Scrap Ends Table





Introduction: Scrap Ends Table

About: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ in San Francisco. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!

It might be hard to believe, but this attractive end grain table was made almost entirely with scrap wood. It looks amazing and is easy to make as it doesn't matter the size or of the scrap wood you use, or that you aren't precise with your cuts.

The only parts of this project I bought were a 3' section of walnut post and felt pads for the bottom of the feet, the rest was all leftover wood. Making an end grain table from your own scrap wood pile is not only a great reuse, but gives any nice wood scraps you have a new life.

Here's how I made it.

Step 1: Scrap Wood

We have a full wood shop at my work, with loads of people making all kinds of things. We have a "leftovers" bin where larger pieces of wood can be stored and are free for anyone to use. Some of the wood in there are really nice, but usually too small to do anything useful with.

With the exception of the walnut corner/leg pieces, this end table was made from salvaged wood from the leftover bin or the garbage. I used a combination of softwood and hardwood, and think I lucked upon some exotic wood, too!

There were bits from old furniture, weird edge bits, and off-cuts from projects that didn't work out. Some wood looked brand new and some looked like it had seen better days - all was fair game to be included in this table.

Step 2: Square and Cut to Size

This table used a lot of wood. Before we can get started we'll need to prepare each piece to make the assembly much easier.

Each piece of scrap wood was squared up using the planer and table saw, and the larger scraps were cut in to multiple pieces and down to more manageable dimensions. Knowing I wanted an irregular height bottom to my table I deliberately chopped any similar length pieces to have different lengths. Those cut offs were also saved and used.

Since most of the wood doesn't have a common dimension we're going to have lots of gaps, you're going to need thin pieces of scrap wood, too. Save all your cut-offs, chances are you can use them to fill in gaps later.

Step 3: Corner Legs

I had a really nice piece of walnut that I bought and thought it would be perfect in this project.

Marking the center on the end I bisected the piece on the table saw, then ripped the two halves in half again creating 4 equally square legs. Using a table saw sled I squared the ends.

Step 4: Planning Arrangement

Once I had my wood squared I roughly arranged them by length. This table is built upside down, so you'll need a flat work surface to assemble the pieces. Before any gluing I arranged the cut wood vertically to get get an idea of placement.

It was here I realized that I could cut most of the pieces and create more surface area from the cut-offs. I went for a design that had longer pieces in the center and shorter pieces closer to the edges.

Step 5: Edge Glue Up

Before starting any gluing, my work surface was covered with paper. Since this table is constructed upside down I knew that a lot of glue would drip from between the pieces, and I didn't want to glue my table to the table.

I planned my table surface to be 16" square, so I made a template from a straight piece of wood that was marked at 16". The walnut legs were clamped (not glued) to the template at the 16" mark to make the boundary, then scrap wood was glued to fill the space between the clamped legs using the template as a guide to keep the edge straight. Allow glue to dry completely. Repeat this process for each side of the table to create the table perimeter.

Step 6: Interior Assembly

After the perimeter of the table is constructed and the glue has dried we can focus on building up the interior. Starting with shorter pieces closer to the edges, wood scraps were glued to the the perimeter working inwards. I paid attention to wood height and tried to space out similar types of wood.

Fill entire interior of table with scrap wood, you may have to reconfigure some of the pieces as you go along to create the best arrangement based on your scraps. I used clamps to keep the perimeter stable while I built the interior.

When I couldn't get any more wood into the interior I let the glue dry overnight.

Step 7: Flip Over

Once the glue has dried completely the table was flipped over and the protective paper was peeled off. Despite my best efforts to fill the table with wood there are plenty of gaps, we'll fill these in with thin scrap wood, this time with the table right side up.

Step 8: Fill Gaps

With the table standing upright, fill in the gaps with more scrap wood. An easy way I found was to give small scraps a slight taper, allowing the tapered end to be inserted into the gap with a bit of glue to act as a plug.

Once all gaps were filled the glue was allowed to dry completely. The plug ends were then trimmed with a coping saw.

Step 9: Router Top - Make Level Edging

Though the table was constructed on a flat surface, and it looks flat, there's a lot of variation on the surface. We'll router the top to make a flat and level top, this is easier and produces better results than just trying to sand the top down.

To router the top we'll need to set up a level edge for the router to float on. I started by measuring from the ground 24" inches, then nailed a straight board level to one side. I repeated this on the opposite side to create level and parallel rails for the router to ride along.

