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DIY - Tutorial for Making a Basic Entryway Table

Thursday, January 26, 2017
Hey there!  I built this entryway table last month just before Christmas and I am FINALLY getting around to posting about it.  Truthfully, I've been so busy with a gazillion projects I hardly have time for anything!

 Anyways - let's get to business.  The options are endless for designing a table but I wanted mine to be simple, functional and to use what wood I had on hand (three 2x4x10 boards).  Wait. What?  3 boards!?  YES!


 You may have noticed I love using wood plugs by now.  It adds so much character!  I really wanted to steer clear from using pocket holes with this project.  I've discovered pocket hole joinery isn't as strong as it's cut out to be - you really should glue all your joints so they don't pull apart over time (season changes).  You can also see that I did some lap joints - it also adds character but is much stronger than your regular butt joint.

 The angled boards are secured with glue and large dowels that were pounded in.

Overall dimensions: 32" tall, 44" long and 13-1/2" deep.

Like I mentioned above, you'll be cutting your components out of 3 2x4's that are 10 feet long.

 Read over the supplies and tools needed to see if this is a project for you!

SUPPLIES NEEDED
3 - 2"x4"x10' Boards
1/2" diameter dowel
1/4" diameter dowel
3/8" wooden plugs
Wood Biscuits (opt.)
2-1/2" wood screws
3/8" wood plugs
Wood Glue
Masking Tape
Wood Finish of Choice

TOOLS NEEDED*
Table Saw
Miter Saw
Drill + Bits
3/8" Forstner Bit
Biscuit Joiner (opt.)
Wood Clamps
Mallet
Flush Cutting Saw

*I also used my planer and jointer for this project (who wouldn't if they had them!?).

COST: Approximately $15 for wood!

GENERAL: Please read through this post before you get started so you feel comfortable with each step.  Work safely, wear protective eyewear and ask for help if you need it!  Have fun!

This diagram shows how your components fit best from the 3 boards.

CUT LIST*:
44" (x4) - top
32" (x2) - legs
38-1/2" (x1) - top/bottom stretchers
10" (x2) - side stretchers
26" (x1) - angled supports

TIP: Label your pieces on the ends.

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These next steps are optional but I'll show you how I used my jointer and planer to make this framing lumber perfectly square (easier to work with).


Run a wide-face of each board through the jointer.

You don't need to take off very much.  Take 2-3 passes depending on how bad the board was initially.

With the side you just flattened against the fence, run one of the narrow sides through the jointer.

You now have a perfect 90-degree corner (top-left) on your board!

Run your boards through the table saw to take off the other side (effectively creating perfectly parallel sides).

Just the top to go now!

 This is what the rounded-top side looked like before I put it through my thickness planer.

This is after a few passes in the planer.  I wanted to keep as much wood on my board so I took off the absolute minimum for each step.  The thickness of my boards ended up being 1-1/4" rather than the original 1-1/2".

Although these tools aren't necessary they are VERY helpful!  It cuts down on my sanding which I love but it also makes my boards easier to work with and assemble because they're straight and square.

_________________________


You will now be ripping all of your pieces directly down the middle on your table saw EXCEPT for your 4 top pieces.  My boards ended up being 1-1/2" wide after ripping.  

(Now my smaller components are 1-1/4" thick and 1-1/2" wide)

This is what you should have now (except my side stretchers aren't cut to length in this picture yet).

 We'll join the top boards together so the glue can be drying while we work on the rest.  I chose to do biscuit joinery but feel free to use a pocket hole jig or whatever method you like.

I first arranged my boards how I wanted them to look and labeled them A, B, C & D to know what order they go in.  Next, I marked where I was going to place biscuits along the 'seem' of where the boards touched.

If you aren't familiar with a biscuit joiner, it is a really simple tool that plunges into the edge of a board with a small blade that creates a perfect slot to accept a biscuit (small, flat, football-shaped piece of wood).  Biscuits add extra strength to a joint.

 You line up the center of your joiner with the mark on your board and plunge the blade into the wood.  It has a stop so it will only go as far as you set it to.

This joiner has a fence that folds down so it's easier to hold against the board flat and tight.

 Once you have your biscuit holes cut, clean them out so there's no saw dust.  Lay your boards out in order (A, B, C and D) with your clamps ready.


 I'm using my kids paint brush - can you tell they were painting with blue recently!?

 Spread a nice bead of glue along your board edge and get inside the biscuit holes well.  Butter the side of your biscuit that you'll be putting in...

 ...and coat the other side of the biscuit with glue.  You can see I have 2 boards put together already and working on adding the 3rd here.  It's easiest to spread glue when the boards are tipped up so the glue doesn't drip off.


