When we have a family sit-down dinner we sometimes want a table runner for decorative purposes and also as a way to protect the tablecloth from heat or drips. This project combines both goals into a single finished product.
TOOLS and MATERIALS
Table saw or saw (depending on the material you start with)
Sander or rasp
Wooden slats (1/4" x 1-1/4" x 8")
2" jute webbing
Razor blade, box, cutter or sharp utility knife
1/2-3/4" plywood assembly board larger than your finish runner size
1/2" spacer board (approx. 1/2" x 2" x 8")
Backer board, as long as the assembly board (approx. 1/2" x 2" x 24")
Weights (to compress the glued parts as the glue dries)
Protective finish and related items
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PREPARING THE PARTS
Buy enough blind stop for your project or cut it yourself from larger boards. I started with salvage pallet wood, planed it on both sides,and ripped it to the thickness I wanted and then planed one side each long strip smooth. The strips were cut into 8" slats and all four sides of each end of each slat were sanded to remove any roughness. My finished slats are 1/4" x 1-1/4" x 8". I cut a spacer board to use between slats as I glued them to the jute webbing. Mine was about 1/2" x 2" x 8" and insured uniform spaces between the slats. Calculate the length of the jute strips based on the number and width of your slats and the space between slats, and cut them to length.
Apply a protective finish to the ends, sides and top of each of the slats. Leave the side of the slat to be glued to the jute bare for better adhesion. If you use a clear finish you may want to make a small pencil mark on the bare side so you know which side is which. Let the finish dry per the manufacturer's instructions.
For my 24" x 8" runner I started by drawing a line on the assembly board parallel to the near long side. These lines are the horizontals. A second line is drawn 2" from the first. These lines are the guides for the jute strip closest to you. Draw a third line parallel to the second, 2" from it and another 2" from that. These are the guide lines for the jute strip farthest from you. A final line is needed at the left end to mark the start of the runner. This line is the vertical. Make sure it is perpendicular to the other long lines you have drawn.
Start 2-3 wire nails in the backer board. Cut a piece of wax paper large enough to cover the lines in the runner assembly area and nail the backer board to the assembly board 2" from the last line you drew. The boards will both secure the wax paper and serve as a stop for the slats as you assemble. The wax paper will enable you to see the guide lines and will prevent any glue that soaks through the jute strips from sticking the strips to the assembly board.
Align the jute strips on the assembly board so their left ends are about 1/4" to the right of the vertical line. Apply a good bead of glue to each strip as shown above. Make sure the slat is against the backer board and aligned with the vertical line. Weight down the slat until the glue is dry. Use the spacer to locate where the next slat will go, apply glue to the jute strips, and position the slat. Remove the spacer, weight down the slat, and let the glue dry. Once you have the first two slats in place you can install the rest of the slats. I only did about four slats at a time. Always make sure the jute strips are inside their guide lines before gluing. If you end up with some of the jute strip extending beyond the last slat, cut it off with the razor blade, box, cutter or utility knife. Sign and date your table runner.
Between uses the runner can easily be folded or hung from a coat hanger and a couple of spring-type clothes pins or large binder clips. These runners would make creative gifts for friends or relatives. Remind people to just wipe them down, don't immerse, because the glue will soften.Try a variety of finishes.