Make a Custom Sewing Table




About: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is Sam and I'm a community manager here at Instructables.

For years I've wanted to make myself a large, dedicated sewing table. I finally got around to it and am very happy with how it turned out. 

The table is 32 inches tall with a 4-foot square work surface.

The large work surface is great for cutting and pinning fabric, and provides a huge outfeed area to help make large or bulky sewing projects much easier to manage. The table is solid and quite heavy, so there is no shaking or vibration while sewing. It also has built in storage drawers to keep necessary items close at hand whether sewing on one side, or doing prep work on the other. 

If you're interested in making something similar, hopefully there are lots of ideas here that will help you out. The methods I show here could be used to build a table of whatever size you need, whether for sewing or otherwise.

If you have an existing table you'd like to mount your sewing machine in, steps 4, 5, and 6 should give you some ideas of how you could accomplish that. Hope you learn something useful here. Thanks for taking a look!

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Step 1: Skirt Structure

This is the skirt structure of the table, and is the key that holds everything together. The table top is screwed to this from the underside, and the legs are bolted onto its corners. 

The table top and skirt structure are made from 3/4" pine plywood. (This would not normally be my first choice, but I had some left over from another project.) You could use any relatively smooth and blemish-free plywood, but if you can stand the price I'd recommend furniture grade birch.

To build the skirt structure, I began by cutting six 5" by 48" strips of plywood. Four of these were trimmed to 38 1/2" to use as the outside pieces of the skirt. The four corner braces are 5" long with both ends beveled at 45 degrees. These were glued and temporarily tacked in place with nail gun brads 1 1/2" in from the ends of each side piece. Everything was then pre-drilled and fastened securely with screws. 

The two remaining strips of plywood were trimmed to fit and installed on the inside of the skirt frame with glue and pocket screws to add support for the table top and the drawers.

The drawers added a lot of complexity to the project, and I debated just leaving them out. If I had, I still would have put the cross pieces in the skirt structure to keep the table top from dipping or sagging in the middle over time.

The drawers were made from pine with 1/4" plywood bottoms. These were installed with various modifications and support pieces added to the skirt structure to make everything fit and work together nicely. In the end I was glad I included them, as they are a very nice feature.

Step 2: Legs

For the legs I purchased two 8-foot, 4" by 4" pine beams. From the best sections of these I cut four 31 1/4" pieces to make the table legs. 

To bolt these to the skirt structure, a 45 degree notch had to first be cut out of the top portion of each leg. I did this using a bandsaw with a homemade jig to hold the pieces at the correct angle.

For the bolts that get embedded into the tops of the table legs, you can purchase special table leg bolts that have coarse, lag screw-type threads on one half. You drill a hole where you want the bolt to stick out, and with a nut threaded onto the bolt side as far as it will go, you screw the lag portion down into the wood and then remove the nut. This is one option, but these fancy bolts are a little too pricey in my opinion.

I went a different route, and just threaded a regular 4-inch bolt through holes bored from the outer side of each leg, and then plugged the holes with a large dowel. This was pretty much an experiment, but I like the way it turned out and would do it again for future table legs.

The photos have additional notes on how this was all done.

Step 3: Table Top

The table top is a 48" square piece of pine plywood. I used a router to round over the top edge, and filled an any voids or gaps with wood filler. 

Step 4: Cut Out for Sewing Machine

This is where the fun begins!

A lot of what needs to happen next depends on the machine you have. However, the goal is the same. You want to have the sewing surface of your machine close to level with the table top (slightly above is ok, below is not), and still have easy access to change the bobbin and do maintenance as needed.

For me, I will be using older flatbed sewing machines in this table. They have a (mostly) universal bed size. After some careful measuring and marking, I cut an opening that was six inches back from the front edge, and four inches in from the side. I used a forstner bit to cut the corners nicely, and a jig saw to cut out the rest. 

I used a router to give the top of the opening a very small round over to remove the sharp edge.

Step 5: Mount Sewing Machine

I had some pin hinges out of an old sewing case which I installed into the table top. Along with these I installed some adjustable supports to the front edge of the opening. See photo notes for details.

Step 6: Another Mounting Option

I built this little table underneath the opening to act as an alternate mounting option if needed at some point. (It is screwed in place to its support rails in this photo, but in the finished table it is not. It can be easily slid in and out of place from underneath.)

I actually keep it in place to catch any oil drips, so it serves that purpose for now even if I never use it to support an actual machine.

