There comes a time in a man's life when buying mass produced stuff just isn't enough any more. We want to create something out of thin air, besides CO2. But where to start, where to start. For all you starting makers this is an excellent project to get your two left hands turned into a pair of right hands (or vice versa if you're a leftie)! And get some small nicks, burns and other wounds along the way (yes, it is almost inevitable). MANHANDS!
This instructable is about creating a table that has that manly industrial look, that is pure usability and plain awesomeness. With that in mind, you can focus more energy towards getting a grasp of using the tools and less on making it pretty. The project is quite straightforward, but I hope it serves as inspiration towards your own projects and plans.
I recently moved house and was in need of a desk, which would accommodate my ton of stuff that I always have going on. It has been quite a while since I touched most of the tools we'll be using, but that's ok. I was not looking to create a perfect symmetric table, I was looking for character. Nicks, bumps and small irregular stuff add just that.
Therefore I spent as little time as possible on cleaning up welds, grinding straight (where it is not needed) and painting as possible. So don't be scared to take up the welder and 'bake stuff'. However don't be a fool and ask help if you're a first time user. This does not mean let someone else do it, but let someone else teach you. It will greatly add to your skill-set and will definitely come in handy in later projects. FEEL THE BEARD GROW!
**BEWARE: I'm a Dutchy, all measurements in meters(m), centimeters(cm) or millimeters(mm)!**
Step 1: Getting Your Tools and Materials
While you may not own every piece of equipment, be sure to check with friends/family to borrow stuff. It would be a waste to have to buy every single tool I list here. Also you might have different options available, if so, do use them!
The one thing that you should absolutely buy is personal protection. And with that I don't mean a bodyguard. I'm talking ears, eyes and hands! You want to keep on making stuff, right?
- Angle grinder with both cutting discs and abrasive discs. YEAH! MANGRINDER!
- Welder (in my case a stickwelder) YEAH! MANWELDER!
- Jig saw YEAH! MANJIGSAW!
- Power drill with 2, 5, 8 and 10mm drills. YEAH! MAN POWER DRILL!
- Hammer YEAH MANHAMMER!
- Glue clamp YEAH! MAN GL...no..I'm going to stop this. Just put man in front of all the manly stuff
- Tools for marking (pen and painters tape work miracles)
- Steel angle 30x30x3 (mm), total 4,6 meters
Measurements 700 mm (2x), 1600 mm (2x).
- Steel angle 40x40x4 (mm), total 4,2 meters
Measurements 700mm (6x)
- Steel plate 15x15x4 (mm), 6 pieces
- MDF board 160x70 cm
- Reclaimed wood for the inlay, I used Meranti. Keep in mind that the thickness of the MDF + inlay = 27 mm MAX (when using 3mm steel). Otherwise the inlay will be too high and you'll get an edge above the tabletop.
- 18xM8 Nuts and bolts
- Bunch of nails
If you order your steel angles at a shop that can cut it (at 45 degree angles) for you, use that option. It adds greatly to the ease of construction, plus you get the correct angles in the places where it matters. Use regular steel. I would recommend against using stainless steel, for two reasons. One, you're using it inside and it will be painted other. Two, it's harder to weld and for paint to stick to it, because it has a small layer of corrosion covering it. (and three, it's cheaper).
Step 2: The Tabletop Frame
Tools you will be using in this step
- Grinder with both discs
First layout the 4 pieces 30x30 in a rectangle. If your steel is not cut at angles, now is the time to do so. Take your time measuring out the angles, use a protractor. Always measure twice and cut once. If cut at the wrong angles, you might end up having to shorten the whole thing, to make up for your mistake. You can only fix so much with the welder. After cutting the angles, do a test fit. Does it fit? Yes? No obvious gaps? No. Awesome! A little trick I use when using a stick welder is to grind a small angled edge of the materials to be welded. In doing that you get a 'path' you can drag your welding rod on.
Whip out the welder and be sure to tack-weld it first. That way you can correct little mistakes before the whole thing is weld solid.
Now as stated before, we're not looking for picture perfect welds, just ones that can take a beating. Change your grinder to an abrasive disc and clean up your welds, fill up big gaps with the welder and grind flat once again. Don't mind the grinding circles. Character, remember?
**if by any chance you have to clean up your stuff, be sure to mark it! That way you can never get confused later on. Which I of course found out the hard way.**
Step 3: Making the Legs
Tools you will be using in this step
- Grinder with both discs
- Glue clamps
First thing is to cut the corner braces. Just stick a piece of painters tape diagonally from corner to corner. You'll end up with 45 degree angles.
A risk of welding flat objects is it curling up when you're completely welding on one side. First you need to tack the corner braces on and then flip it and weld the other side. That way you make sure the brace is flat and will sit flush against the tabletop frame. I used glue clamps to keep it from curling, but you will need to let your welds cool before removing the clamps. By tacking and flipping you can work quicker. Be sure to add the corner braces before welding the legs. I learnt that the hard way, but having to suspend the legs mid-air and then welding the bracing on. This is why you see bolts in the (blurry) picture I took. Bit of a detour, but it worked.
After welding all the corners grind and clean up.
Originally I planned on adding the corner braces and adding cross braces to that. However the desk turned out to be sturdy enough not to need the cross braces. They can be added for ' pretty' if wanted. You will not find them in this instructable, as I'm not looking for pretty and other girly stuff..MANTABLE! Also..since I already ordered the stuff. Spare Steel! SWEEET! For a future project that hasn't sprung to mind yet!
Step 4: Drilling the Bolt-holes
Tools used in this step
- Drills suited for steel size 2,5,8, 10
- Center punch
In this step it's time to drill your bolt-holes. I thought that three bolts was a nice amount per side. This is based on absolutely nothing, expect what I thought would look pretty. My corners measures 15.5 cm. First bolt goes dead center in the corner profile. For added strength purposes. The rest I spaced out + 5CM.
Center punch first, otherwise your drill can slip / walk. Two time savers: 1. Drill all holes before moving on to the next drill size. This saves time in changing drill bit. 2. When the 2mm holes is drilled, put the tabletop frame upside down on your workbench (of floor) and line up the legs flush with the top. Insert drill in each hole and give a little whirl. This way you don't have to centerpunch the legs and they're a matched fit to a corner.
Move on to 5mm, repeat, move on to 8mm repeat.
As a finish span your 10mm bit and give each hole a quick spin. This will remove any burrs left.
Step 5: Frame Assembly
Assemble the frame. This is quite straightforward. Legs + Top + Bolts. First bolts go in with the table upside down. Flip and do the rest of the bolts. Sit on it for testing purposes (and a proud feeling that it withstands your weight).
Step 6: Paint!
Get the most manly paint you can find. It can be any color, as long as it is black.
Step 7: Finishing the Top
- (electric) saw
I had my MDF board cut to size at the local DIY shop. I knew that some small cuts had to be made to accommodate the bolts. So just measure how much the bolts protrude, and half a cm of wiggle room and saw. Doesn't have to be perfect. Since it will be covered with the wood top.
Last step is to drop in your selected wooden top. I used reclaimed Meranti. Just lay it down, mark off any protruding stuff and cut.
This has probably been used for a ceiling or something, because there was a bunch of nailing holes in it already. Only thing I could do was use them and nail it down. Now, this is not the best way if the table ever needs to be transported, but it sure looked darn cool...
Step 8: Final Step: Bask in Glory
No words needed..*blinks away a manly tear*