I usually don’t start my projects by saying, “Wow, I would really love to build an end table!” No, instead, I usually buy three or four end tables and realize nothing quite fits the space like I was hoping. Then I put it off for another 6 months convincing myself that I’ll find something the right size. In the end, I break down and build it myself to the exact specifications that I was convinced I would find somewhere else.
I often build out of necessity. Things are too expensive, items are made poorly from cheap materials, the lead time is too long, it’s not the right color and or not the right size. So I build. I waited for almost two years to build this table and I shouldn’t have put it off for so long.
I purchased 4/2 white oak, so it’s nice and thick and heavy. I glued pieces together for the width I wanted my tabletop to be and traced a large circle. I originally thought I was going to cut this with a jig saw, but I thought better of it and used a router with a circular jig. This proved to be problematic as the wood was so thick and I had to make multiple passes around the circle. The bit kept having issues and getting stuck and then falling out of the router all together, gouging the wood in the process. I think I needed to take smaller passes each time I went around the circle.
It wasn’t a pretty process, but I eventually had a decent circle!
I spent a lot of time on the computer figuring out the angles I needed for my legs so my table would be a certain height (one of the major reasons for building my own table). I wasn’t overly confident I had figured it out when I started cutting but I had spent far too long drawing it out, I just needed to move forward and see if it worked. By some miracle, all the measurements and angles were accurate. Essentially I built an X and then built two 1/2 X’s to join to the X.
Stain is always tricky for me – I love some of the finishes you see in commercial pieces and I find it hard to replicate those. I loved the grain of the white oak, and I wanted to accentuate it, so I used Verathane White wash on a freshly sanded surface. Once it was dry, I sanded all the surfaces again and wiped clean. This left the wood ready for stain (a mix of weathered oak and classic gray), with white embedded in the grain.
I attached the 1/2 X’s to the solid X. This is one of those steps that I wasn’t sure how to do and so I just jumped in and quickly realized I hadn’t thought it all the way through. I ended up using glue and a screw through the 1/2 X and into the large X. I then attached the tabletop with screws (through the legs into the top) and I just about did a happy dance when I realized the table was solid and wasn’t rocking! 🙂
I used wipe on poly to finish it off. I love Rustoleum wipe on poly in satin. Home depot used to sell it, but now I can only find it at Lowes. Unlike brush poly, wipe on is forgivable. It’s doesn’t leave strokes and it dries even. It has a short re-coat time, but you do have to put a lot more coats on. Every couple coats you’re supposed to sand in-between coats. And I typically do my final coats using a wet sand paper. Its as if you’re using the wet sand paper as your rag to apply. It leaves a smooth flawless finish.
And there she sits. She is heavy, solid oak…and beautiful.