I love the look of used wooden building blocks and have used them to make a couple of tables. This one is one that I made as a wedding gift for a friend. This is a project easily completed in a weekend as long as you have the materials on hand.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- Lots of building blocks.
- A piece of thick plywood as large as your planned tabletop.
- Trim boards for the outside edges of your table.
- A base or legs for your table.
- Wood glue
- Tape measure
- Hammer and nails
- Paintbrush and small pail
I have been somewhat successful in finding used wooden blocks at our local thrift stores. You might have some kicking around already or you can ask friends. I have a preference for using the simpler shapes but you can use cylinders and triangles and other shapes that might work. A typical end table takes a fairly substantial pile of blocks. I have also found that manufacturers definitely have different dimensions so you might not be able to easily mix between companies (not that they are ever labeled).
I love finding trashed tables with good bases. The one I used was from a restaurant table that I reclaimed from the landfill. If you want something new, you can order from tablelegsonline.com (I am not affiliated - just a very happy customer.) Or you can build something yourself!
Step 2: Layout Your Table and Cut the Sub-tabletop
Using you blocks, plan your pattern. This is pretty easy - just play with them. Maybe you want something random. Maybe lines. Or concentric rings. I have usually done what I can to maximize the size of the table with some sort of pattern.
Then measure your table top's dimensions.
Cut a piece of thick, flat, plywood (I used 3/4 inch) that is the same size. It doesn't have to be pretty, but it should be flat. Mine was a little warped so I screwed 2x4 boards underneath to level it up nicely.
Step 3: Glue Your Pieces in Place
You should be able to just spread the glue on the surface of the plywood and brick that contact each other but you could also add some between bricks. I will use the trim to contain the edges of the bricks though so they are not likely to be knocked free.
Step 4: Trim the Outside Edge and Seal
I used some hemlock boards that I had around to make a rough frame around the edge of the table. I was able to use finishing nails to nail into some of the larger blocks, the other trim boards and the 2x4 pieces that I had screwed to the plywood.
If you want to, you can use a paintbrush to put a coat of polyurethane on the blocks. The first table that I made like this, I used a pour-on epoxy to level the entire surface. I wanted this one to be a little more rustic because the epoxy one definitely turned out more glossy.
Step 5: Add the Base
This base attached with just a few wood screws. I had previously repainted it when I was doing another project and had leftovers to use up.
My first building block table was similar, but I didn't use a base layer below the blocks and then used the poured-on epoxy. The gluing took much longer and the epoxy took a long time to dry. Then, I had to sand many of the edges to square it enough to put the trim on. In the end, I think like the slightly more rough look of the weekend version I detailed in this Instructable.