Next I needed to make an extended table for the router to sit on in order to reach the parallel rails. My rails were 16" apart so my router table needed to be at least double that in order to reach both sides. Using a long and thick piece of flat plywood I drilled an opening in the center for the router bit, then drilled more holes for the router collar to be screwed into. I also made a spine on my router table to keep it from bowing during operation. All screws were countersunk to hide the screw heads inside the piece and keep a level base for the router to glide on.

Step 10: Router Top - Leveling

With the router table and level parallel rails on the table the surface can be leveled.

The router depth was set to take off about 1/2", then the router was carefully placed on the rails and worked around the entire surface of the table top. This table took about 30 minutes to router.

This also make a huge mess. Which is fun!

Step 11: Sanding

After leveling the table surface we can start sanding. I started at 100 grit, then worked my way to 220 grit and got a very nice and smooth finish.

Because there's a mix of hard and soft woods in this project it sands unevenly, and care was taken not to sand too aggressively and create low spots where the softer wood sanded faster.

Step 12: Sand Edges + Sides

I sanded the edges and sides with 180 grit to get rid of any sharp parts and smooth any rough spots. I wanted to leave the sides mostly rough, as I think it adds to the character of the table.

Step 13: Finish

To seal and protect the table, and to really make the end grain pop, I used a few coats of Danish Oil. Wearing protective gear and working in a well ventilated area, Danish Oil was added to a rag and rubbed into the table. After application, excess Danish Oil was wiped clean. A second coat was applied after about an hour.

Step 14: Felt Feet

To protect the floor wherever this table ends up, and to make it easy to slide around, felt pads were added to the feet of my table.

Step 15: Place

Your scrap wood table is now ready to be placed. My table is about 24" high and works perfectly as a couch end table, and having it close to my front door of my apartment means it's sure to get plenty of adoring looks when people enter.

Calling all woodworkers! Have you made your own project using scrap wood? I want to see it!

Share a picture of your version of this project in the comments below and be awarded a 3-month Pro Membership on

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88 Discussions

Must be nice to have access to oak, walnut, cherry, and whatever "scrap" wood. In order for me to make that I would likely have to buy more pieces of different types/colors of wood to make it have contrasting colors. It would be a $200.00 plus table. Not hating on the OP but he has a luxury most of us do not have.

1 reply

I work in a shared shop space, so it's definitely a bonus of where I work.

For this table, I don't think you have to buy the wood to make it effective. Loads of furniture places and shops toss smaller waste wood of all kinds that could be milled to use in a project like this. Even with all the scrap I had at my disposal, I still had to buy the walnut for the corners.


Question 4 months ago

Hey, I was wondering if you think this would be stable enough to hold ones weight e.g. as a stool/chair? Or will I need to make a few adjustments? Cheers (: ..Looks absolutely stunning btw.

1 more answer

Wood glue is incredibly strong when glued along the grain of the wood. Often, the wood will fail before the glue bond. This table has absolutely no trouble holding my adult male weight. If you make a stool like this you will need adequate depth so the glue has plenty of surface to bond to.

I'd love to see your version when it'as finished. Please share photos! :)
Happy making!

However long the legs are, that's how high your table will be. So, how high do you want your table?

Can you use an electric hand planer instead of a router on the top to get it level?

2 replies

Planers work best when the blade is moving along the grain of the wood. Using a planer on the top means hitting end grain, which a planer is not very good at resolving. I wouldn't recommend it.

Thanks. Looks like I get to add a router to my tool arsenal.


1 year ago

I want to make a butcher block table. What is the first thing needed? BTW, that table looks just right for a butcher block in my kitchen.

1 reply

OK, so it's not a scrap ends table, but, it's a trash bench! It's my first pallet wood project...well, it's my first anything project. So, since I'm a beginner and a mikeasaurusphile, I thought I'd share anyway. Was inspired to start because of the scrap ends table and the glow table. Love your work Mike!

3 replies

We all start somewhere, but you're well on your way with that good looking pallet bench.

Thanks for the kind words, brother. Thanks for sharing a picture of your work, enjoy the Pro Membership!

Thanks for your kind words, and thanks for the pro membership! Keep making awesome stuff! Any ideas what to do with antique oak flooring I rescued on bulk trash pick-up day???

If U have oak very old one get the neils out dry him up for at leasr 3 weeks and make an awesome coffee tables and sell them in coffe shop or other but if U know how to craft use your skills with some design and on the end varnish and clear liquer

Send some pic so we have a look

how does edge glue hold this lug together please respond asap

3 replies

How does the thing actually hold together even though its glue it wouldnt make a base? I'm very cnfused

This table only uses glue, it works becasue of the large surface areas being glued together.

Do you all have any ideas for making this in my STEM Challenge Class