The Two-Weekend Table





Introduction: The Two-Weekend Table

About: Vera Shur has a background in architecture, with special focus on exhibition and furniture design. Her investigations focus on the unexpected qualities of everyday materials and the back-and-forth of digital...

My husband and I invited friends over for dinner and decided to build a table for the occasion. The invitation was set for two weeks from the day we bought the wood.

Step 1: Designing the Table

We used Rhino to design the table and determine the quantity of wood needed. All the pieces were then laid out and dimensioned in 2d, to be used for reference in the shop. We also created full-scale templates of all the table leg pieces from the 3d model.

Step 2: Choosing the Wood

We decided to use walnut for the table because of its beautiful color and grain pattern. For the table top, we bought a single 8/4 thick x 15" wide x 12' long piece of walnut. The legs were made out of a single plank measuring 8/4 thick x 6" wide x 10' long.

Step 3: Jointing and Planing the Wood

We jointed the wood on all but one edge, and then planed it all to 1-1/2" thickness.

Step 4: Building the Table Top

The two pieces for the table top were laid out so that the sap wood (the light wood on the outer rings of the tree, near the bark) would be on the edge.

We did a dry-run with all the clamps in place before we glued it together. Though walnut is a pretty hard wood, we put scrap pieces between the clamps and the wood as often as possible so as not to damage the surface.

The glue job was fairly simple - a generous helping of Titebond 3 Wood Glue on both edges of the joint and then a whole lot of clamps. We tried to wipe as much of the squeeze-out as possible while it was still wet.

Once the glue dried, we used the table saw to cut off the last edge, careful to take off as little as possible so that the sap wood would remain prominent.

Step 5: Making the Beveled Edge

The design included a long, shallow bevel along the table edges. The table saw would have been difficult to use because the angle on the bevels was more than 45 degrees, so we built a giant jig and used a Festool. The jig consists of a series of 90 degree triangles screwed to a long piece of plyboo. The whole assembly was then clamped perpendicular to the table top, with the track for the Festool laid on top. It took a few passes to get it right.

Step 6: Building the Parts for the Legs

The templates for the legs were laser cut and laid out on the wood with double-stick tape. The smaller pieces were cut on the band saw. We built a simple jig with a flat edge and two precise points of contact with the wood to create the subtle taper on the longer pieces using a table saw.

Step 7: Assembling the First Leg Joint

Did you know you could turn a drill press table 90 degrees on its axis? You can! It comes in very handy when you need to drill a hole parallel to the length of the wood.

To secure the first joint, we first glued it together, masking the area around is to make clean up easier. Then we drilled a wide hole to countersink a screw, and a deep, narrow hole for the screw to go into. After the screw was in place, the hole was plugged with a dowel, which was then planed flush to the surface.

Step 8: Assembling the Second Leg Joint

Unlike the first joint, which was in tension, the second joint primarily experiences compression. To ensure a strong connection, a hole was drilled through both pieces of wood and a dowel was hammered to the bottom of the cavity. We then sawed off the remaining dowel and planed it flush to the rest of the leg.

Once both joints were secure, the whole assembly was run through the table saw to ensure that the faces touching the underside of the table top were flush.

Step 9: Attaching the Levelers

The last step before assembling the legs to the table was to add levelers made from T-nuts and flat headed screws.

Step 10: Assembling the Table

We chose to screw, rather than glue, the legs to the table to make for simple dis-assembly. A stiffener piece was screwed to the underside of the table along its centerline, with two 45 degree angles on either side. Each leg was placed to sit against the stiffener piece.

Each leg was screwed into the table top in two places, and the outer-most leg pieces were fitted with dowels that fit into holes in the table.

Step 11: Finishing the Table

We finished the table with two coats of Aquazar water-based polyurethane, in clear antique flat. We were told that oil-based polyurethane tends to yellow the wood, and we wanted to keep it as close to its natural color as possible. The trade-off is that the water-based poly raises the grain and gives it a slightly rough surface, despite very diligent sanding.

The last coat finished drying just in time to set the table for dinner.



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38 Discussions


2 years ago

Hi, I'm going to be making my own table soon and I am realy stunned by the looks of your two-weekend table.

I already have a nice tabletop ("leftover" from the kitchen, almost 90inches long) but I find it quite heavy. Are the table legs sturdy? Is the construction solid? Could I upscale the table if I upscale the tablelegs a bit?

I would like to have my table looking this elegant, but I fear that I will need a beaffier construction...

