I Assemble a Table

The New, New Project Part 4

Now That I had a suitable design, it was time to go to town building the tables. I reworked my original design to allow the tables to be smaller and more moveable but his meant I would need more wood and legs.

The issue now was that since I had side pieces cut from plywood and I only needed a few pieces, cutting up a large sheet of plywood would be wasteful–and expensive! So I opted, instead to use a few pieces of 1″ x 4″ dimensional lumber (I will rant more on that later).

Table Assembly

To start assembling a table I lay two legs down with the top end piece across them. Even though the photos show me using the floor, I prefer to use something higher, like a work bench or even another finished table. This saves all the bending over and subsequent head-rushes when standing up.


Next I try to square up the side piece and legs as best as possible, I use both an inside and outside square for this (plus that lobsterclaw that keeps showing up in my photos).

Once I have it more-or-less where I want it, then I drill a 7/64″ pilot hole then drive in a #8 1-1/4″ wood screw. Being a Canadian, I always buy Roberston-head screws (the square ones that just work). I drive the screw in so that the head is just below the surface. This works since I’m using softwood but if you were using hardwood, you’d need to actually drill a countersink when drilling the pilot hole.


Recommended Tools

I have an old drill that I’ve had for many years (it outlasted my marriage!)  and I also have a cordless screw driver. Using these tools in tandem makes the job go quickly. In addition I have a tri-square and a plastic square for lining things up; plus bar clamps (owned by The Love Of My Life) who’s usefulness I will demonstrate later.


Power tools, approved by Dave.

Once the side piece has been secured, I mark out a line 6″ from the bottom of the legs for the bottom side piece. This allows support while being high enough up not to get kicked. Once the bottom support has been secured, I set the end piece aside and repeat the process for the other end piece.


The two end pieces. The right, bottom support piece is dimensional lumber.


Dimensional Lumber Sidebar Rant (skip if you don’t care)


The wood is at full warp, captain!

You can see from the above photo, the noticeable size difference in the pieces I had cut from plywood and the dimensional lumber. My custom cut pieces are 4″ wide by 11/16” thick (nominally 3/4″). The dimensional lumber is nominally 1” x 4” but is actually 11/16” x 3 5/16”. So you aren’t close to its advertised size. Plus it is near impossible to find straight pieces. They are warped in all directions. So while my custom cut pieces are more expensive, they are more predictable. Some recommend MDF (particle board) but I find that it is brittle and can crumble. Anyway, back to the text.


Assembling The Frame

Time to put it all together. I take one of the end pieces and clamp it to one of the long, side pieces. When I designed the tables I sized the end pieces so that, combined with the side pieces the width would be 24″. This meant that I designed the end pieces to be 22-5/8″ long to compensate for the thickness of the side pieces.

What’s that? I’m a genius? Oh you’re only saying that because it’s true!

Anyway, this is where the bar clamps, supplied by The Love Of My Life come in really handy. I clamp a side piece to one end piece, then clamp the other end piece to the other end of the side piece. Did you follow that? Well here’s a photo, maybe that will help.


The bar clamps in action. Handy, huh?

Unless, you’ve got an assisstant who can hold things in place, these things are great! I’ve asked Dave to help but he insists that his role is supervisory. As for Tolkien? Pul-lease. He’s the president and CEO, not a worker.

Once again I try to square up the ends as best as possible. Then I can drill and drive a screw for the top left side, remove the left clamp, then drill and screw the lower left side. Then I repeat the process for the other end and we now have a self-supporting frame. Then it’s a matter of repeating the process for the other side.

To do the bottom-side supports I invert the table, again to avoid bending over. Using the 6″ off the floor measurment, I attach the bottom-side pieces.

Now I put the finshed frame in place (it’s actually the final one). Next comes attachment to the other tables and levelling but I will cover that next time.


Ta-da! The finished table in place.

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