Once all 4 boards are ready tip them down back onto your clamps.

I tighten my clamps so they're just barely snug.  Then I tighten each one going from one end to the other in sequence.  I was taught to not over-tighten and squish all the glue out of the joint, but give them a good turn until it feels right.  Wipe off excess glue with a damp rag and set aside for a few hours to dry.

Mark on the bottom of each leg like this to show how it needs to get cut.

 Just to be sure, you're marking on the widest edge of your leg (you can see the leg on the right is turned the wrong way).

 Set your saw to cut a 7-degree miter.  Cut as little off the end as possible to get your angle.

Next you'll cut the other end of your boards parallel with the ones you just cut...

   ...measure 31" down from one of the corners.

 Line up your blade with the mark and make your cut.

TIP: you can easily transfer a mark from your first leg to make the cuts for your last 3.

 Now we'll work on the lap joints for the top/bottom stretchers and side stretchers.

First cut your top/bottom stretchers to size.  Your bottom stretcher will be 38-1/4" long and your top will be 33".

Mark your 4 side stretchers for the cut out in the center by using the measurements in the diagram.

 TIP: I used masking tape to keep my side stretchers together while I pushed them through my table saw with my miter gauge to create the groove for the top/bottom stretchers to sit into.

 I made the groove slightly narrower than my marked line and test-fitted the rails before taking the final edge off with the blade.

Mark the ends of your top/bottom stretchers and use your table saw+miter gauge to cut out the material just like you did with the side stretchers.

 I did a simple dry fit to ensure the pieces were right before gluing.

Sand all your pieces (including top) with at least 150 grit paper before assembling - I didn't do this because I was impatient - but it always pays off to sand first rather than last!

 You'll need 4 pieces of 1/2" dowel that are about 2-1/2" long and 8 pieces of 1/4" dowel that are about 1-1/2" long.

Butter up the surfaces that will be touching on your lap joints with wood glue and glue a side stretcher onto each end of your top/bottom stretchers.

With a 1/4" drill bit, drill 2 holes over your lap joints (you can decide to go through to the other side but I just made sure I went deep enough to go through both boards).  Use a small brush or Q-tip to glue inside the hole and the sides of your 1/4" dowels; use a mallet to pound dowels into holes.  Once the dowels were in place I used small clamps to keep the joint tight while it dried.

Clamp your legs on your stretchers like so.  Although your legs are on an angle, the stretchers are horizontal and square with the floor.  You want the top stretchers flush with the top of the legs...

...and the bottom stretchers will be approximately 10-3/8" from the bottom of the legs.  Make final adjustments up/down on the legs where the stretchers sit best.

 I used my 3/8" Forstner Bit to drill a hole deep enough for a screw head and a wooden plug.  I made 2 holes over each leg where the side stretchers attached.

Pre-drill holes for 2-1/2" screws and attach screws.

Mark the center of your top stretcher so you know where to have your angled-braces meet.  Simply lay the boards for your braces over the stretchers how you want them and mark where they meet so you know where to cut.  This is the most accurate way to cut angled boards rather than measuring with a measuring tape and trying to transfer marks and angles to your pieces.

I liked how the braces looked being slightly inset from the stretchers so I turned them so the narrowest side of the board was facing towards the ends of the table.

 Adjust your miter so it lines up with the marks you just made; make your cuts.

I glued the ends of the brace-boards and rested them in place while I carefully clamped to keep them from sliding out.  I used my 1/2" drill bit to drill through the end of the brace boards and into the board underneath.  I made sure I was at an angle where the bit wouldn't poke through where it shouldn't.

 Glue inside your hole well and the dowel before pounding it in.

Do the same with the top of the braces.  TIP: flip the 'table' upside down to make this step easier.

Butter plugs and holes for screws well with glue and use a mallet to ensure plugs are seated tight.

Adjust the table top just right over the leg/base and clamp in place.

To attach the top I drilled holes from the top and down to where I could place 2-1/2" screws into my legs and stretchers (7-8 screw total).  Be careful and take your time - a large square and pencil is helpful to mark where your boards underneath are.

 Plug holes.

 Let plugs and dowels dry at least 2 hours before using a flush cutting saw to remove excess.

Do a final sanding of at least 180 grit.  Sand by hand in tight areas.

 I used General Finishes "Espresso" stain and applied it very lightly to the wood and rubbed off quickly.  I followed that up with a wipe-on Polyurethane as a clear coat.




Not too bad for $15 in wood and 2 days work, eh!?
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