pallet had been sitting on the corner of Culligan Water for years....until I decided to save it from it's terrible life of Pallet hooking on the corner.

mikewinfrey (author)thecynner2015-06-23

That's kind of funny...Look at my pallet table where all I bought was glue, stain, and Polyurethane. Look familiar?

mikeasaurus (author)thecynner2015-03-17

That looks amazing. I love that everything was free, that makes the project just a little sweeter. What's next for you?

Thanks for sharing your project with me, enjoy the Pro Membership.

thecynner (author)mikeasaurus2015-03-17

I am going to do end tables and a bedside table. However, I am not cutting with the chop saw inside my house anymore!! :) I am going to build some sort of shop...I have an old RV I am turning into a shop. I also plan to add drawers to the one above on the one side.

Mikasaurus made it! (author)2015-05-14

I paid $5 for the legs, the rest was free from a local timber yard. The guy who owned the place said.. girls who make furniture are so cool! I had issues with one leg which kept falling off, so I have to dowel it.

I am chuffed with it, normally my furniture is not so involved!!!

Thank you for the inspiration!!!

mikeasaurus (author)Mikasaurus2015-05-14

Wow, that looks great! I love getting stuff for free :)

Thanks for sharing a picture of your table, enjoy the Pro Membership!

dforster1 made it! (author)2014-12-27

Had a few blips here and there, mainly with the whole routing process, ended up having to use a belt sander to get the top smooth but the end result was pretty decent after all is said and done.

Thanks for the tutorial, I got a great looking piece of furniture and reused a bunch of wood in the process!

The danish oil is fantastic I might add, it gives some real depth to the wood.

mikeasaurus (author)dforster12015-01-05

Your table looks fantastic! I love that this project looks great, and uses a bunch of smaller scrap wood. The routing of the top was the most technical part of the build, but glad you got it to work with a belt sander. Your table really pops with that danish oil. Really great job.

Thanks for sharing, enjoy the 3-month Pro Membership.

C Unrath (author)2014-11-16

I made a table topper for board games out of scrap 1x4 and 1x2 that I had left over from building a new box spring for our bed, I also had left over felt and to 1/4 inch sheet as well, I then painted it with left over paint from a wall painting project I just completed. It works pretty well for board games, it is kind of a prototype for a 3x3 board that I am putting together this weekend.

mikeasaurus (author)C Unrath2014-11-17

That looks like a fun gaming table. Thanks for sharing, I hope to see your larger version soon. Enjoy the 3-month Pro Membership!

What types of games do you play?

C Unrath (author)mikeasaurus2014-12-06

Made the Mark 2 of the Game table and posted it. Check it out and let me know what you think!

C Unrath (author)mikeasaurus2014-11-17

It is great we can put it on the dinner table and play a game like risk and then not have to worry about clearing the table to eat, all we have to do is move the board out of the way.

We play all kinds of games 1941 to settlers and miniature games like 40k and x-wing

bricobart (author)2014-11-06

This project haunts me to produce excessively amounts of scrap-wood. You're a bad bad guy to have planted these images in my head...

mikeasaurus (author)bricobart2014-11-07

You're welcome :)

mbackman66 (author)2014-10-31

What a great idea! Simple and elegant.

Have you ever worked with colored resin? That might be a cool way to fill in the final gaps. It may add some spice to the piece... or make it look dumb.

bretinc (author)2014-10-27

Im gonna be making one of these, awesome job :)

zbrannigan (author)2014-10-07

Unreal idea man, putting that on the list of things to do

WhouDini (author)zbrannigan2014-10-10

I know right..genius..

hannagelesz (author)2014-10-06

Hey, that's cute we just made the same during the summer on an architectural workshop in Hungary (Hellowood) as an installation, 'interesting' that also the method is the same.

mikeasaurus (author)hannagelesz2014-10-06

Wow, that's really impressive! I love how it looks lit up at night.

Enjoy the patch and 3-month Pro Membership.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ in San Francisco. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!
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