Making your own table is easy and fun to do. With a good design and clear instructions you can make yourself a stylish, stable table, for example a dining table, desk, conference table, garden table or picnic table.
Make your own table
Above all, it’s simply cool to make your own table. Further, it’s not very complicated to make a table. Certainly if you like a contemporary style, you can get a long way with clear diagrams and detailed instructions.
− you can make a very nice table, for relatively little money, from good, honest materials
− you can easily customize it
− you have the final finish and appearance completely in your own hands
Or perhaps you simply enjoy making your own furniture and the satisfaction that comes from building something yourself.
More and more people, especially with small children, choose for natural paint, oil or wax. You can now decide that for yourself.
What makes a good table?
Firstly, a table must be stable. You don’t want a table that moves too much whilst you are eating or working at it. A solid construction is therefore important.
Other important requirements: a table should look nice and match your interior. You can say that that is subjective, but almost everyone agrees on a clean design and good, attractive materials. Taste itself is of course debatable.
Materials, what are the possibilities?
A table is actually the easiest piece of furniture to make. The tabletop can be made from MDF if you want to paint it, or from other sheet material, such as:
− Birch plywood, with its attractive light-coloured grain. Ideal to finish with varnish, oil or soap.
− Okoume, beautiful colour (reddish / auburn) and grain and suitable for outdoor use. Also ideal for a transparent varnish or lacquer.
− Meranti or similar hardwood, not quite as beautiful but strong and inexpensive.
− Pine plywood, basically a sheet material for out-of-sight structural use in construction, but the better – and slightly more expensive – types are also suitable for building a table. Especially because they have a lovely light grain pattern.
− MDF, a board material made from compressed fine wood fibres with a smooth surface. It does not split or warp like solid wood and is ideal for painting. Great for flat surfaces, but less suitable for construction.
Good material is readily available, and if you go to a real wood merchant there is an ever wider range of beautiful wood, such as oak, cherry and maple. And usually planed and cut to size.
For table legs you can use beams or clever constructions of board material in combination with latticework to add stiffness to the framework. We usually use a construction of board material because it lets you achieve a slimline design with simple means.
Good design is everything
As mentioned already, it does not have to be complicated. But the simplicity of a table’s shape comes down to the design. Is the form well balanced? Are the dimensions in proportion? Are the form of the connections in keeping with the total picture? And does the design add to the strength? These are questions that you must be able to answer “yes” to before you start to build.
It’s a shame to throw money, good materials and time at a project, without first taking account of these aspects.
Before you start anything, it’s a good idea to read through our furniture makers tips. The various tips are very handy when you decide to begin work. For those who purchase a DIY design manual from us, relevant tips are included in the step-by-step plan.
When you are satisfied with the design, you are then ready for the next step: an inventory of what you will need. What will you require in terms of tools and materials for joints (screws, dowels, glue, etc.) and finishing (sandpaper, paint, varnish, oil, soap, wax, brushes, rollers, etc.).
Cutting wood down to size
And of course the wood for the tabletop and framework. When you go to purchase the wood you’ll need a cutting list detailing sizes and quantities of the component parts. Sometimes it’s useful to make a cutting plan or diagram, in which you indicate the most efficient (cheapest!) way to saw the parts out of sheets or planks. You therefore have some check over the quoted cost from your wood supplier. All of our blueprints include a cutting list and, where necessary, a cutting plan. There is a computer program that allows you to make your own cutting plan. For a simple table, a cutting plan is probably not necessary.
Preparation of materials
When you have all your materials ready, you can prepare the component parts. Lay out all the parts and mark with a pencil where joints and connections need to be made (holes, notches, etc.). Check and double-check this before you actually drill holes, saw cut-outs, etc.
Once you have done this, you can do a “dry-run” and try fitting everything together. You’ll soon see if everything is in order.
Once all parts are prepared and “cleaned up” (sanded, chamfered), there are two ways to proceed with the following step. You can either first apply your chosen finish (paint, varnish, oil, wax, soap, stain, etc.) to all the parts, or you first put everything together and then apply the finish.
If you are going to spray your chosen finish then it is best to do the latter. Take care in this case that you reach all areas. If not spraying, it is generally easier to first apply finish to all the individual parts before assembly. Be careful not to apply any finish to surfaces that will be glued. Mark these with a pencil and/or mask the area with masking tape.
If all is well and all parts fit neatly together, you can proceed to join everything. Tighten everything up, allow the glue time to dry and then enjoy your very own self-made table!
Our DIY table design plans generally follow the above process, and then you get:
• a professional design (that you can of course alter, see what our customers made)
• help with choice of materials
• list of materials
• cutting list
• cutting plan (where necessary)
• detailed drawings for preparation of materials
• detailed explanation of various jointing methods (e.g. screws, dowels)
• some explanation about finishing
• step-by-step instructions with detailed diagrams and drawings
• appropriate tips and tricks where necessary
We are currently giving away two instruction manuals for free: classic picnic table ‘Nevada‘, and side table / bedside cabinet ‘Pilar’