The Perfect End Table


Remember last week when I said I had a project to share? Well the time has finally come! I am so excited about this one. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into it. See that beautiful end table up there? That's it! Zach and I made it with our own two hands. What was a couple of boards, is now a sturdy and stylish side table. 

I was really bad and didn't take any pictures along the way. Even though we had step by step instructions, this was very much a learn-as-you-go project! I'm going to try and give some tips on how we made it, but you can find the basic instructions on Ana White's blog if you are interested. She does some pretty awesome stuff over there. You should check it out! 

OK, here goes. Get ready for a text heavy post...

Step 1 - Planning
We printed the PDF directions from Ana's blog. Let me tell you, the planning process takes the longest and is the most important. Ana's plans are great, but we did change a few things to make it our own and customize the table for our space. 

We looked at the dimensions and actually wanted something a little taller since our couch has high arms (about 30 inches). The original table was only 24 inches high. I wanted it just short of 30 inches so there was a little difference between the couch height and the table height. We settled on adding 4 inches to the height of the table for a height of 28 inches. 

I also read all about the table that Jenn made on her blog House of Wood. She dubbed it the Perfect End Tabel and I totally agree! I loved the look of her two toned version of the table and we decided to go with her construction, which meant changing out the top to 3/4 inch plywood instead of a 1x12 + two 1x3s on top to make it a solid piece. 

Ana's plans are nice because they give you a shopping list, tools list, and cut list. It was really helpful, but being the novice furniture builders that we are, it still took us a while to figure out exactly what we needed. Plus, we don't have any tools really, besides a basic power drill and our multi tool (which we realized is not so great with the saw feature). 

My advice... if you change any of the measurements, calculate five times. Then measure five times. Then cut once. There were many a frustration in the Kane household at times, but that's part of the fun of doing it yourself.

Step 2 - Hit up the Hardware Store (a couple a few several times)
We spent quite a bit of time here. My past experience with Home Depot consisted of the paint department. I am clueless about lumber. Husband knows a little more. We must have made at least two trips to Home Depot and three trips to Lowe's over the weekend. Again, planning is key! Here's what we ended up getting:

1 - 4x4 3/4 inch Plywood
3 - 2x2s @ 8 feet long (we used Cedar)
14 - 2 inch wood screws (#8)
4 - 1 1/2 inch wood screws (#8)
8 - 1 3/4 inch wood screws (#8)
Wood Glue (Gorilla Glue)
Kreg Jig (the mini one)
Countersink drill bit
1 quart Olympic flat latex paint in Heirloom Lace 
1 half pint can of Varathane Wood Stain in American Walnut
1 half pint can of Varathane Polyurethane Semi Gloss Interior

Step 3 - Cutting
Since we don't have a hard core saw at home (I did ask for one for Christmas!) we found out that Home Depot does free cuts! It was so helpful! Just make sure you know what measurements you need cut. The cuts aren't guaranteed to be exact, but they are good enough for us! We got the plywood cut for  the top and the shelf. They do charge if you make a lot of cuts, but since we only did about three, it was free!

Bad news was that we cut the top piece an inch wider than we wanted due to some calculation errors. FYI - 2x2s are actually 1.5x1.5! I had no idea. Long story short, we tried to cut down the top piece with our multi tool saw, but it turned into a horrible mess. All jagged and uneven and definitely un-sandable. Although Z and I have different ideas on what can be sanded... he came around though. Luckily we had enough leftover plywood to cut another piece for the top. So back to Home Depot I went. I carried in my piece of plywood and they cut it again for free. Thank goodness, because I may have started crying in front of the guy in the orange vest in the store if not. 

We did cut the 2x2s with the multi tool and it worked pretty well. We were able to sand the ends down to get them even. It would have been ten times faster to use a table saw, but we used what we had.

Step 4 - Put it together
We followed Ana's plans for how to construct the base. It was fairly straightforward and went pretty fast once we charged our power drill and got the hang of the jig. The jig is such a helpful tool! We got the mini version which worked really well with our power drill. From there it was just drilling and gluing and putting it together. Easy compared to the cutting/planning process!

Step 5 - Sand/Paint/Stain
Next, I lightly sanded all the pieces and then painted the base in the off-white color. I did primer first and then at least two coats of the off-white. For the top, I did two coats of stain, applying evenly (and following the directions on the can!) and then wiping off after 5-10 minutes with a clean, dry cloth. I did three coats of the polyurethane on the top surface, then put it all together after it had set for a couple days and did one more coat of polyurethane over the whole thing. 

The wood grain on the plywood actually turned out really cool. I love the texture it brings. I was unsure at first, because it almost looked like a zebra pattern, but after it set it looks really good! Especially with a few coats of polyurethane to make it shiny and durable.

OK, enough chatter (told you it was a wordy post - congrats for making it this far!). Here's some after pictures. I'm pretty much in love with it and I'm so proud of us for making this ourselves! I know it's something we will look back at years from now and be like, "yeah, we made that." :) 





You may remember what used to occupy the space next to the couch (from this post). I think this is a huge improvement! Especially considering what used to be there was actually a desk. I love the wood look on the top surface. It's a nice change from the all white and brings some depth. I am so happy with how it turned out! 

Zach hasn't even seen the full thing in real life yet. Since he is in Silverdale, I had to finish it without him while he was gone. I think it looks pretty awesome! I just love how it's our own custom piece that we made ourselves! There's something very gratifying and satisfying in completing projects like this. 

I guess you might want a cost breakdown, huh? I didn't include the tools, since they weren't project specific and can be used for other things.

Cost (rounded):
Plywood - $20
Cedar 2x2s - $18 ($6 each)
14 - 2 inch wood screws - $4
4 - 1 1/2 inch wood screws - $2
8 - 1 3/4 inch wood screws - $4
Paint - $10
Wood Stain - $5
Polyurethane - $7

Total Cost: $70!

$70 for a totally custom and sturdy piece furniture sounds pretty great to me! Overall, it took us a lot longer to make than we thought it would, but I think it would be much faster if we had the right supplies and did a little better in the planning department. This being our first furniture building experience (watch out, we might be going Amish now:) made it a longer process as well. I had no idea what a jig was before this project. But I'm confident if we tackle another furniture building project, it would go a lot smoother (and I will take pictures, I promise!).

Besides our big chair reupholstering project, this is one of our biggest projects yet. What is the biggest project you've worked on? Isn't it fun to make something from scratch? What have you made lately? I'm already trying to decide on our next Ana White project! Thanks to Ana for providing all the free plans!

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