Introduction: Side Table for a Zero Gravity Chair

About: Occupation... hmmmm... I'm retired but Instructables doesn't have that in their rather meager list of choices so i chose "Hobbyist". Sure, why not. But it's not really an occupation in that I don't…

I had been looking around for one of those tables that fit on the sides of Zero Gravity chairs; you know something to set your drink and your cell phone into while you're lounging in your chair at the beach. These things are plentiful and pretty cheap on Amazon but … I don’t live in the U.S. and shipping costs were prohibitively expensive. So, I thought, how hard would it be to just *make* one?!! Turns out, it’s not that hard at all. I had a small piece of 9 mm (about 3/8”) plywood left over from another project; it was 30 cm x 60 cm (12” x 24”) which was perfect for two small tables. To keep the cup and phone from falling through their respective holes I used some plastic window screen I happened to have on hand. The only things I had to buy were some small wood screws and a couple of cans of spray paint which in all totaled less than $10 US.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

  1. Piece of plywood (about 300 x 300 mm)
    1. The table size is somewhat arbitrary I picked this size so I could make two 300 x 300 mm tables from the scrap piece of plywood I had on hand.
  2. 8 screws (#8 x 20 mm [3/4"])
  3. Plastic window screen about 250 x 250 mm (10" x 10")

Step 2: Assemble Your Tools

  • Combination square
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Miscellaneous clamps
  • Wood files
  • Sandpaper
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Side cutters
  • Hot glue gun
  • Drill and bits
  • Jig saw and blade
  • Circular saw with plywood blade
  • Protractor (or suitably sized circular object)
  • Black paint
  • Clear coat
  • Saw horses (not pictured)

Step 3: Design Your Table

Here's the fun part, design your table. As I said in the materials list, the table size is arbitrary as is the design and placement of the cut outs. I just wanted a cup hole and a phone hole so I kept the design pretty simple. The table size was dictated by the size of the piece of ply I had on hand; 300 x 600 mm (12" X 24") which would be enough for two tables, one for me and one for my wife.

The tables will be about 300 x 230 mm (12" x 9") with a 75 mm (3") diameter cup hole and a 20 x 150 mm (3/4" x 6") phone hole. This table size left a 70 x 300 mm (2-3/4" x 12") piece of plywood which will be used for the main support brace and the wooden clamps to secure the window screen material that I used to fashion the holders for the cup and phone.

Be sure to keep in mind on which side of your chair you plan on using your table; this will not only affect the layout of the cup and phone holes but also the placement of the main support brace on the underside of the table (more on this later). I'm right handed so when I drink I generally use my right hand to manipulate the cup. If I placed the cup hole on the back of the table (the side nearest the back of the chair) it would be awkward to pick up so I wanted to make sure the cup hole was positioned at the front outside corner of the table when the table was mounted on the right side of my chair with the phone hole parallel with back edge.

For strength, I decided to keep both holes 25 mm (1") from their respective edges - in hindsight, I probably could have reduced that width by at least 25% without losing any structural support.

The mounting cutout is a bit less arbitrary. Fortunately, most ZG chairs have similar dimensions in regards to mounting this type of table. The slot in the table that fits around the chair supports is 25 x 140 mm (1" x 5-1/2") and it is 9 mm (3/8") from the inside edge of the table. There is a small opening - 70 mm (2-3/4") - in this inside edge centered on the slot; leaving two 9 x 35 mm (3/8" x 1-3/8") tongues of wood on either side of the opening.

Step 4: Draw Your Table Design on the Plywood

Once you've decided how to layout your table, draw it up on the plywood. You can do this any way you want but this is what I did:

  • Measure your chair - as stated earlier, most ZG chairs are fairly generic in regards to mounting the table and the dimensions listed in Step 3 should work ... BUT...
    • It's not a bad idea to make a cardboard cut-out using the dimensions from Step 3 and try it on your chair just to be safe
      • Make any adjustments your specific chair might require
  • Measure the cup you plan on using with the table
    • I have a thermal cup that I generally use when lounging in my ZG chair which needed about a 75 mm (3") hole
  • Measure the phone for the phone slot
    • My phone is about 135 mm (5.75") long so I made the phone slot 150 mm (6") and decided on 20 mm (3/4") for the width

Once you've gathered all your measurements you're ready to draw it out on your piece of ply.

