Introduction: Mid-Century Modern Inspired End Table

About: Hi, I'm Brian. My goal is to make fine woodworking — and especially Japanese kumiko woodworking — accessible and fun.

Today I want to show you how I made this Mid-Century Modern inspired end table with bent lamination legs. I built this table as a design prototype and to test the legs for strength. The legs hold up surprisingly well, able to hold my weight (briefly).


2" x 7" x 28" Hardwood for the legs

1" x 5" x 96" Hardwood for the top

Wood Glue

Finish of your choice (I used Arm-R-Seal)

Step 1: Make the Tabletop

Orient the Boards

The first step is to orient the boards in an aesthetically pleasing way. You want to use enough boards to get to a panel that is slightly over 16" x 16". Try to orient the grain so that the seams will disappear. Then draw a carpenter's square on it to remember the orientation.

Joint & Parallel the Edges

Next, joint one edge of each board. If you have a jointer this is the perfect time to use it. If you don't, you can use a table saw tapering jig like you see here to joint your stock, or you can use a hand plane if you'd like. At this point, just joint one edge. Once one edge is jointed on all of the boards, you can rip the opposite edges parallel with the table saw and rip fence.

I then worked on the edges that mated together with a hand plane on a light setting to ensure I had really tight seams. I folded each pair of boards like a book, which helps ensure that the edges fit perfectly together, even if the edges get a little out of square from the face.

Glue Up the Top

With all of the joints nice and tight, glue up the panel with wood glue and clamps. If you'd like, you can use dowels, dominoes, or biscuits for alignment. I didn't use any of these options, so I was just careful about alignment.

You should either use an alignment aid or be really careful because the panel will end up slightly larger than 16" x 16" when you glue up your boards, which is wider than most planers can handle.

Step 2: Cut the Leg Strips

Joint One Edge

I trued up a piece of eight quarter walnut for the legs. It had already been surfaced on three sides, but the edges were out of square so I jointed it with my table saw tapering jig, before ripping the legs into 1-½ by 1 inch leg blanks.

Establish the Taper

I wanted the legs to have a subtle taper, so I marked a shoulder line, then the taper on one of the blanks.
I used my tapering jig again, this time orienting the cut line on the marks I’d made to create a taper. To make four identical tapers, I added a stop with blue tape and CA glue, which in combination with the fence helped me register the leg blanks in the same place for each cut.

Rip 3/16" Wide Strips

Set the table saw fence to 3/16", then rip each leg blank into strips. I recommend putting the tapered side up, and orienting it so the narrower side of the taper goes through the blade first. This way, you'll be able to push the leg blank through with a push stick easily.

(Optional) Bevel the Ends

If you want the legs to cant out at an angle, you should bevel both ends of the leg strips. To do this, I used a miter jig and beveled the blade of my table saw. One note: you're looking for a parallelogram shape with your beveled ends, not a trapezoid, so be careful.

Step 3: Cut the Table Top to Size

After the glue has dried, use a straight edge and a circular, or a track saw, or similar, to cut off the uneven end on one side, then run it through the table saw to get it to a final dimension of 16" x 16".

Step 4: Lay Out the Leg Sockets

In this design, I wanted the legs to come from the corners. I marked an inch and a quarter from each side and connected them with a line to reveal a triangle.

At the table saw, I cut each corner of the top.

Then I marked a line on the center of each cut corner, and then two evenly spaced lines from that center mark to establish the layout lines for all three leg sockets.

Step 5: Cut the Leg Sockets

The legs are attached to the top via sockets which are made with the blade of the table saw.

A simple jig is made by taking a scrap piece of wood and cutting a 45-degree angle on each end, then splitting it down the center with a 90-degree cut.

These two 45-degree angles are oriented on the corner of the tabletop, with another piece of scrap used to flush up the corner and the two jig pieces. Another piece of scrap is screwed down to the connect the two angled jig pieces, and a simple jig is ready. To make it easier on myself, I used a jigsaw to cut a sight window and line up the layout marks on the tabletop with the blade.

Then raise the blade to the thickness of the leg strip where it will mate to the top, and start cutting a single kerf in the tabletop where each leg will join.

Step 6: Pre-Finishing the Tabletop Bottom

Now's the best chance to pre-finish the bottom of the tabletop, so do that now. I routed a heavy chamfer on the bottom side, then sanded it up to 220 grit.

Step 7: Fitting the Leg Strips Into the Leg Sockets

If you've done everything right, you now have a roughly 1/8" socket and 3/16" thick leg strips, which won't mate together yet. Now we need to fit the leg strips into the sockets.

For this, you can use a number of tools, but I used a block plane with a light setting and a random orbit sander. Essentially, you're looking to remove about 1/32" from both sides of the strip so it will fit with friction.

It's also pretty important to mark both the socket and the strip at this point to keep them in order, since you're fitting a unique strip into a specific socket.

Step 8: Finishing the Inside of the Leg Strips

You're about to lose access to the insides of the leg strips, so now's a good time to finish them. Tape off a section at the bottom of each strip about 5" from the bottom, then sand the leg strips and finish them with a finish of your choice. I like General Finishes Arm-R-Seal.

Step 9: Glue the Legs Into the Sockets

Assembly is relatively easy. Just apply wood glue to the strips and install them in their specific sockets. No clamps are necessary since you created a friction fit before.

One note is to try to flush up the top of the legs to the top-side of the tabletop. This will ensure your legs are all pointed at the same angle and at the same height.

Step 10: Glue the Leg Strips at the Bottom

Individually, each leg strip is fairly weak. By gluing them together at the bottom it becomes much more rigid.

That 5-inch section you left unfinished? We're going to glue each leg strip to one another here. Run a reasonable amount of glue — not too little that the joint will be weak, but not too much that the glue runs everywhere — and clamp together each leg so the glue can dry.

Important Note: You'll notice blue tape here preventing glue squeeze-out. I go over it more in the video, but I don't recommend you use tape here because it becomes really difficult to fish out later.

Step 11: Final Pre-Finishing & Finishing

With the glue dry, prep for finish. I routed a chamfer on the top side, and sanded the outside of the legs and the top of the table to 220 grit.

Then finish the rest of the table with your choice of finish. Again, I like Arm-R-Seal for durability and the gloss level. Once the finishing process is done, you're done. You have a beautiful, Mid-Century Modern table.