I just wanted to show this because a small sub-table like this might be the easiest mounting option for most people.

Step 7: Table Finishing

The skirt structure was painted a shade of green that I liked.

The legs, drawers, and table top all received two coats of polyurethane with a light sanding of 220 grit sandpaper after each coat was dry. The table top was then waxed with furniture wax to make it nice and slick.

Pocket holes were then drilled all around the inside of the skirt structure for fastening the table top in place.

Step 8: Assembly

The table top was screwed in place from underneath.

The table legs were then bolted in place, and the table was flipped over and the drawers installed. I added some little bumpers made from sticky-back craft foam to the inside of the drawer faces.

The wood I used for the legs was fairly green and wet when I built this, and continued to shrink and acclimatize once the table was indoors. For the first few weeks I had to occasionally tighten the bolts to keep the table from getting wobbly. This was a little disconcerting at first until I realized what was happening... 

There was shrinkage!! 

Step 9: Finishing Touches

To keep dust off the machine when it's not being used I cover it with the top of an old sewing case. A straight edge was hung on a nail on one of the table legs since it was too big to put in the drawers, and some nearby shelves hold additional sewing and craft items.

Thanks again for taking a look!

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    32 Discussions


    3 years ago

    It's nice if you have room for a table that large. I'll have to modify so it's half the size and having a fold-up 'other half' for when needing a larger surface to cut fabric etc.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks! It ended up taking too much room at my house and I finally had to sell it. I was sad because it was so useful!

    I'm in the process of building smaller one to replace it, but no idea when it will be completed :)


    3 years ago

    I love your sewing table! And your vintage sewing machine. I have a vintage sewing machine that is in need of a customized table like this one. This is great if you have space in your place so you just make stuff rather than moving around this beauties every time you need to work on a project. Love this ! thanks your tutorial.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks so much for the inspiration. I re-purposed an old oak computer desk by cutting a hole in the top and using the keyboard tray to set the machine's wood base on. Works great!

    1 reply
    seamsterandrea biffi

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I understand!

    I've actually sold this this, as it just ended up being too big for what we needed! It was nice while we had it, but we didn't really have the space for it. Live an learn, I guess.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    That table is nice, but that machine is awesome! I recently inherited my grandmother's 1946 Singer. I need to repair it, but I can't wait to use it.

    3 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! It a great old machine. What model is your singer?

    You better jump on that, there's nothing better than sewing on an old machine that you fixed up yourself!


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I like this table a lot. I found your instructable while searching for table ideas for my nearly fully restored 1937 Singer 201K3.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I hope you're able to make something suitable for that old beauty. Those old singers are everywhere it seems, but a fully restored one will be quite rare!

    Now that I'm quilting and really need my machine bed to be level with the table, I think I need to try this. I'll probably convert an existing table, but your instructions will help me get it right :)


    5 years ago on Step 5

    Nice job! I collect old Sewing Machines, and my thought on it, is one could just make the appropriate cutout in an existing thrift store table, if you're not as much a woodworker.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Geat! Love your work. A salvaged Ikea table would be perfect. I wonder how insetting the mat would work but then it wouldn't be possible to hook a straight edge. . . . I get the garage so my GF got the spare bedroom. Had to give up my table as there just wasn't room.

    If someone doesn't have a pocket hole jig, 1/4" metal shelf brackets work. Drill the 1/4" hole in the apron then screw the shelf lip part to the table bottom. A slot in the shelf lip can be used with solid wood tops to allow for expansion/contraction with weather/humidity.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! Over the years I've sewn on all sorts of little tables, cabinets, kitchen table, etc., and this really is the best so far.

    My wife and I finally have a spare bedroom, so I claimed it as my own little creative man-space. In my opinion, what a table saw is to a workshop, a nice big sewing table is to a craft room.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for the compliment, and for the query. Here's why it is the way it is:

    My intention was to build a large, dedicated sewing table that is ready to go at all times. The early sewing machines and tables were designed to double as decor pieces when they were not in use for sewing; my sewing table is a full-time tool with no other considerations.

    There is never any time where I would want to have the machine folded away, hence the nature of the design. Function... Form.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I see. Then it really is superb.

    Incidentally, I have a 50's kitchen table which has a very similar structure, except that the corner pieces are steel. So yours is really more elegant. Am impressed.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    love the work space are....I have one....but its compact. Congrats on making the finalist! Hope you win what you wished for :-)