Introduction: Building Block Table

This year for Xmas, I decided to build my two young sons a table for their building blocks. I recently got a free table saw off of craigslist, and I needed to put it to good use. I wanted to have a table that also had storage in it, so I put a drawer on each side.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

The amount of materials may differ depending on how big you want it, and how many block plates you use. I got my plates off ebay, and it was sort of a mix bag of stuff. I planned the size out according to the plates I have.

Here are the materials needed for the table:

2- 2' x 4' sheets of 1/2" birch plywood ($10 a sheet)
1- 2' x x4' sheet of 1/4" birch plywood (I had a scrap piece I used)
2 sets of 14" drawer guides ($5 a set)
Nails (Already had)
Short screws (3/4") (Already had)
Stain (Already had)
Wood putty ($6 - get sandable putty, not painters putty)
Building block plates (got mine off ebay for $10)
Drawer knobs ($0.75 each)

Here are the tools needed for the table:

Table saw
Orbital sander (60 grit)
Vibrating sander w/ sandpaper (150 grit)
Nail set
Drill bits
Rags or brush for staining
Putty knife
Hot glue gun

*Please use caution and safety while using any powered equipment. Be sure to turn off and unplug the table saw when making adjustments to the blade as indicated in the following steps used*

Step 2: Cutting the Tables Sides and Top

Rip one sheet of 1/2" birch down to 18 1/4" wide. This will be the piece that the two sides will be cut out of. Rip the other 1/2" thick sheet down to 18 3/4" wide. This piece will be the front/back pieces for the table. Save the leftover pieces for the drawer parts that will be needed.

Now from each board, cut two pieces that are 15" tall, so you will have 2- 18 3/4" x 15" and 2- 18 1/4" x 15" pieces.

For the inset top you need one piece of 1/2" birch that is 17 11/16" x 17 11/16".

Take the leftover pieces and rip down to 4" wide. This will be used for the drawers. There should be a 1" strip left over from this. Save it for insetting the top in the table.

Step 3: Dado the Front/Back Pieces

For this, the depth of the cut for the table needs to be adjusted so that when the board is cut, it will only cut part of the board and leave 1/4" in the thickness. Use a scrap piece of plywood to check.

Now, set the fence so that from the edge of the fence to the opposite side of the blade is 1/2". Take the two 18 3/4" wide pieces and run both side of each, do not run the top or bottom. The sides are 15" long. Run them with the good side of the plywood facing up.

Next, adjust the fence so that the fence so that from the edge of the fence to the opposite side of the blade is 1/4", and raise the table saw blade to cut to a depth of 1/2". Run the same edges again, but this time run them on the edge with the good side of the plywood facing away from the fence. If you are notcomfortable doing it this way, you can do make the dado by moving the fence closer to the blade until the whole area is dadoed out. Be careful though, you will have to clamp or affix a sacrificial piece of wood to the table saw fence so that you can get the last bit on the end. If you have a router, you can also buy a bit just for this purpose.

Step 4: Cutting Out the Drawer Fronts

Take the same two pieces that were just dadoed, and cut them into three pieces. The middle section will be the drawer. To do this though, one piece will be cut opposite from the other so that a drawer can be on both sides.

Piece One will be in this order:
5 1/2"
7 1/2"

Piece Two will be in this order:
7 1/2"
5 1/2"

Be sure to label the section that correspond to each other if you are staining the table, this way the grain in the plywood lines up from piece to piece. If you plan on painting it, then it doesn't matter as long as you have the two side opposite each other correctly.

The 5 1/2" piece will be the front for the drawers.

Step 5: Assemble the Table

Take the 2" and 7 1/2" pieces and drill tiny holes through the dado areas - 2 on the 2", and 3 on the 7 1/2". Make sure the holes are smaller than the size of the nail. This make putting the table together easier, unless you have an air compressor and nail gun. That would be a lot easier.

Put glue into the dadoes of one of the pieces, and nail it to the end of one of the 18 1/4" x 15" pieces cut out earlier. Be sure to useu enough glue to bond the pieces together, but not to where it is running everywhere. Do this for the remaining pieces until you get the four sides of the table glued and nailed together. Be sure that the opening for the drawers are on opposite sides, and that one is at the top and the other is at the bottom. Make sure you have the right pieces on the right side on the correct end if you are lining up the wood grain.

Take a couple of pieces of square plywood and nail to the top and bottom the keep the table square until the glue dries. Let it set for an hour and then take them off.

Step 6: Put in the Top

Take the 1" strips and cut two pieces 17 11/16", and 2 at 16 11/16". Glue and screw the longer pieces on the inside of the table 1" down from the top on opposite sides. Now do the same for the two shorter pieces.

Set the table right side up, put glue on the edges of the pieces just installed, and set the top in. Screw the top down to the pieces.

Step 7: Cutting Out the Drawer Parts

First, the depth of the cut for the table needs to be adjusted so that when the board is cut, it will only cut part of the board and leave 1/4" in the thickness. Use a scrap piece of plywood to check.

