I've followed up on the earlier entry I made regarding the DIY table. So this is basically a College Student Series. Right now, it's in a pause point, since I kinda forgot to get an essential part. (no, not the wood.... the L brackets.) Still, I figured I'd do what I could to get the project going.
My initial plan was to do this tomorrow, posting photos in the evening, after my morning classes. However, this afternoon, my plans changed suddenly and drastically. Since rolling with change is a part of what the online woodworking revolution is founded on, even if it teaches traditional methods and skills, I am posting here the project I completed today. (Well, one of them, anyway.)
First off, there's no official design plan for this project. It exists in my head, based off the mentioned dimensions (try saying that five times fast...) from a post on WoodTalkOnline. It got me to a place I've enjoyed browsing, Larsen Lumber, in Brecksville, OH. (No, I'm not affiliated with them, but I firmly believe in spreading credit where credit is due.) While the costs on the plywood were more than I was expecting, I'm very satisfied with my purchase, and the service I received there. The project is not completed, it has gotten to a point where I can share it with you, and you get an idea of where it is going.
Its as simple as it gets in tools and materials. I used only a Craftsman circular saw, equipped with a 40 tooth combination blade from Freud, a corded drill by Chicago Tools from Harbor Freight, a 1/8" drill bit, a folding rule (but feel free to use whatever measure device you wish that will reach from 3 inches to 68 inches), one sheet of 3/4 A/C Plywood, and two 2x4 studs. For marking devices, I used both a pencil and a regular Sharpie, although the Sharpie is not necessary in most steps. (I used it so people could see my marks, and so I could see the spots in the bright sunlight.)
As my shop is outside, I hope the photos translate well. Today was the first warm weather day that I had available when I have not been at work or school. (So the cards fell well today.) Some of the time, my vision was washed out (hence the Sharpie), but there were only two moments when I wished for an indoor shop. I also did not have the lumber yard cut the plywood for me, despite my comments that the retailer where you purchase the materials can do so (and probably should, for the college student without a full array of tools available). So there are some "make do" steps that people with experience will recognize. Please try to remember that this is an instruction on basic, quick furniture. While the project was not done in just five minutes (my actual time today is closer to four hours), there was some delay because I needed to photograph my work, and because I did not have a set plan of what I was doing and what I needed.
I would like to point out that if you are going to do this project, you will need materials. For starters, one sheet of 3/4 Plywood, preferably cabinet grade or better. You will need two 2x4s, preferably "select" grade or better, but I did find two straight studs in the large supply that was available.
(This is most of what I purchased today: only the top sheet of plywood and the first two 2x4s will be used in this project.)
I used sixteen #8 screws, 2" long, but the drilling pattern I used is not as stable as I would wish. I will elaborate in a second. What I did not get, but is definitely needed, are "L" brackets. I plan on using between six and eight of them, but I will describe that in a second post once it has been completed. For those brackets, I would recommend more #8 screws, but this time 3/4" long.
The table measures 32" by 60", and is 32" tall. (This actually needs to be adjusted, which will also be covered in the second post - once I complete it.) I did not use a drop of glue on this project, so it can be disassembled and stored, if needed. (I actually plan on discussing that in the second post.)
Again, as this is a simple build (or intended to be an instruction to make it simple), there are some steps taken that are alternatives to having more tools. If you have a larger tool selection available, use them. To break down the plywood sheet, I laid it good side up on the concrete pad of my porch, which is elevated from the yard. I made three layout marks rather than one solid line.
This shot is from the side, to better illustrate the placement of the plywood so the saw blade can safely cut through the wood.
I used a simple approach to setting the depth of the cut.
Note that the saw is unplugged for this step. I heartily recommend everybody do this as a safety measure. (I accidentally squeezed the trigger of my own saw while repositioning it; fortunately I had not plugged it in.) Here is a close up showing the blade against the plywood.
To complete the depth, I get the wing nut finger tight before lifting the saw, and then tap gently (like you would if you were making a toast at a wedding) on the sole of the saw, to get a couple more millimeters of clearance. Keep in mind, I did not actually measure the depth.