  1. Mark a line 9 mm (3/8") from one side of your piece of ply
    • The side you start this measurement from we will call the outside edge
  2. Mark another line 21 mm (3/4") from the outside edgeof the plywood
  3. Mark a line 230 mm (9") from the inside edge (opposite edge from above)
    • Eventually we will cut this line to achieve the desired table size - but not yet!!
  4. Mark another line 205 mm (8") from the inside edge
  5. Mark another line 35 mm (1-3/8") from the inside edge
  6. Mark one last line 9 mm (3/8") from the inside edge
  7. Scribe a line between the 35 mm (1-3/8") line and the 9 mm (3/8") line that is 85 mm (3-1/4") from the right edge of the table
  8. Scribe another line similarly measured from the left edge of the table
  9. Color in the resulting box
  10. Scribe a line between that inside edge of the table and the 9 mm (3/8") line that is 120 mm (4-5/8") from the right edge of the table
  11. Scribe another line similarly measured from the left edge of the table
  12. Color in this resulting box
  13. Mark a line 25 mm (1") from the right edge of the table (holding the ply in your hands so that the inside edge is against your body)
  14. Mark another line 45 mm (1-3/4") from the right edge
  15. Scribe a line between the 25 mm (1") line and the 45 mm (1-3/4") line that is 40 mm (1-1/2") from the outside edge of the table
  16. Scribe a similarly measured line from the inside edge of the table
  17. Color in the resulting box
  18. Mark a line 25 mm (1") from the left edge
  19. Using a protractor (or a properly sized round object - like a drinking glass or jar lid) mark out the circle for the cup holder
    • I simply positioned the round object so that it rested between the 25 mm (1") reference lines and traced the circle
  20. Color in the circle
  21. Using a protractor - or round object - scribe arcs on each corner of the table
    • I forgot to color these in

All maked up and ready to cut out!

Step 5: Cut Out Table

Using a skill saw with a plywood blade:

  1. Cut line #1 from Step 4 - call this "Strip #1"
  2. Cut line #2 from Step 4 - call this "Strip #2"
  3. Cut line #3 from Step 4
    • The larger piece will become the table, the smaller piece will be "Strip #3"

Now, using a drill fitted with a bit just slightly larger than the jigsaw blade you will be using (picture #3):

  1. Drill pilot holes in the opposite corners of the colored box #9 in Step 4
    • Keep the drill bit inside the lines that create the corners
  2. Drill pilot holes in the opposite corners of the colored box #12 in Step 4 (as above)
  3. Drill a pilot hole in the colored circle # 20 in Step 4

With your jigsaw cut out the shapes marked out in Step 4 and Strips 1, 2, & 3 as described below (picture #4)

  • Cut out colored box #9
  • Cut out colored boxes #12 and #17
    • Once you cut out the mounting slot make sure it fits your chair and make any adjustments necessary
      • I had to make an allowance for the brace that attached two of the chair's support legs (pictures #5 and #6)
      • I used a 1/4 round file to make this notch
  • Cut out colored circle #20
  • Cut off corner arcs #21
  • Cut Strip #1 into four 20 mm (3/4") pieces and two 100 mm (4") pieces
    • These will be used to secure the netting for the phone and cup holders on the underside of the table
  • Cut a 225 mm (9") piece from Strip #2 to be used on the main support brace
  • On Strip #3, scribe a line 75 mm (3") from one end and a diagonal line through the resulting smaller rectangle
  • Cut the diagonal line with a jigsaw then cut the vertical line - these pieces will become the main support brace and its two angle braces
  • Using wood files and sandpaper smooth, shape, and round all edges (picture #7)

Picture #8 shows all of the pieces; the table, the main support brace and its two angle supports, the long leveling strip, and the blocks to hold the window screen for the cup and phone holders.

Step 6: Attach Main Support Brace and Net Blocks

First mark where the small wooden blocks used to hold the window screen to the cup and phone holes will attach to the underside of the table. Number the top and bottom of each block and place a matching number on the table directly under where each block will attach (picture #1).

Drill pilot holes in each of the blocks - these holes should be large enough so the the threads of the mounting screws do not engage the wood in the block - you'll want to countersink the screws, I used a 1/4" cril bit in reverse for this. Position the blocks and use these holes to drill smaller diameter pilot holes to the underside of the table (picture #1).

Attach the blocks to the table with the #8 screws. As it turns out these screws are about 2 mm too long so I clipped off the ends with some side cutters (pictures #2 and #3). I ran an unclipped screw about 6mm into each hole so the clipped points would be able to bite the wood easier when I used them.

Hot glue 225 mm (9") piece from Strip #2 to the main support piece (picture #4).

Hot glue the main support block in place using the guides shown in picture #1. This piece will be slightly offset to the phone hole side of the table. Use your Combo square to help keep the main support brace level while the hot glue sets.

Mark and number the location of the angle braces - make sure to keep them clear of the cup and phone holders (picture #5). Check to make sure the angle braces are flush against the main support brace - some filing here may be necessary.

Hot glue the angle braces to the table and the main support brace.

Once the hot glue sets the table is ready for paint.

Step 7: Paint and Attach Window Screen

I chose black paint and put a protective clear coat over the top of it; a couple of coats of each.

I then removed the painted screen holders and used them to secure the screen to the cup and phone holes (pictures #1 and #2). The numbers on the bottom of the blocks and on the table beneath the blocks will help keep everything straight.

And the completed table mounted on the chair is seen in picture #3.

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