Introduction: Table/Breakfast Bar
I've had these two logs laying around since I bought the house, as the previous owner left them. That being said, I've been wanting to undertake a somewhat larger woodworking project, but just didn't have the time. Until now! The instructions for this project are somewhat generalized so that you can make your own, unique table or bar utilizing similar techniques.
- large wood slab(s) for your table top
- a planer (manual/electric doesn't matter)
- wood for the legs (I used 1x4's but that's only because they were laying around)
- stain of choice
- polyurethane coating of choice
- synthetic bristle brush
- rag or paper towel
- sandpaper 80-240 grit
- wood screws
- drill bits
- circular saw
- wood glue (optional)
- miter saw (optional)
- table saw (optional)
Step 1: Measure Your Space
This is the most important step of all the steps. Grab your favorite tape measure and determine what size you want your table to be. Average table height is 28"-30" counter height is 35"-36" bar height is 40"-42" (though some are 45"-48".) Take into account the width of your door. This one almost got me when it was time to bring it inside.
Step 2: Gather Materials
For my table top, I happened to have what I presumed to be a pine tree that was milled in half. In it's current form, this was useless to me, so I borrowed a chainsaw mill and cut them down to 2" thick boards. I don't reccomend this. It was a pain and made a lot more sawdust than I thought it would. If you can, go to a local lumber yard, or warehouse to get yourself a solid, pre-milled slab of wood for your table top. As far as tools go, you will need some kind of saw. I was able to do all of my cuts with a handheld circular saw and a triangle. However, in a lot of situations a miter or a table saw would've worked better. Wood glue is optional, and the table is assembled with screws, but if you have minor cracks, holes, etc. you can fill them with a homemade putty from the fine sawdust you make throughout your project combined with wood glue.
Step 3: Cut Your Slab to Size
Measure and mark where you need to cut to make your table top the desired size. Remember: measure twice, cut once. This is the piece you probably spent the most on, and you probably didn't buy a spare, so make sure it's the right size. If you chose to use multiple pieces to make the top, you'll need to make sure the sides where they meet are flush. You may need to make a cut along the edge, but if the pieces are only slightly off, you can simply plane it in the next step. I recommend using a table saw for large, straight cuts like this.
Step 4: Plane
Grab your planer of choice, and plane your table top to a smooth, flat finish. If you are using multiple slabs, plane one side, screw on some horizontal braces like in the picture, and plane what will be the top surface as one whole piece so that you maintain even thickness across the multiple sections. These braces will come off later for the legs.
Make sure the screws from the cross braces do not poke through the wood. If the wood sticks out or bulges at all where the screws went, they may be just under the surface. Do Not Plane until you replace them with shorter screws. Hitting one of these screws with the planer could ruin your blades.
Step 5: Cut the Legs
I used 1x4's for the legs, but for a large table like this one, I would recommend something larger like 4x4's for extra stability. At this point, you need to make the decision of if you want to assemble now, and stain later, or stain pre-assembly. Alternatively, you can assemble, disassemble, stain, and reassemble, but that sounds exhausting. I decided to stain after assembly because I was mostly making this up as I went along. Originally, I wanted to cut the legs at 45 degrees, and do a simple farm table style x, but this led to the table being shorter than I wanted to, so I cut the legs at a 15-ish degree angle, and cut them to length so they would be 37" from the ground bringing my table height to 40" I used a scrap piece of 1x4 to make a template for cutting the weird angle. I cut two 37" pieces to go between each pair of legs for extra support. Remove the horizontal braces you made earlier and attach the legs like in the picture. Cut two more pieces the same length of the horizontal braces and screw it on the bottom side of the braces, flush with your legs. screw the legs to this piece for stability.
Step 6: Making the Shelf
Not only is the shelf a shelf, but it serves as a cross beam to keep the legs straight and dampen the table wobble that occurred from having thin, spindly legs on a big, heavy table.
- Measure the distance from between the table legs and cut a slab to length
- Decide a good height for your shelf, and find something sturdy to hold it at or around that height while you work
- utilizing some of the scrap you have made, make four 4-ish inch pieces that your shelf can sit on, and four triangles (I cut two pieces of 1x4 square, then in half diagonally)
- drill pilot holes at 45 degrees, about 1/2" from the edge in the pieces that your shelf will sit on, and attach the triangles you cut perpendicular and so that they sit flush with the edge.
- attach these pieces to your legs at the desired height, so that they are level
- attach the shelf to the braces, screwing from the bottom of the brace into the shelf
Step 7: Some Extra Support
After adding the shelf, since it only braced the back two legs on each side, I still hide quite a wobble. I could have scrapped them and bought some sturdier wood for the legs, but I'm too stubborn and I had more 1x4's laying around, so I did this instead.
- Approximately 4-6" below the shelf, take a 1x4, hold it level, mark the edges of the legs with a pencil and cut. This requires 3 hands, so clamps or another person can help. You will have to do this for both sides, as they may come out to slightly different lengths.
- Measure the distance between the legs, subtracting the width of the boards, in this case two 1x4s= 2" (should theoretically be the same as the shelf, but we're going to measure thrice, cut once)
- Use a triangle or square to make sure the cross beam is perpendicular. attach with two screws in the center. Repeat for the other side.
- Line up and level the entire brace and attach it with screws to each leg.
Step 8: Sand It
Sand everything, paying particular attention to the table top, you'll want this to be the smoothest.
Start with the lower grit, and work your way up to 240.
if you have gaps you want to fill, collect the dust from sanding and mix with wood glue until it is a putty-like consistency and fill it in the gaps. you have about 10 minutes before the glue sets so work fast. Additionally, make sure you if you get any glue on a surface you want to stain wipe it off right away. The glue makes a barrier that the stain will not penetrate.
After it dries sand over these spots again.
vacuum and clean all the sawdust. When you think it's clean clean it again.
Step 9: Time to Stain and Finish
If you planned ahead, and did not assemble everything, this will be easy.
ensure that all of the surfaces that you wish to stain are completely clean. Check the manufacturer instructions for the stain first, but most recommend prepping with mineral spirits.
Follow the directions for application and drying for both the stain and polyurethane finish.
for stain, if the directions do not specify, it is best to use a synthetic brush, going across the grain, and wiping away excess with a rag or paper towel with the grain.
apply polyurethane finish per manufacturer instructions, and allow everything to dry.
assemble if you haven't done that already
Step 10: Enjoy!
You built a table! That's awesome! Make it a family heirloom and give it to your children and grandchildren.
I may decide to put resin in the larger crack later, and I plan to make a matching set of stools with the leftover wood from this project, so look out for those instructables coming soon.
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