Scrap Table Take 2




First off this was not my idea, I actually got it from another instructables found here :

Alhough very similar I have changed a few things (which I may, may not have regretted after). Either way, I beleive my instructables is diffrent than the first so with both in hand, you'll be able to build another kick ass table!

The other difference with the other instructables is that the first was built outdoors. I live in a small 5 room appartment downtown Montreal and don't have access to space outside. This whole project was done in the middle of my living room.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Great thing about this instructables is that the materials were free! Mind you, you will have to invest but saving on wood reduced the budget by a few hundreds (I guess/hope).

N.b. To make this easier to read, from now on I'll use "table 1" as reference to the first instructables.

Materials :

- Wood
- Threaded rods
- Washers & nuts
- Glue (I beleive table 1 said 1 gallon of glue so I bought that... WAY TO MUCH, you'll need about 1 litre (1/4 gallon?)).
- Stain
- Varnish
- Wood putty

Tools : (I'm most likely going to forget to list some! I'll mention them as I go along)

- Table saw
- Cicular saw
- Planner
- Sander
- Drill
- Dremel rotary tool

Step 2: Gather the Materials

Obviously the first step was to find wood!

Finding free wood isn't as hard as you may think. First thing I did was to go on kijiji (or craisglist) and search for free wood.

I was very lucky when I found an add from a familly in the subburbs who had just torn down the patio deck and were giving away the wood. I droped by with my mazda and filled my car with as much wood as I could. Lucky for me I had just enough!!

The biggest advantage to this find was the consistency in the wood. all of the planks were the same type of wood and pretty much the same size (2"/6").

Tools I had but found out that I needed to buy new ones as you'll see later.

Step 3: Preparing the Wood

The first thing I did here was to clean up the wood. It had been laying around in that pile for quite some time and there was plenty of dirt, spider webs and so on.

While cleaning I noticed a lot of old rusted nails. Again, take the time to remove them, I had a few reluctant ones which I cut down with my dremel (be carfefull with that since nails can kill power tools and probably hurt you pretty bad in the process).

Once clean, the next step was cutting down every board lenghwise. This makes your planks a more managable size and actually doubles your quantity of wood ! :D

Mistakes I made :

Being uber cheap that I am, I first tried cutting down the planks with my jigsaw... bad idea, burnt the motor and the cut was horrible.

Being a little less cheap, bought a circular saw, thinking this would be best for the size of my living room and would probably make a cleaner cut than the jigsaw. NOT....  the cut was actually worse, see the problem with the circular saw is that while it looks like it's going straight, it can go off in the wrong direction, once that happens, forget about bringing it back on course! My boards turned out worse than with the jigsaw....

Now at that point I was getting desperate.... all this wood and no way to cut it

Then I decided to get over my cheap ways and buy a bench saw. I got the cheapest one available which cost me about 120$ can. But that turned out to be worth it's weight in gold! I cut the whole lot in less than 1 hour when 1 cut with the jigsaw or circular took longer than that!!

N.b. This is is good spot to give you a bit of advice.... As I mentionned earlier, I live downtown and I have neighbors. A bench saw makes A LOT of noise... and it's not fun nois like a blues guitar we're talking about here...

So warn your neighbors that you'll be making noise. Some of my neighbors are noisy themselves so they know they can't bitch to much, others just didn't care. Lucky for me I had no noise complaint. I did do all of the noisy work around mid-day so that I would maximize the number of people that were at work.

Step 4: Putting It Togheter

Ok, now you're starting to understand that I'm quite cheap so buying 100$ clamps was pretty much out of the question.

The beauty of this project is that you don't need clamps!!

You'll need to do a lot of measuring at this point. I'll refer you to the first picture with all the planks laying down face down. This part was fun because it's kind of like playing tetris, you chose which pieces fit best next to which other and try to make it look as much as a rectangle as possible.