Thank you

amazing work, perfect for outdoors and garden.. how much will it cost to make? I'm really willing to make one!

1 reply

Thanks! I think if you're going to make it for the outdoors it might be a good idea to make it out of teak or some kind of cedar, not the cheapest of woods but they'll avoid rotting over time. If you have all the tools then cost is really going to depend on the wood, but I would guess you'll spend upwards of $500. Good luck!

Great looking project, That would look great in my dinning room. I like the kinda mid-century design.

Very nice project! Gorgeous conclusion!


I've used water base poly in the past and will give it a good sanding after the 1st or 2nd coat. Once it has a coat or two on it it doesn't seem to raise the gran any more. I do 2 more coats after sanding. I'm guessing your finish didn't need sanding between coats.

You could also do more coats on the top than on the legs.

Very nice work and write up

Wow, I am impressed. I love the design and the execution was outstanding. I really like your new table

One suggestion on the finish. Tung oil is an amazing finish that is very waterproof. It really makes the grain pop and doesn't change the color in any significant way. The oil soaks into the wood and then polymerizes as it is exposed to oxygen. With several applications this gives the wood a beautiful finish. Regrettably tung oil takes a while to dry and you probably wouldn't have hit your two week target.

Watch out, Tung Oil Finish is NOT Tung Oil. The big home stores sell the Tung Oil finish. I personally prefer the natural tung oil you can find at specialty woodworking stores. It give you better depths and a softer feel. From your setup I am guessing you know where to go to find it.

Thanks for the instructable.

3 replies

Great tip, thank you! Does the tung oil darken the wood? And how frequently do you recommend re-applying it?

Tung oil acts like any clear oil. It doesn't really change the color in a significant way beyond the typical "Wet" look of any oil. It is also a fully polymerizing finish and unlike mineral oil or even beeswax it doesn't evaporate over time. It becomes a solid finish just like poly or varnish. There is no re-application after you are done.
One benefit with Tung oil is repairs. Since the oil soaks the wood there is no issue with matching the surface when you repair a chip. Just do whatever you need to to the damage and re apply the Tung oil to the area.
An extra benefit is that natural Tung Oil is perfectly food safe.
My preferred method for applying it is to do the first coat as a soaker coat. I cut the Tung oil 50/50 with either turpentine or possibly a lemon oil solvent (lemon oil smells better). I then coat everything liberally with the mix. You can leave this sloppy and wet for a while. Really let it soak in for up to 24 hours. Then take a rag and wipe off the extra. At this point you need to let this coat dry for a few days at least. This will both harden the wood and give it great depth, but make sure it has lots of time to dry. A week is even better.
After the first coat I just use a lint free rag to apply coats of full strength Tung oil. I get into a pattern of really rubbing in a good coat of Tung oil, wait a day or two then rub in another. Every once in a while (especially near then end) I will take a piece of 1200 grit wet dry sandpaper and use that to buff in the wet Tung oil. This smooths the surface for a better finish.
How many times you do this depends on your patience and how you want the table to look. I have seen great results after 3-4 applications and I have heard of people going up to 20-30 applications. That sounds crazy to me, but it would give you an amazing finish.
The natural Tung Oil finish has a satin finish that can be buffed pretty glossy at times. It really brings out the depth of the grain if you do it right. This is personally my favorite finish by far.
If you do use Tung Oil please send some shots of your results. I would love to see it. Good luck

Thank you so much for the detailed explanation. I'll test this out next time and share the results.

About the rough surface from the water-based polyurethane, did you first raise the grain using plain water and then re-sand? if those troublesome fibers are knocked off beforehand I wouldn't expect the finish to raise again.

1 reply

Excellent job. As a matter of interest, did you use biscuits when you joined the two top pieces? Over time my tables always seem to come apart at the joint without biscuits. I hope it lasts a lifetime and becomes a family heirloom.

1 reply

Thank you! I've always used biscuits in the past but we decided this time that the wood was thick enough (1-1/2") for the glue to grab on to without needing to use biscuits. I hope we weren't wrong...

This table is gorgeous. I do wish, however, that some instructables appeal to us with lower budgets and show us how to do more projects with limited tools.

I do acknowledge, though, that sometimes it depends on one's ingenuity to figure it out. I'm taking that challenge, and hope you don't mind copying your design.

Again, congratulations on a simple, yet master piece of a table.

Beautiful table. Great choice of wood and design. Would quit my job and go and home to build this right now if I had a work shop... someday!