Introduction: Sofa Arm Table

About: Growing up in a rural area in the East of England I've always been interested in nature and trees and eventually found myself building things from the wood I could find. This has led me to follow my passion of…

My good friends needed something to keep drinks on whilst at the sofa and so asked me to build them a sofa arm table. The arm of their sofa certainly isn't orthodox so this wasn't as straightforward as it first seemed but adding a small piece on the side proved to be the simple solution. I made it from reclaimed pine with sapele dowels and finished it with a hard wearing varnish, so hopefully it'll cope for a while with the various spills and scrapes its likely to encounter.

I hope you enjoy this Instructable and the accompanying video, more detailed instructions follow below.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Tools -

- Pencil and rule

- Combination square

- Knife

- Tenon Saw

- Smoothing plane

- Clamps

- Mallet

- Chisel

- Flush cut saw

- Brace and 6mm bit (or drill)

- Pein hammer

Materials -

- Around 80cm of your chosen wood

- A small piece of wood to make dowels

- Wood glue

- Sandpaper

- Painters/masking tape

- Varnish (or your chosen finish)

Step 2: Making the Prototype and Cutting the Wood

I decided to make a prototype for this build as the sofa arm is such an odd shape I wanted to make sure it fit before I began making the final product.

When cutting the pine I decided to cut all the lines deeply with a knife. This was not only to mark it clearly but also to try and stop the pine breaking out when I started sawing it, a problem I regularly encounter with soft woods. There's only 4 pieces to this product (besides the dowels) and it can quite easily be made from scraps you have lying around.

After I cut all the pieces I set up a plank on my workbench to push against to plane each piece down with a smoothing plane. I also made sure to clamp each piece into the vice and make very slight adjustments with the plane to make sure all the ends were square. As this table is made with butt joints the ends of the boards, as well as the faces, need to be as square as possible.

Step 3: The First Glue Up

This first glue up is just to get all the pieces in place and solid enough to drill and insert the dowels. Gluing end grain onto anything is not really a strong enough bond to ensure years of use. After putting glue on the ends of the boards and the faces of other boards I began to clamp them all into place.

Its important to ensure that each piece is being clamped squarely to another piece. Sometimes I had to adjust the positions of the clamps to make a board angle one way or another to ensure it was all square. I also made sure to keep checking with a small square.

I waited a day for the glue to dry before the next step.

Step 4: Drilling the Dowel Holes

To get the dowels in the right place I measured half the width of the boards with a combination square. I then stuck some painters tape down on the edges and marked a line down the length of the tape with the combination square. I set the two end dowels in 1.5cm from each side and then one in the centre between them.

I added the painters tape for two reasons, firstly I didn't want to put any extra pencil marks on the table and also the tape seems to help stop too much breakout when drilling the holes. As you can see it required some creative clamping when drilling into the unsupported side!

I used a 6mm drill bit and went down to a depth of about 4.5cm, to ensure accuracy I added a piece of tape to the drill bit to show where I had to stop for each hole.

Step 5: Making and Insterting the Dowels

Using the drill bit where it was marked I held it against the sapele and made a mark just a little bit longer than the depth of the holes. After cutting that section off I could chisel down it to split pieces off and then chisel it again to split those pieces in half. It was then just a case of whittling the dowels down with a chisel or knife until they were slightly thicker than the 6mm hole.

The satisfying part is tapping the dowels through the dowel plate (a process you'll miss if you buy the dowels!). After tapping a dowel through the hole I then just used another dowel to hit on the top of it to get it out of there.

I squirted a little bit of glue into each hole and then put a small amount on each dowel before tapping them in firmly but carefully with a pein hammer.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

When the glue dried a day later I used a flush cut saw to trim off the dowels. As there were some small breakouts around the dowels I mixed up some sawdust with glue and rubbed it into the gaps. When it dried I used a plane and some sandpaper to smooth it all down and chamfer the edges.

Step 7: Applying Finish and Having a Drink!

I applied three coats of a hard wearing varnish to the arm table to try and combat the amount of spills and scrapes it might encounter. As they have a two year old boy who seems to love using it as a car platform I'm guessing its gonna need that varnish!

It was a fairly simple build and required a very slight adjustment when placing onto the sofa, I had to add more of a chamfer to the inside edge to make sure it didn't scrape the chair material too much.

If you enjoyed that then please leave a thought below, all criticisms, comments and general greetings are welcome. If you'd like to see extra photos and videos of my projects as well as what happens in and around my shed then give the Timber Anew Facebook Page a like, hope to catch you soon! Thanks a lot!