I used one of the 2x4s as a straight edge to guide the saw over this cut. Whatever saw you have, make sure that the saw motor cover clears the 2x4... Mine did not, requiring me to make a second cut. Not a problem, but I did not photograph it. I did, however, take this shot, showing the measures I took to counter balance the sheet of plywood. Here, I am cutting off 16 inches from the width, but due to the way my porch lines up, I ended up with slightly over 30 inches on the concrete to support the face. This will affect the cut. If you have a spare 2x4 to place under the cut, or some foam insulation, I'd recommend that. Either is fairly inexpensive. It will end up as scrap, however, so plan accordingly.
At this point, I moved the plywood to cut the end off to get to a final dimension of 60". I used the off cut as my straightedge, again counterbalancing the weight of the end to be cut off.
Due to the space requirements, I extended this cut further than I was really comfortable with, so I used something to prop the end of the plywood up. Be creative, but don't cut through it.
This piece you cut off will be set aside. The only thing I used it for was the straightedge in the next step: cutting the 16 inch wide piece in half into two pieces 48 inches long. Your plywood should now resemble this:
Next, cut one of the 16 inch wide piece into strips approximately 4 inches wide. I started with cutting the outside strips off, and then ended up with a center that was only about 7 inches wide. This piece is cut into two pieces before being split in half: one 20 inches long and the other 28. In this process, I ended up with a piece that is very hard (and dangerous) to cut with a circular saw. However, I solved this issue with some creative clamping, as shown in the next two photos.
The perpendicular piece was merely used as an additional fulcrum clamp, with my knee and hand providing the application of my body mass. (This cut was freehand, so I could not leave the top board there as my saw would not have made the cut otherwise. I later discovered the sole plate of my saw has a measurement of 4 1/4" from the edge of the blade to the far edge of the plate, which was larger than the half of the board.)
At this point, we are ready to create the apron. I set my table top (the one large panel left) on my bench, but you can do this right on the ground where you cut it originally. Lay the 4 inch strips on edge, as shown below. The image only shows one corner, but each corner will look similar. This is a simple butt joint, with a simple clamping method. I should mention that the ends of the apron sides do not match; the second photo (showing the dimensions the apron sits from the outer edge) should illustrate this better.
Now it's time to cut your legs... for the table, that is. I cut the 2x4 to 31 1/4", but this ended up being too tall. I would recommend that you cut yours to 29 1/4". As this is a straight cut, I free handed it and did not photograph it. I did, however, use the first leg I cut as the template of all the other legs, so they would all match. Just flip the end so the cut end matches the cut side, and the straight "factory" edge matches. (I cut the segments off each 2x4. If I were to re-do this step, I would cut one so that I got three legs from it, and cut the fourth from the last one. In the next post, I should better explain what the remaining portion will be used for.)
At this time, you can put away your saw, and break out your drill. I did not use a countersink bit, but if you have one that will make your project look that much better. I predrilled the holes for the screws, as I have had issues with wood splitting on me before. (Move the assembled apron to an edge where you can get the drill to the lower point.) My drilling pattern is shown, but this is less stable than I had hoped. I would recommend two screws per corner, instead of the 3/1 pattern I used. If you do plan on doing the same pattern I used, add a second screw to the shorter edge.
One piece of advice, remove your "clamps" before you insert the screws. Especially if you drilled through them. It will be easier to do so now rather than later. I made my way around the apron assembly, drilling and screwing one leg at a time. I did not check for square, so the table may rock later. If it does, and you do not have carpet, I would recommend some of those furniture pads that you can get to slide the furniture around if you do not wish to take the time to make the table level. At this point, you should have something that resembles this:
Next post will show how to attach the table top, and ways to make this more stable. I currently have this sitting in my living room, in front of my existing table, and enjoyed a nice dinner on it. It was longer than my "five minute" goal, but it is comprised of a lot of simple, "five minute" components that every person, regardless of skill level, will be able to accomplish by the end of this project.
The post after that will cover finishing, and I will keep this simple for those who just want to accomplish this in a weekend. If you want to use it at this point, or skip finishing, I'd recommend a picnic table cloth (with the plastic on one side and the fuzz on the other), although you will see a lot of threads catching in the edges and unsanded top. Including finishing, I'll try to keep this low-fume and short on time, so those college folks who need a table in a day can eat a meal on it. The approximate cost - as of this step - is under $60, but I'll have an exact amount for materials at the end of the next post. Finishing cost will be calculated at the end of that post.