A friend recently came to me and said, “Help, we need more counter space and storage in our kitchen” (I’m paraphrasing, as he is far more eloquent). As you probably know, I love any chance to build and use my miter saw.
The first step is drawing out plans and elevations. To get a sense of materials, assembly and all of our options. Since I’m a cheap-o and cost is an important factor in the design, I like to generate my materials list as I go and also divided into sections. This way I can easily say “If I want and extra shelf, it’ll cost me an extra $30” or “designing the table top this way is $10, but this other cooler way is only $5 more”. I take this list when I go to the hardware store and helps me effectively get all the lumber. This list also helps me generate a cut list. I cut list is as it sounds, a list of all the pieces of wood I need to make the table. If you follow your (accurate) cut list, you can cut the pieces and then assemble.
How much wood do you think it takes to make a table? Answer: a lot of wood. See above. It’s good to get an extra piece of each size of wood because you never know what issues might come up. These were each only a dollar or two, and having the extra pieces is really helpful and gives you more options while you’re building.
Once materials were purchased, I began by assembling the butcher-block style table top using nails and glue and then clamping it together. Since I knew this would be a slow process with drying time, I started with this first and then took time between gluing to work on measuring and cutting the other pieces.
Eventually, after lots of measuring, cutting, and screwing down wood, I got to take stock of all the pieces above. Since I knew I’d be transporting this in my car, I had to take that into account while planing my dimensions and assembly. I figured I could lay these elements flat in my car and then assemble them on-site at my friends house, but I wanted to make it so I had to do the least amount of work at his house.
The next step is sanding and staining all the elements. Above is the base of the table top. You can see how dark the stain is against the raw wood. While staining I find it best to lay it on thick, wait a few minutes and then wipe away to desired results. It’s also best to do this not in direct sunlight. You don’t want the stain to dry while you’re waiting for it to seep into the wood, since it’s staining and not painting the wood. Once it’s full stained and wiped down, then it’s good to put it in the sun to speed up drying time.
Look at what a difference the dark stain makes. It became so elegant looking. After more sanding, it was time for the clear coat to protect against moisture (which will keep the table from rotting if it gets wet). I used a luster finish of a clear coat polyurethane. I had used this on other projects and it makes the wood look so finished and smooth.
Doesn’t it look so nice? I did two coats of the polyurethane to really protect it. It also helps soften the rough spots and fill in gaps. I did this with the two shelves, 4 legs and base frame of the table top.
Now back to the table top itself. I let the butcher block style top stay clamped for the week while I waited for the next weekend to finish the project. Once the top felt solid, it was time for heavy duty sanding. The more sanding the better, as it will smooth and even out the wood. Mine wasn’t perfectly level, but I think that’s part of it’s charm. It’s also going in the kitchen of an apartment for three guys so the rougher and more manlier, the better.
The next step is to stain! Like a typical butcher block, they wanted to go with a lighter stain than the rest of the table to make it stand out. Once it was stained and sanded again I did the same two coats of the luster polyurethane and let it dry. Install time!! I drove the elements to my friends house for assembly. It was tricky doing it in their house, but with their help we made it work. I find a good trick is to only screw it in loosely until you feel everything’s at a 90 degree angle and at the right height. Then go back and add more screws and tighten the original screws. It’s very hard making things level and perfect, so take your time with this.
Isn’t it pretty? I’m really happy with how it came out.
Here it is “dressed” as we say in show business.
If you are interested in a table like this, or you want to commission me for a custom original piece, contact me! I love this type of project and look forward to more. I’m actually working on my blog shop, where you can place orders and even purchase art you’ve seen made here on the blog 🙂 I can’t wait to share it with you!