Make a Table in an Afternoon

Reader Contribution by Troy Griepentrog
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You can build a table quickly and easily. The table in the photo is small, of course, but it could be used for nightstand, a lamp table or (in this case) a table to hold a toy keyboard for my 3-year-old granddaughter. I built this table in less than a day, and that includes time to make a special jig (or sled) for my table saw so that I could taper the legs. I used 1-inch-thick pine boards for the entire table.

   This table is about 30 inches wide, 11 inches deep and 18 inches tall.

How to Make a Table in Eight Steps

1. Determine how tall you want the table to be and cut four legs. If you decide to taper the legs, cut the tapers before cutting the legs the right length.

2. Clamp all the legs together and cut them to length.

3. Cut four boards for the apron (the part that holds the top to the legs). The width isn’t too important, but about 2 inches minimum for strength and enough material to work with.

4. Join the legs to the apron boards using pocket screws. I use the simplest, cheapest Kreg pocket screw kit for this. (I balked at paying $20 for this several years ago, but it’s a great investment.)

  Use pocket screws for quick, strong joints between pieces of wood.

5. Cut the top of the table.

6. When you build a table this small, you don’t need to use fancy methods to attach the top. Just drill through the apron boards and use screws. (On larger tables, the expansion and contraction of the wood calls for special measures.) I drilled larger holes to hide the screw heads; this is called countersinking the screws.

  Attach the top of the table to the apron with screws placed about every 8 inches.

7. For an added touch, I used a router to round the edges of the table and legs. You could bevel the edges with a rasp instead.

8. Sand the table. Paint, stain, varnish or oil it if you’d like.

For more complete details on how to make a table, read Build Your Own Tables.