N.B. !!!!! crucial step here compared to "table 1"

As you see in the picture below, the way I setup the legs is a bit different than table 1. While they included the legs in the table, I decided to keep two 2/6 boards of the same lenght intact and put them appart at an equal distance. I planned on attaching the legs to those beams.

Once the you're satisfied with the shape draw a line at each end where the table would end. Obviously try to make the lenght between the end of the support beams and the edge of the table about the same (I think I have 8 or 12 inches on each side).

Once everything fits togheter and your shape is done, find the center of the table and mark it. Basically what we're going to do is pass rods throughout the table in 3 different places. from the center hole, place 2 other marks at an equal distance from the center on each side.

I was lucky enough to have a 9 foot board in the original pile, the two halves from this board are going to make up the sides of the table, this will insure a seamless sidewall on each side.

Back to the holes. Once your 3 holes have been pierced from the first piece use it to drill the hole in the next set of boards. Once the new set has been drilled you can pass the threaded rods through the first piece.

Make sure to put a washer and nut on one end of the threaded rod so that it stays in place ;) I cut carved a circle in the side panels the size of the washer so that once done the bold doesn't stick out (see pictures in step 6.)

This is kind of like playing lego... just drill and assemble... After a while your table will take shape.

Back to what I said at the begining regarding clamps :

The beauty of this concept is that the rods and nuts will work as clamps for you!!

Once the table is put togheter, take it appart again! yes take it appart!

The reason why I say this is that the next step is to glue the boards togheter. start the process again but this time put glue on each piece before sliding it down the rods. You can do this by putting glue in a small container and using a paint brush, a little goes a long way here... don't abuse glue here, it will do it's job.

once you've got your glued table back togheter it's time to take out a wrench or ratchet (oh god I wish I had a ratchet for this step...)

simply thighten the bolts as hard as you can to squeeze all the boards togheter. Let it dry.

Step 5: Installing the Legs

Well the legs were made from new wood... I felt bad about using new wood for this step but had few choices. Once the table was glued and dried I realised that I missed a step from table 1 and did not build the legs in the table itself so I had to improvise (and unfortunately had no more patio wood).

So I got a few planks of cedar, use a bit of trigonometry (yes kids, it is usefull in real life!) and drew some shapes to be cut.  the idea was simple, 2 planks per leg. Each plank bolted on each side of the support beams. The resulting 4 planks (2 per leg) on each side of the table will be linked togheter by another threaded rod with washers and nuts.

The process is fairly simple but takes time. I had one of my friends come over to help me on this part.

Step 6: Finishing the Top

Thank god the table was stable when we turned it around!! Don't wanna be the guy who has to move this down the 3 flights of stairs when I move out though because this table weights a ton!!

Ok, on this step it's basically cleanup. With the circular saw cut down the unven pieces at the ends of the table. Turns out the blade wasn't deep enough to cut though some of the beams so we finished it by hand.

The other thing to do here is to cut down the rods to size with a dremel tool. Use the dremel to file down the sharp edges of the rod as well.

Step 7: Planning & Sanding

With a portable planner, grind down as much as you can and try to make the surface as smooth as possible, this creates a mess. You can reduce the mess by using my "Dexter style project tent" as described in the following instrucables :

Once satisfied with the surface, use wood filler to patch every hole or empty space you can find. Let it dry and sand it down.

Once you're satisfied with your surface it's time to sand it!

N.b. Always wear a mask and glasses when working with power tools...

I sanded many times, starting with 20 grit then 60, 80 and 400. The final product is a smooooth table surface. it just takes a LONG time to get there.

Step 8: Stain & Varnish

Staining is an art ( I learned that myself... had to sand down my surface again after I messed up the first time I stained)

The best way I found is fairly simple (mind you, please google this, there's plenty of tutorials on staining wood). Baiscally take a brush in your right hand (if righty) and a clean rag (which will be thrown away after) in your left hand.