Now, set the fence so that from the edge of the fence to the inside of the blade is 1/2". The table saw is now set up to cut the groove for the drawer bottom.

Run the two 4" wide pieces through the saw. Next, take the 5 1/2" drawer fronts that were cut out and run the with the bottom edge against the fence. Make sure you do this if you want the wood grain to line up with the rest of the table. After you have run all the pieces, move the fence 1/8" away from the blade and run them again. This will make the groove 1/4" wide so that the bottom will fit in.

For the drawer parts, you need to cut out the following

4 - 4" x 14" (sides)
2 - 4" x 15 3/4" (backs)
2 - 16 3/16" x 14" (bottom - out of the 1/4" birch plywood)

The two 15 3/4" pieces may vary depending on the drawer guides you use. Typically, the drawer guide requires 1/2" of space between the inside of the cabinet/table and the drawer.

On the drawer fronts, the dado on the sides will need to be widened 1/8" on each side. This will make it so the drawer will close all the way and not snag on the inside of the table in case it is a little out of square. Set up the blade the same as before, but set it so the fence is 1/2" from the inside of the blade.

Step 8: Assemble the Drawer

Take the drawer front and set it face down with the bottom edge facing you. Place the drawer back on the drawer front. Align the bottom edges together and center the back on the front. Draw a line on both ends of the drawer front where the back is. This will locate where the drawer sides will be attached to the front. Places a small "x" on the outside of the line so that you know which side of the line to anchor the sides to the front, and also which side to drill for the nail holes. Do this for both drawers.

Drill the holes the same as before through the drawer fronts, and also drill holes for the nails in the drawer sides. The side only need it on one end to attach to the drawer back, so be sure you have a left and a right for each drawer.

Put glue in all the grooves for the drawer bottom. Then, put glue on the end of the drawer side to attach to the drawer front, being sure that the grooves for the drawer bottom line up. Getting the first side nailed on is the hardest part, especially when having to hammer them in. The do the other side, slide in the drawer bottom, and then glue and nail the drawer back in between the drawer sides. Repeat the same steps for the other drawer.

For my knobs, I used some wooden ones that I could stain with the rest of the table. I drilled an appropriate size hole in the center of the drawer front for the mounting screw. Wait to install the knob until after sanding the table and drawers.

Step 9: Putty and Sand

Take a nail set, and set the nails in the front of the table and drawers so that they are about 1/16" of an inch below the face of the wood. Fill the holes with wood putty.

Also putty up the joints and any holes in the ends of the exposed plywood. Use a putty knife for the joints so that the putty is pushed in the joint better. Don't glob it on the outside, that just makes more work during sanding.

Give the putty time to dry. Take an orbital sander with 60 grit paper and sand the outside of the table and drawers, and also the edges and inside of the drawers. Use the sander to knock down the corners of the table to take away the sharp corners. Once you are done, and any excess putty has been sanded off, use a vibrating sander with 100 or 150 grit paper and repeat the same sanding procedure.

Once you are done, clean off all the sand dust.

Step 10: Install the Drawer Hardware

I installed the guides per the manufacturer's instructions. The drawer guide set as four pieces - 2 on the drawer and two inside the table.

The two on the drawer attach to the side at the bottom up against the back of the drawer front. The two inside the table were set to align with the bottom of the drawer opening and set in from the side 1/4" because of the dado on the end of the drawer. There are multiple holes, so adjustment is easy if necessary.

If the drawer doesn't shut properly, there is enough room on the guides to add shims behind them for adjustments. It will depend on what kind of drawer hardware you get. On mine, one side of the guide inside the table actually wrapped around the wheel of the guide on the drawer, while the other side was not. I had one drawer that had one side not shutting all the way. To adjust this, I put a shim at the back on that side, since that was the side that had the guide that wrapped the wheel. That made the drawer shut properly.

Now, put the knobs on the drawer and put them in the table. Make sure the drawers are working properly, and that you have the right drawer in the right hole if the wood grain is supposed to line up.

Step 11: Stain the Table

Clean off any dust from the table. Take the drawers out of the table. On my table, I am just staining the front and edges of the drawer.

I used a clean rag and wiped on the stain one side at a time, and then wiped off the excess.

Once it had dried for 3 hours, I put on a clear coat and let it dry. After a light sanding, I put on an additional clear coat.

Step 12: Put on the Plates

Once it was dry from staining and clear coating, it was time to put on the building block plates.

I dry fit the pieces on how I wanted them to be arranged since it was a mix bag of plates. I starting hot gluing them down one piece at a time from the center working towards the edge. I used other block pieces as clamps to hold the plates in the right location as I glued them down one by one. If I had this to do over, I think I would have attached all the pieces together with other blocks and glued down all at one time.

I left a space open at each side adjacent to a drawer for building or putting blocks while building. I painted this area with black paint.

Step 13: Finished Product

Now it is ready to be used, and hopefully not destroyed.

Homemade Holidays: Holiday Gifts

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