Tips for Making Wood Tables

As woodworking projects go, making wood tables can be daunting. After all, this project is going to be right out in the middle of the room where every one can see! A wood coffee table is a great way to build your woodworking expertise: The project is small enough to be manageable, yet you'll get an attractive and practical result.

The tile top is a simple introduction to tile work and creates a very eye-catching woodworking project.

Starting Your Woodworking Project: Materials
Although it can be expensive, oak plywood will give you a furniture-grade result that readily accepts paint or stain. As a cheaper alternative, birch veneer plywood also gives a nice finished product at a reduced cost. You'll need the following supplies:

  • (1) ¾" x 4' x 8' sheet of plywood

  • (2) 1" x 2" x 8' oak board

  • (2) 1" x 4" x 8' oak board

  • (1) 7/8" x 7/8" x 8' oak corner molding

  • #6 x 1-1/2" wood screws

  • 3d and 6d finishing nails

  • Wood finishing materials

  • Ceramic floor tile to cover a 44" x 19" area

  • Tile adhesive

  • Grout and grout sealer

Cutting The Wood
First, cut the plywood. For best results, use a table saw or have the wood cut at a home center or hardware store. If you're using a handheld circular saw, invest in a quality circular saw guide. For furniture woodworking, it's crucial to get precise cuts for the best result. Here are the plywood cuts:

  • Top Panel - 43-1/2" x 18-3/4"
  • Base Panel - 35" x 14-1/2"
  • Side Panels (2) - 16" x 15"

Other cuts:

  • Stinger (sits under the top panel for added support) - 1" x 2" x 35" oak board
  • Base Edges (2) - 1" x 2" x 35" oak board
  • Corner Trim (4) - 7/8" x 7/8" x 15" oak corner molding

Cut to fit:
The End and Side Skirts that wrap around the Top Panel will need to be measured and cut individually, per the instructions.

Building The Table

  • Fasten the Base Edges to the long sides of the Base Panel with glue and 6d finishing nails. Be sure to position the top edges of the Base Edges and the top surface of the Base Panel so that they are flush.

  • Place the Base Panel face up on some scrap ¾" plywood spacers.

  • Fasten one of the Side Panels to the Base Panel with 1-1/2" wood screws. Repeat with the other Side Panel.

  • Position the Stringer so that it is centered between the Side Panels and flush with the top edges of the Panels. Attach the stringer with 1-1/2" wood screws.

  • Position the Top Panel on the Side Panels so that it overhangs the ends and sides equally. Attach the Top Panel to the Side Panels and Stringer with 1-1/2" wood screws.

  • Carefully measure and cut the End and Side Skirts, using the 1" x 4" oak board. Miter the ends of these pieces with a miter box and saw.

  • Position the Skirt pieces to create a slight lip above the surface of the Top Panel. Use a tile sample to gauge the lip height-you want the lip just a bit higher than the surface of the tile.

  • Attach the Skirt End and Side pieces using 6d finishing nails.

  • Attach the Corner Trim over the vertical edges of the Side Panels with 3d finishing nails.

  • Finish the table with your choice of finish and allow it to thoroughly dry.

  • Mask off the top edges of the Skirt pieces with tape to protect the finish while you tile.

  • Apply a layer of tile adhesive to the entire surface of the Top Panel, following the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Set the tiles into the adhesive, making sure to evenly space the tiles and to align them with the edge of the table. Allow the adhesive to dry overnight.

  • Use a rubber grout float to apply grout between the tiles, following the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Wipe excess grout and grout film from the tiles using a damp sponge.

  • After grout has dried for one week, apply grout sealer following manufacturer's directions.

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