Apply stain with a brush, after when ready to dip your brush again, use your rag to wipe down the stained wood following the grain of the wood. This makes for a great finish!

If you're not satisfied with the color, apply a second coat to make it darker ( I used 2 coats on mine).

Once done it's time to varnish. Varnishing is also fairly simple. just brush in on with a clean brush but don't wipe... do the whole surface and let dry. Once dry sand it down with a very fine grit sandpaper (I used 600 grit). Wash the surface of dust and apply another coat.

I decided to go with a high gloss finish so I applied quite a few coats of varnish (5 in total). sand down between every coat, the final coat can be brushed down with 0000 grade steel wool.

Voilà, une belle table neuve!



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    50 Discussions


    2 years ago

    That's a very nice looking table! I might make something like that for my brother one of these days (if he and his girl don't already have some table stuffed somewhere). About your circular saw not making straight cuts, have you thought about making a guide rail? can be made pretty inexpensive. I've made one for my saw for my own reclaimed pallet table from 2 pieces of plywood and it has worked wonders for me. A thick one for the spine/structural support to rest the saw against, and a thinner one to rest the saw (and spine) on that you align with the cut you want to make.


    4 years ago

    Very nice. Starting a table project like this soon. But without the stain.

    Slice Of Life

    5 years ago

    Can you tell me what specific stain you used on the wood?!!!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    That's just stunning! Really beautiful! :)
    J'envie ton savoir des outils pour le bois, une matière si magnifique!
    Voilà, c'es tout. :)


    7 years ago on Step 3

    You can also get a speed square to use w/ a skilsaw for straight cuts.


    8 years ago on Step 8

    Lovely table! I find the best way of applying stain for a blotch-free finish is to apply it with a clean cotton cloth (an old t-shirt/rag is ideal), bunched up into a pad. Putting only a small amount of stain on the cloth at a time, 'buff' it into the wood in line with the grain. The cotton absorbs some of the stain, releasing it evenly on to the surface. It works well.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    In South Africa we have a Gel Stain, like the name says, it's a gel and not a runny liquid. No mistakes if you apply it with a sponge, but be sure to have allot of sponges as the gel stain eats up the sponge!

    Thanks for the advice on using normal stain!


    7 years ago on Step 3

    I recently bought a cheap hand held metal detector wand (the kind security guards use to check for weapons etc.) from a Chinese web site. It is wonderful for detecting almost invisible screws, nails, staples etc. in reclaimed pieces of wood. Get one; your tools will thank you for it!


    8 years ago on Step 8

    The 100 grit doesnt seem high enough to get a smooth finish (but the photos prove otherwise). Is that a function of the wood you used? I'm finishing a similar one, but have found I need 150 to get down to the point that the table wont "catch" on books, papers, beer bottles, etc...

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    You're right... that's an error in what I wrote (I'll correct it) I actually used 400 grit and then 600 grit for the varnish


    8 years ago on Step 8

    Thanks for posting this. It is truely an inspiration.


    8 years ago on Step 7

    A helpful technique when you are trying to plane and sand a surface flat: take a pencil and draw a wavy line back and forth across the whole surface - a long "squiggle" down the table. This will allow you to see the low spots as you plane and sand (the pencil marks will be left behind in the "low" spots). It's also very helpful when doing your rough shaping to go at 45 degrees across the planks, then alternate to the opposite side of the table and go the along the opposite 45 degrees - so you go 45 degrees one way, then 45 degrees the opposite way from the other side of the table. Doing this will help make sure you're working the table top evenly. Also, try to work evenly across the whole top at the same time - don't focus on one area. When you get the table top flat, start sanding with the grain. Use aluminum oxide papers for all your major smoothing, and finish with Garnet paper. Garnet paper is the best for final smoothing.

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Actually the best way to stain soft wood is to first seal the wood with clear varnish and then stain it. This solves the problem with blotching.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    That's an awesome technique... I wish I had known it prior to staining and varnishing my table! Thank you for sharing