We made our first piece of furniture for our new (small!) home. When we bought the homestead, we had different plans for the house…plans that did not include living it! One year later, after months of renovation, here we are! But, we’re here without our nice furniture from our old home—because it’s just too big for this place.
We decided that instead of buying a whole new set of furniture that likely would include some toxic chemicals and not be the exact dimensions we needed, that we would build some pieces to suit our new place. Thanks to the DIY blogosphere, we have inspired plans for making several tables and shelving units, the flagship of which is a kitchen table—the centerpiece of the home of foodies (gluttons?) like us.
After some brainstorming and enthusiastic exploration of Pinterest, it seemed prudent to start small and learn everything we can about making furniture: so, we started with a bedside table—one that’s a similar style to the kitchen table we’d like. And it turned out okay!
Check out the picture of the almost-finished product. It’s a modern night stand, so it’s very simple, structurally: just a rectangle on some legs.
We found the plans from a lifestyle blog at mayanrocks.com. We built a maple table that’s 27” high, 18” wide, and 16.5” deep, and we used metal pipe fittings that are 20” high for the legs. We kept it simple: we did not stain it or seal it, but we did sand it.
We did a few things differently:
We used pipes for legs, rather than hairpin legs, because I was worried that the hairpin legs would dent our soft cork floor, and I was feeling uncharacteristically cheap. I’m not a fan of the pipe legs and will buy the hairpins next time!
We also changed the size, but out of necessity: I didn’t do some math right (hey, the first step is admitting an error, right?!), so we needed to decrease the width from 20” to 18” to get enough cuts out of our slick maple.
And as you can tell, we didn’t stain it, because the maple we bought is beautiful…we also didn’t use fancy nails. We use our brad nailer.
The supply list for this project is short. You might even have some of the supplies already.
13+ feet of 1×6” maple. You’ll need six pieces that are 18 contiguous inches and another two that are 16.5 inches
Elmer’s wood glue
1.5-inch, 18-guage brad nails
Four ½”, 20” stainless pipe fittings
Four ½” flanges
Four ½” iron caps
Rustoleum metallic spray paint
The total cost was about $130. Maple is spendy, and the pipe fittings and flanges came out to about $10 each. So, you could get some nice hairpin legs for about the same cost. And we already had a miter saw, power drill, nail gun, pencil, and measuring tape. (Use the pencil, rather than a pen, to mark the wood.)
How’d we do it?
We started off with a trip to our local building supplier. We thought we would buy 1×8’ pieces of lumber, as well as a 1”x6” for the sides—but when we got to the store, I feel in love with a beautiful lite maple—but it only came in 1×6” lengths. (No regrets at all—it looks great. We made the right decision.)
The technique we planned to follow was to cut two 20” lengths of 1×8 for the top, two for the bottom, and then use 14.5” inch lengths of the 1×6” for the sides. (Why 14.5”? because 1×8”s are not actually eight inches wide. Apparently, everyone, everywhere rounds up. As a quilter, this really bothers me. But that’s for another day.)
We made a few modifications. The first is to the size of the table. Since the maple I wanted came in 1×6” lengths, we bought 13+ feet of it. We cut six lengths of 18”—three for the top, and three for the bottom—from the longest piece of maple. Those will be parallel to each other, and the side pieces will be perpendicular. So, the length of the side pieces needed to be the width of the top—which is 16.5”. We cut two pieces to that size.
We then put the pieces for the bottom on a flat surface (our deck), and we aligned them carefully. We put wood glue on the edge of one of the side pieces and put it in place, exactly where we would want it, and we repeated this process with the piece opposite. We then put a thin line of glue on the tops of the side pieces, and we lined up the three top pieces exactly where we wanted them. If we had champs, we would have used those. Next time!
We used Elmer’s wood glue, and it dried surprisingly quickly. So, be sure that your pieces are straight before gluing. The Elmer’s glue didn’t smell badly, but it’s probably still a good idea to glue the pieces outside.
We used our handy-dandy brad nailer to fasten the wood permanently. We used 1.5”, 18-gauge nails—nothing special there.
I sanded the table first with 150-grit, and then with 200-grit sandpaper. I want it to be smooth, and it is.
Next, we attached the flanges, into which we screw the legs. We screwed them in using ¾” screws—rather thick ones, too. Check out the picture. I drilled pilot holes for them, which was a good investment of two minutes.
Here’s where we had a little snafu: the legs we bought were black. Which we wanted. But it wasn’t from paint—it was from sludge. And this sludge was hard to get off. I soaked the legs overnight in degreaser and still could not get it off. Since they cost about $20, we ended up just buying a new set that were stainless. We cleaned them with the degreaser anyway before screwing them into the flanges, and we’ll spray paint them soon.
Last step: screwing on the caps of the fittings. Super simple.
What did we learn? A lot, as it turns out. First, this was a really fun project, and we are very pleased with it. I can’t wait to make more. And there were some practical lessons:
We need a finer blade for our saw—there are very slight differences in the lengths of the wood—like less than a millimeter—that would be annoying to look at on a kitchen table for hours a day.
Hairpin legs look better and seem much easier to procure and install. And they cost the same as the pipe fittings, all costs considered.
Clamps also are an investment we’ll be making soon
Definitely don’t use pens to mark the wood, and build somewhere clean—not like our deck.
Thanks for reading. I look forward to your comments and suggestions. And please send us links to other cool DIY furniture blogs. We’re excited to build more!