Introduction: Design Tables From the Ground

About: Young designer, working outside for the most part, researching about local ressources, natural materials and design process.

For me, being outdoors, is like being in my studio. In this project, the ground is my mold, the wind my tool, the river’s water one of my materials. Being outside reveals a new way of approaching design. To lose oneself is to finally recreate landmarks of your own.

Here, in this Instructables, I want to explain and share how to make a simple, yet poetic table from your backyard, or anywhere you want, your favorite place, where you met your loved one, where you taught your kid to ride a bike… on the beach, in a field… The idea is to make a table right out of the ground so it’s locally made.

These tables are linked to a territory, I create a relationship between the place of the production and the object. This table is made out right of the Janon, a river in St Etienne, France. Impregnated with soil, stones are encrusted, the ground gets stuck in the hollows of the plaster, the water evaporates slowly. All different, solitary, they become a witness of the place and of the creative process.


- 7,2 kg of Paris plaster (Bostik, 15kg:âtre-fin-de-Paris-15kg/dp/B01LT5YAF0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1515934473&sr=8-3&keywords=plâtre+de+paris+bostik)

- 100 grams of fiberglass or organic fiber to solidify the plaster

- 4,5L of water

- an empty plastic bottle

- a bucket or a solid plastic bag

- 3 battens of wood (I used oak because it’s fine indoors and outdoors) of 35mm and 27x27mm thick (

- 12 nails of 40mm and 2,2mm thick (

- one wood compass with a rope

- a wood lathe or a wood file (é-caoutchouc-triangulaire-demi-ronde/dp/B071CKJPF1/ref=sr_1_2?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1515999728&sr=1-2&keywords=lime+bois)

- a piece of sharp metal to dig up the table top

- a little bit of wood varnish, or you can also use some resistant transparent tape

- Time of making: 20min to 30min, the drying of the plaster: 3 to 4hours

I put some images so you can see some of the material. Some links are french, there are here to show you what I used, but the best is to go to an hardware store, you will find everything there !

Total price: around 20€, even less if you can buy the exact amount of plaster and wood that you need


As you can see from my pictures, I experimented a lot before doing the actual table. I tried to determinate with a metal piece the circle of the table top, but it’s not necessary, it doesn’t ease the pouring and does not do clean and nice edges. But you can always use one if you want ! I went for a more organic result.

Step 3: Wood Legs

For the 3 wooden legs, I used a wood lathe to create patterns on them. The idea is to make a mark of your work, to point out that you made this table.

If you don’t own a wood lathe, you can always make cuts with a saw or a wood file.

Step 4: Nails in the Wood Legs

Varnish 2 times 50mm of every wood batten (to make it more water resistant when you pour the plaster) and when it’s dry, plant one nail 10mm deep on each side. (the nails are there to make the plaster hold better, with only wood, the plaster would dry up the water in the wood and you could take out more easily the wooden leg when the table is dry)

Step 5: Find a Nice Spot !

Bring everything to the location

Step 6: Prepare the Ground

Clean the ground as much as you want, to have the outcome that you desire on your table. My table top is as flat as i wanted it to be, i wanted some rocks in the plaster to remind me of the outside ground, but you can also do different landforms. You can dig more into the ground to make some kind of bowl on top (see drawings).

Step 7: Make the Shape

Create a circle using the compas and the rope to do the length that you want. The shape is determinate by the compas that gives me a round circle to pour the plaster into. You can also only use a rope to create the circle!

Step 8: Get the Water and Make the Plaster

Get the water and prepare the plaster with the water in the solid plastic bag (easier if you chose a location far from home) or a bucket, add the fibers and stir.

Calculations for the amount of plaster :
Table top: diameter 60cm, thickness around 1,5cm

Flat cylinder : V= Radius (R) x Radius (R) x 3,14 (π) x thickness

30cmx30cmx3,14x1,5cm= 4239, so around 4,5L of water

1,6kg of plaster for 1L of water

so 1,6x4,5= 7,2 kg of Paris plaster

Those measurements are the ones I used. I wrote down the calculations, that way if you want to make a bigger table top, or larger you just have to ajuste the measurements.

Step 9: Pouring

Pour the plaster on the ground, respecting the limitation of the shape you drew with the compass, make sure that the edges are at least 10mm thick all around so it’s going to be solid enough in the end

Step 10: Add the Wood Legs

Plant the 3 wooden legs, the nails in the plaster, they have to be completely submerged in the plaster. If it’s too thin, don’t hesitate to add with your hands some more plaster just around the legs to make it more solid. Hold a couple of minutes the 3 woods and make sure that they are straight.

Step 11: Let It Dry

When you are sure that the wood legs are steady, let it dry for 3hours, and enjoy the sun !

Step 12: Table Up-side-down !

With the sharp metal piece, start digging around the edges, then go a little bit under the table top and when you see that you can grab the edges, try slowly and carefully to lift the table from the ground. Like a tarte Tatin, we create the top up-side-down !

Step 13: Cleaning

You can chose to clean the table (or not), that is your call ! I decide to clean up a little bit to show the plaster underneath.

Step 14: Finished Table !

You have a nice, locally made table to use !

Step 15: Make More...

If you like the result you can make more, they will all look very different !

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