I mentioned in this post that I was working on some DIY projects for the new space behind the scenes. And today I can share that the largest of those projects is complete! I partnered with Lowe’s to create DIY workspace tables / desks that we now use for working on craft projects, computer stuff, and (coming soon!) in-person workshops. So, I’m sharing the tutorial today, in case you want to make your own.
If you remember, we had some old white Ikea tables in the main work area before. But they weren’t really cutting it, in terms of size and sturdiness. So, I replaced them with this DIY version – bigger and better, for sure!
The surface area on these puppies is perfect for all of the random things we have going on throughout the day. Lots of room to spread out – way more than a standard desk. And the wood tops are a nice change of pace too, from all of the white.
As intimidating as a furniture DIYs can be, I’m happy to say that this one is relatively easy. And while it’s not as simple as putting a piece of wood on a saw horse and calling it a day, it’s completely doable for pretty much any weekend warrior.
Click through for the step by step tutorial.
Materials (makes 2 tables):
- 5 sheets of 18 x 72 kiln-dried Aspen panel (which will make two tables -if only making one table, you’ll only need 3 sheets)
- 2 pieces of common board that are each 1 inch x 6 inch x 8 feet (which will make two tables – if only making one table, you’ll only need 1 board)
- 2 pairs of Portamate saw horses (which will make two tables – if only making one table, you’ll only need 1 pair)
- circular saw (I like this one)
- orbital sander (I like this one)
- drill and drill bits (I like this one)
- 1 1/4 inch wood screws
- wood glue
- 4-6 bar clamps
- large straightedge and long level
- wood filler and spatula
- pencil for marking
1. There are plenty of options out there for table legs that make creating your own table really easy. But I wanted to try something a little different from the increasingly ‘standard’ hair pin legs. I like them too, I just wanted something different. So, I went with saw horses as legs, which makes them really easy to disassemble and move somewhere else, if need be, because the legs fold into themselves.
Standard saw horses are too high for normal table heights though, so you’ll want to have someone cut the saw horse legs down to a normal table height first. I used a local collective called B10 Union to have cut the legs down, so the total saw horse height was 29 inches.
Note: I had thought about having the saw horses powder coated another color, and this would have been the time to do it. But once I saw them next to the chairs, I realized they actually worked pretty well with the blue and the dark floors. So for now, I’m happy with them as is. If you have any color suggestions for the future though, I’d love to hear ‘em.
2. To create the final dimensions of each table (which is 72 inches long x 45 inches wide), you’ll need two pieces of Aspen panel that are each 72 x 18 (which you can purchase already cut in that dimension) AND one extra piece of Aspen wood that will be cut lengthwise right down the middle, for an extra 9 inches of width. That will give you the finished tabletop dimension of 72 x 45. And you can use the remaining 72 x 9 piece for a second table.
So, the first step would be, using a circular saw, cut one piece of Aspen wood in half lengthwise, after marking off the measurements with a pencil.
3. While you’re using the circular saw, also cut the common boards down to 34 inches in length. These will be your support pieces of the underside of the table. There will be 2 support pieces for each table. So, if you’re making two tables, like we did, you’ll cut 4 total support pieces.
Set the support pieces aside.
4. Next, lay down and line up your three pieces of wood (2 72 x 18 pieces and 1 9 x 72 piece cut in step #2) on top of two saw horses (the saw horses don’t have to be in the perfect table position yet, so don’t worry about that) to ensure the least amount of gapping and clamp each seam together with bar clamps. ***Make sure the bad / ugly sides are facing up, so that when the table is done and you flip it over, the good sides will then be showing. It’s okay if there are slight gaps- they can be fixed with wood filler later.
5. The top of each sawhorse (lengthwise) is 36 inches. To determine where the saw horses will go once the table is finished, grab an additional saw horse, place it on top of the table top, and measure 8 inches in from the edge of the table. Then center the saw horse from there.
Next, butt one of your support pieces from step #3 to the saw horse and make sure the support is centered up. The support piece should have approximately 5.5 inches of room on either side. Remove the saw horse and trace around the entire support piece. Repeat this process on the other side with the other saw horse leg and support piece. This process will act as a guide for the next step and help ensure proper placement.
6. Next, apply wood glue to one side of your reinforcement/support piece and place on table top, where you drew the support guide in step #4. Using a right angle double check to ensure your measurements are correct and level with the edge of the table. Secure with clamps or weights. Then repeat this process with the other support piece. Allow the wood glue to dry according to the instructions on the bottle before moving on to the next step.
7. Next for screw placement, measure 2 inches in from the far sides of the support and 1 inch from the bottom. Then repeat this process (2 inches out and 1 inch in from the bottom) from each board seam, on both ends of the table. We had a total of 12 screws per reinforcement joint.
8. Once all of the measurements are marked, drill starter holes for the screws, making sure not to drill through the table top.
9. Then insert screws. Repeat this process on the other end with the other support piece. IMPORTANT: Make sure to keep your clamps on your reinforcement piece during this step.
10. Now that the tabletop is secure, flip it over and move the saw horses underneath, so that they butt up against the supports. If you do this, and make sure they are centered up, you don’t technically have to secure the legs to the tabletop. BUT you can if you’d like, by screwing through the existing holes in the saw horses through to the wood tabletop.
11. Next, add wood filler to any gaps that may still be left between the boards, if any. Wait for the wood filler to dry according to the instructions on the container.
12. Then, sand the edges and tabletop with an orbital sander to smooth the surface even further. Wipe clean with a cloth.
13. Then, finish with 2-3 coats of polyurethane. Sanding in between each coat. Done!
Since we did not screw the saw horse legs to the tabletop, the tables are super easy to move around if necessary and create different arrangements (like one big long table for dinner parties, etc). You just pick up the tabletop, move the legs where they need to be and plop the tabletop back down on top, making sure the saw horse legs are lined up properly. SO easy!
P.S. Since I have a feeling some of you are wondering…all of the chairs and those crazy looking cacti on the the tables are from Lowe’s too! The cactus is called coral cactus. And the chairs can be found right here… in blue and in white.
Step photos Amelia Tatnall
Styled photos Brittni Mehlhoff
It’s been a little wheel since I’ve made a piece of furniture (remember the DIY bench I made?), so it feels good to be jumping back into that again. But I’m curious to know what you think…
Do you like larger DIY projects like this one? And more importantly, do you see a DIY table like this one in your future?
This post is in partnership with Lowe’s. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Paper & Stitch running.