Build It: Simple Side Table
This Old House general contractor Tom Silva shows how to construct a simple yet beautiful side table
1. Cut the fir table parts to length with a miter saw.
2. Use a table saw to rip off the edges of the 5/4-by-6-inch fir decking, creating four square-edge boards.
3. Apply carpenter’s glue to the edges of the boards, then evenly spread the glue with a narrow stick.
4. Use two bar clamps to clamp together the four boards to form the tabletop.
5. Wipe off the excess glue with a damp cloth. Allow the glue to cure for 2 to 3 hours.
6. Make a tapering jig out of ¾-inch plywood and a 1x4. Cut a notched taper into the 1x4 to permit removing ½ inch from the 2x2 legs. Adjust the taper to start 8 inches down from the top of the legs. Screw a toggle clamp to the top of the jig.
7. Set the 2x2 into the jig and lock it down with the toggle clamp. Turn on the table saw and slide the jig past the blade to cut a taper into the 2x2 table leg.
8. Unlock the toggle clamp and rotate the leg 90 degrees. Lock down the clamp and cut a second taper into the leg.
9. Repeat the previous two steps to cut two tapers into each of the remaining three 2x2 table legs.
10. Sand smooth all four sides of each table leg with a random-orbit sander fitted with 120-grit abrasive.
11. Next, use a router equipped with a 1/8-inch-radius rounding-over bit to ease the sharp corner where the two tapered leg surfaces meet. Repeat for each leg.
12. Remove the bar clamps from the tabletop. Use the random-orbit sander to sand both sides of the tabletop.
13. Use the router with 1/8-inch-radius rounding-over bit to rout around the top of the tabletop.
14. Use a cordless drill and pocket-hole jig to drill two screw-pocket holes into each end of all four aprons.
15. Slip a ¼-inch-thick spacer block beneath each end of the apron to create a reveal along the leg. Then fasten the apron to the table legs with 1½-inch pocket screws. Repeat to attach the remaining three aprons.
16. Drill four 1/8-inch-deep recesses into the top edges of the aprons with a ¾-inch spade bit. Position the recesses close to each table leg.
17. Use a 5/8-inch screw to fasten a steel double washer to each recess.
18. Set the tabletop upside down on a padded workbench, then place the bottom portion of the table on top with legs sticking straight up.
19. Center the table legs on the top, then drive 5/8-inch screws through the double washers and into the underside of the tabletop.
20. Hammer a furniture glide onto the bottom end of each table leg.
21. Finish the table as desired with primer and paint, wood stain, or clear polyurethane varnish.