Build It: Simple Side Table
This Old House general contractor Tom Silva shows how to construct a simple yet beautiful side table
- Cut the fir table parts to length with a miter saw.
- Use a table saw to rip off the edges of the 5/4-by-6-inch fir decking, creating four square-edge boards.
- Apply carpenter’s glue to the edges of the boards, then evenly spread the glue with a narrow stick.
- Use two bar clamps to clamp together the four boards to form the tabletop.
- Wipe off the excess glue with a damp cloth. Allow the glue to cure for 2 to 3 hours.
- 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.
- 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.
- Unlock the toggle clamp and rotate the leg 90 degrees. Lock down the clamp and cut a second taper into the leg.
- Repeat the previous two steps to cut two tapers into each of the remaining three 2x2 table legs.
- Sand smooth all four sides of each table leg with a random-orbit sander fitted with 120-grit abrasive.
- 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.
- Remove the bar clamps from the tabletop. Use the random-orbit sander to sand both sides of the tabletop.
- Use the router with 1/8-inch-radius rounding-over bit to rout around the top of the tabletop.
- Use a cordless drill and pocket-hole jig to drill two screw-pocket holes into each end of all four aprons.
- 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.
- 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.
- Use a 5/8-inch screw to fasten a steel double washer to each recess.
- Set the tabletop upside down on a padded workbench, then place the bottom portion of the table on top with legs sticking straight up.
- Center the table legs on the top, then drive 5/8-inch screws through the double washers and into the underside of the tabletop.
- Hammer a furniture glide onto the bottom end of each table leg.
- Finish the table as desired with primer and paint, wood stain, or clear polyurethane varnish.