Build It: Simple Side Table

Posted by in Home Improvement Tips, on October 2, 2016

Watch the full episode:

This Old House general contractor Tom Silva shows how to construct a simple yet beautiful side table. (See below for a shopping list, tools, and steps.)

Click here to SUBSCRIBE to the official This Old House YouTube channel:

Shopping List for a Simple Side Table:
– 2×2 fir balusters, to make the table legs
– 1×4 fir decking, for fabricating the table aprons
– 5/4-by-6-inch fir decking, to make the tabletop
– Carpenter’s glue, for gluing together wood parts
– Narrow stick, to spread glue
– Cloth, for wiping away excess glue
– ¾-inch plywood and toggle clamp, to make tapering jig
– 120-grit abrasive disks, for random-orbit sander
– 1½-inch pocket screws, to screw together wood parts
– ¼-inch-thick spacer blocks, for creating a reveal between the aprons and legs
– Double washers and 5/8-inch screws, for securing the tabletop
– Furniture glides, to fasten to the bottom of each leg
– Primer and paint, wood stain, or clear polyurethane varnish, to finish the table

Tools for a Simple Side Table:
– Miter saw, to crosscut lumber to size
– Table saw, for ripping lumber to size
– Bar clamps, for clamping together the tabletop
– Random-orbit sander, to sand smoother wood parts
– Router and 1/8-inch-radius rounding-over bit, to shape the edges of the table legs
– Pocket-hole jig, for making pocket-hole joints
– Cordless drill, to drill holes and drive screws
– ¾-inch spade bit, to drill recesses for double washers
– Hammer

Steps for a Simple Side Table:
1. Cut the fir table parts to length with a miter saw.
2. Use a table saw to rip off the edges of the 5/4-by-6-inch fir decking, creating four square-edge boards.
3. Apply carpenter’s glue to the edges of the boards, then evenly spread the glue with a narrow stick.
4. Use two bar clamps to clamp together the four boards to form the tabletop.
5. Wipe off the excess glue with a damp cloth. Allow the glue to cure for 2 to 3 hours.
6. Make a tapering jig out of ¾-inch plywood and a 1×4. Cut a notched taper into the 1×4 to permit removing ½ inch from the 2×2 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.
7. Set the 2×2 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 2×2 table leg.
8. Unlock the toggle clamp and rotate the leg 90 degrees. Lock down the clamp and cut a second taper into the leg.
9. Repeat the previous two steps to cut two tapers into each of the remaining three 2×2 table legs.
10. Sand smooth all four sides of each table leg with a random-orbit sander fitted with 120-grit abrasive.
11. 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.
12. Remove the bar clamps from the tabletop. Use the random-orbit sander to sand both sides of the tabletop.
13. Use the router with 1/8-inch-radius rounding-over bit to rout around the top of the tabletop.
14. Use a cordless drill and pocket-hole jig to drill two screw-pocket holes into each end of all four aprons.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. Use a 5/8-inch screw to fasten a steel double washer to each recess.
18. Set the tabletop upside down on a padded workbench, then place the bottom portion of the table on top with legs sticking straight up.
19. Center the table legs on the top, then drive 5/8-inch screws through the double washers and into the underside of the tabletop.
20. Hammer a furniture glide onto the bottom end of each table leg.
21. Finish the table as desired with primer and paint, wood stain, or clear polyurethane varnish.

Watch new episodes of Ask TOH:,,,00.html

Follow This Old House and Ask This Old House:
For more stories like this from Bay Area Plumbing Headquarters, bookmark our site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *