Having enough room to do a variety of art projects is challenging when you are in a limited living space. I was recently in San Diego on vacation and attended 3 workshops that launched me in new directions... and each one requires space. Linocuts, mixed media painting and bookbinding require more space than my travel easel and a side table that I've been using in the back bedroom.
However, I still will need a sleeping space, so the countertop needs to be removable too. The only other sleeping space is on my couch and it is not a good nap couch, let alone sleeping all night.
I looked at various designs, asked people who have built kitchens and cabinetry and settled on a "Three 2x10" design, covered with loose lay vinyl flooring left over from my autumn renovations. It stands 36" high, 30" deep and 10 ft wide.
I built and assembled this project by myself. It makes it harder in a couple of places but it is not insurmountable building it solo.
This was quick and cheap enough that it might work in a small garage or shed so long as there are studs to screw into. The 2x10s can be whatever length you need.
Step 1: Materials & Tools to Make a 30-inch Wide Countertop
Materials (under $75 CAD):
- 3 - 2x10 as long as the width of the room (10ft in my case) (straight as you can get - important later) ($55 CAD)
- 1 - 2x 4 12 ft ($7)
- A few 2-inch wood screws
- 24 - 3/8 Dowel pins ($4)
- Glue (I used hot glue and it was not the easiest to work with)
Optional: vinyl flooring to cover the surface of the countertop (leftovers - dollar value??)
Optional: scrap wood or plywood (to make a centre post or leg if necessary) - (leftovers)
- Doweling jig - I used 24 3/8" diameter pins (REALLY good kit for this project and only about $30 CAD! Spent $4 CAD more for extra pins)
- Screwdriver or Impact driver
- Hand saw
- Tape measure
- Stud finder
- Sharp knife or boxcutter
- Axe- heavy hammer, actually. The warped boards were... difficult.
Step 2: Cut and Attach 2x4's to the Bedroom Wall
Cut two 30-inch pieces from the 12 ft 2x4. Find the studs and screw the pieces into the wall at either side of the bedroom. Cut the remaining 2x4 in half. Find the studs in the facing wall and attach the pieces to the wall (These two are hidden in the photos - it's under that first dry-fit board.)
Dry-fit a 2x10 to check if you have it level. Mine was not quite level by a smidge because I'm working solo. I knew I'd never get it any closer, so, "ONWARD!"
Step 3: Cut 2x10s to Sit on the 2x4s
I didn't realize a ten-foot piece of dimension lumber can be 10 foot plus 1/2 inch. Since my bedroom was exactly 10 feet wide, I had to cut off 1/2 inch to fit on top of the 2x4's.
Oops! Careful to NOT mistake 9'10" mark as the 10-foot mark. Sure looked like "10" at the time... Good thing I had some leeway! (Metric measurement is simpler and I find I don't make goofy mistakes like this. Millimetres, metres, kilometres... nothing else, especially NOT centimetres!! Comments?)
Dry-fit the 2x10's in place. Hopefully, the three lay flat, and nice and straight. Doweling will force them to line up but it takes more effort if they are warped. I had one slightly warped 2x10 and that was difficult.
Step 4: Consider Power Access
My electrical plugin was under the middle of the table. So I had a choice of extension cords or making a hole in my first 2x10. I used the largest drill bit I have and then jigsawed the hole large enough to pass cords through.
Step 5: Join Edges With Doweling Jig
To make the countertop as level and straight as possible, I joined the edges with dowels. One side was glued, the other is dry so that it can be pulled apart (i.e. removable!).
I stood the 2x10 on its edge, resting the ends on the 2x4s in the wall. Working solo, I could easily operate the jig. Love the ingenuity and simplicity of the jig. Made everything so much easier. All dowels are dead centre on each board. This is significant when putting the boards together.
After the dowel pins (3/8") were glued in one side, I pushed the boards together. The first two went together pretty easily. But the warp in the first two made it difficult to join them to the third board.
Step 6: Joining the Third Board to the Other Two (with Dowel Pins)
Joining the third board was made difficult because I was working alone. Rather than waiting for help to arrive to hold the other boards down or up or this way or that way, I used a "convincer" as my Dad called a heavy hammer. Always being thiiiiis close to the dowels fitting meant I had to extend some holes sideways to fit where I missed. Or some pins got "tapped" into place with the back of the axe.
It is NICE & LEVEL now because all the boards' surfaces are held level to each other by the dowels.
Step 7: Add Vinyl Flooring As Cover Over 2x10 Top
I cut and fit some leftover floating flooring I had from renovations this fall. (Not having to match tongue & groove was way easier.) The vinyl is easily scored with a sharp pocket knife or box cutter. Then bend it a little and flip it over. The score is visible on the back and a second cut separates the two pieces nicely.
I glued three pieces of vinyl to the 2x10 closest to my waist. This gave me the permanent edge to line up all the floating pieces. I used a hot glue gun and it worked pretty well except having to reglue one spot where it cooled too quickly for me.
As I cut pieces, I offset the vinyl pieces to avoid making a seam in one spot.
I had to cut smaller pieces to fit the back wall and around the hole for the power cords. I could have avoided this in retrospect if I had cut a strip off the pieces I glued onto the first board. Then the small strips would have been wider. Better planning, buuuut it worked so there's that...
Once all the pieces were cut and fitted, I flipped them over and scratched a number into all the loose pieces. This means I can get them back on top in the correct location if I have to remove the countertop.
My vinyl cutting measurements were made in millimetres. No mistakes made. :)
Step 8: Smooth the Sharp Edge of the Vinyl
The edge of floating flooring is sharp! I guess it has to be to make a close join but still... so I improvised a solution using a Dremel. Don't judge! Maybe a small block plane would do a better job?
Step 9: Done!
Artwork is begun now and so far no visiting relatives to make me take the countertop apart.
Hope it works for you!
Comment: Lighting the countertop turned out to be tricky because the bedroom light fixture is right behind my back when I'm working. Comments?
Comment 2: The whole was a tiny bit springy so I cut a piece of D grade plywood the right height to be the centre post and slid it in, unattached. I jigsawed it curved so it extends to the front edge so I cannot kick it as I'm working. It presses upward against the springiness of the boards.