After using a cheap plastic card table as my only table for nearly two years I decided it was time for a change. I had seen some large wooden tables that I liked and figured that I could make one myself. I also used reclaimed wood to make this table so it's a bit cooler looking (and environmentally friendly!).
The finished product is heavy, but not too bad. I'm using Douglas Fir which is a bit soft. Marks will show on the table, but to me that is okay. You may want to adjust your wood choice if you like something different.
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Step 1: Assemble Your Materials
To make this table I used three pieces of reclaimed Douglas Fir. Each piece was 3"x10"x5'. I ended up buying five of them from M Fine Lumber in Brooklyn. They came from this 25' piece of wood that they were nice enough to cut into pieces for me.
As far as other consumables go you'll need some wood glue, tenons (or biscuits), and some table legs. I got some of these from Ikea. Here's the link to the legs.
I also used a hammer and vice grips to remove nails, a circular saw, a mortiser, a rubber mallet, sander, and a drill/screwdriver.
Step 2: Clean Up the Wood
If you use reclaimed lumber it will likely come to you really dirty, not straight, and covered in total crap.
The first thing I did was go over each piece with a hammer and a pair of vice grips to remove the nails and other interesting metal objects that had found their way into the wood over the course of it's previous life. This is really important because if there's any metal left in the wood it can mess up your tools when you use them on it (I suppose this could also cause an accident where you could be injured or killed. Be careful). It's probably a good idea to use a metal detector to make sure you got everything out.
After the metal was removed I decided to use my sander with a very rough abrasive in it to remove all the crap on the outside of the wood. This made the rest of the process a lot cleaner which is important to me because I'm doing all this in the same space that I live in.
Next you're going to want to use your saw to make sure all the corners are at 90 degree angles. I used my circular saw, but a table saw would probably be better. Actually what would be great is a jointer. I don't have one of those though, so I'm making do with what I have.
Step 3: Join the Table Together
I used my Domino to cut mortises in the pieces and then glued them together with tenons in place. There are 28 mortises in the table. I imagine you could get by with less, but I was a little nervous about this falling apart.
Step 4: Sand the Surfaces, Attach Legs
I sanded the surfaces to make sure they were smooth and splinter free. I started with 60 grit and then went up all the way to 220 to make sure it was very smooth. This makes a huge difference so I think it's worth spending some time on.
The legs are from Ikea. I think they are for expanding a countertop. We've been using them at my work to build desks for people so I figured they would be great for this too. They cost about $30 each so not too bad. I like the contrast of the metal to the natural wood.
Step 5: Apply Finish to the Table
I used General Finishes Arm R Seal which is a penetrating resin. This stuff was really easy to apply and has a nice look. You should put a few coats on so that the finish is sturdy enough to withstand some abuse from moisture and hot plates.
Hope you enjoy it! It was fun to make and really rewarding to use every day!