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In the midst of planning a room renovation for my mother-in-law, I came across the coolest round side tables. The problem? The side table from a designer store cost hundreds of dollars for one.
That was more than our entire renovation budget! Instead, we decided to build our own DIY side tables with rounded tops. Technically we’ll use them as nightstands, but they work great as either! Instead of the hefty designer price tag, we were able to build TWO round tables for less than $100!
Alright, let’s start DIYing and make a round side table!
How to Make a Round Side Table
- Circular Saw
- Miter Saw
- Brad Nailer
- Random Orbital Sander
- ¾” 4×8 sheet of plywood (we used red oak on ours. You can get 2 tables out of a single sheet)
- 6 – ¼” round dowels (3 for each table)
- 1.5 – 2” edge banding (we used this one, but make sure you get whatever type matches your plywood)
- Super glue
- Wood glue
- 2” nails
- 220 grit sandpaper
- Minwax Stainable Wood Filler
- Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner
- Minwax Wood Finish Oil-Based Penetrating Stain in Ebony
- Minwax Polycrylic in Matte
- Clean white rags for staining
- Purdy XL brush
Final Dimensions: 16” wide x 16” deep x 21” tall
STEP 1: GLUE PLYWOOD TOGETHER
After selecting your plywood, ask an employee at your local Lowe’s to cut the plywood in half at 24”. You can also cut the plywood yourself at home, but I prefer to get it cut at the store so that it’s easier to get in the car and ready for me to glue together when I get home.
Add a generous amount of wood glue to the plywood and glue the two pieces together, making sure that the “pretty” sides of the plywood are facing out.
Clamp and let the plywood dry overnight.
STEP 2: CUT YOUR PLYWOOD
Since we glued two pieces of plywood together to create a single piece that is 1.5” thick, you’ll likely need to trim off the edges so that the two pieces are flush on each side. We used our circular saw and a straight edge guide to trim the edges.
For each table you build, use a circular saw to cut your plywood into the following pieces:
- (1) 16” square (this piece doesn’t need to be exact. You just need a piece that’s at least 16×16 to cut the top out of)
- (3) 19.5 x 7 for the legs
- (1) 1.5” strip along the length of the plywood
After cutting the 1.5” strip, you’ll need to cut 5 equilateral triangles, meaning all the sides will be 1.5” wide.
We switched to the miter saw for this step. Cut each side at a 30-degree angle to create triangle pieces. We used the plywood legs as a guide on where to cut in lieu of measuring. Try to get your pieces to match the width of the plywood edges as closely as possible.
Next, cut (3) dowels to 19.5” to match the height of the legs. I like to tape my dowels together and cut them all at once.
The last thing we need to do is cut the top into a circle. You can either draw a 16” circle with a compass and then freehand the cut with a jigsaw, or you can use a router or circular saw to cut a perfect circle.
STEP 3: APPLY EDGE BANDING
We applied edge banding to our piece after assembly, but wished we would’ve done it prior. We also used 2” edge banding because that’s what we had available, but 1.5” would’ve been easier. Instead of having to cut off the excess, you can just sand off the excess if you use 1.5” thick edge banding. This is much easier when it comes to the circle top!
Apply edge banding to one long side of each of the legs and around the top. The circle does make it a little trickier to apply edge banding, but it is possible.
Rather than trying to apply a single piece all the way around the top, I recommend adding edge banding to half of the circle, cutting off the excess, and then applying the second half.
Note: the less perfect your circle is, the more challenging it’ll be to apply the edge banding. We cut one circle using the circular saw jig and the edge banding was fine to apply. The one we freehanded with a jigsaw was a little more challenging and had a couple of gaps that I ended up having to add wood filler to.
STEP 4: ATTACH SIDES
The sides are attached to one another via the 1.5” triangles that we cut earlier. I used a few dots of super glue on each piece as well as normal wood glue.
Since we can’t clamp this structure while the wood glue dries, the super glue helped fuse the pieces together quickly while the rest of the wood glue dries. The super glue is for speed while the wood glue is for strength.
Start by attaching all the triangles to one leg. In addition to using the super glue to hold in place while the wood glue dries, you can also use a few nails in each triangle.
Once the triangles are attached to the first leg, attach them to the next leg using super glue, wood glue, and nails.
Finally, attach the third leg using super glue and wood glue. You can add a nail or two to the top and bottom triangles, but you won’t be able to add nails to the others.
If you want to add more stability and structure during assembly, you can add a pocket hole to the top and bottom of the sides and use these to further secure the sides to the top and bottom triangles.
This next note is extremely important: do not try to move your table or test the stability of the joints for at least 12-24 hours.
If you properly applied the wood glue, your side tables will be really sturdy in the end. But, if you try to mess with them to see if it’s actually working, the glue won’t have a chance to bond to the wood properly.
Pro-tip: if you’re worried about accidentally gluing your side table to your workbench or table, place a piece of parchment paper underneath it. It’ll protect the surface and the paper will come right off of the wood.
STEP 5: ATTACH TOP
Center the circle up on the legs with a 1/2” overhang on each of the legs. Since we’re working with a circle and three legs, it might look a little off at certain angles, but it should look centered when looking straight down any of the legs.
Use a pencil to mark the placement of the legs on the top. Remove top and add wood glue to the top of the legs.
Line the top back up with the legs, using the pencil marks to guide your placement. Add (2) 2” nails through the top and into each leg.
STEP 6: SAND
After letting the wood filler dry, sand everything with 220 grit sandpaper. Sanding preps the wood for stain, removes excess wood filler and wood glue, and makes the surface nice and smooth. Don’t skip this step!
STEP 7: APPLY PRE-STAIN WOOD CONDITIONER
Every time we stain, we follow the same three step process. The first step is to apply Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. Because we’re using an oil-based stain, we’re using the oil-based pre-stain…aka the red can.
Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner penetrates into the wood, helping it to absorb stain as evenly as possible.
For this project, we applied the Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner using a clean white rag and let it absorb for 15 minutes. We then wiped off the excess before moving onto the next step.
This simple step is well worth it to get the best results!
STEP 8: APPLY STAIN
For this project we used Minwax Wood Finish Oil-Based Penetrating Stain in Ebony. To apply, I wiped it on with a clean rag, waited 15 minutes for it to penetrate the wood, and then wiped off the excess using a new clean rag.
Usually I stop at one coat, but this time I wanted an even richer color. After waiting 4 hours, I repeated the staining process for a second coat.
Don’t forget to apply pre-stain and stain to your dowels even though they aren’t installed just yet.
STEP 9: ADD DOWELS
Before moving onto the final finishing step, we’ll install the dowels between the legs. This adds a nice little detail to the side tables, while also covering up any gaps you might have between the legs.
We opted to apply the dowels after staining because glue doesn’t stain and I didn’t want to risk some glue seeping out from beyond the dowel.
To apply, add a few drops of super glue to the back of the dowel and then press into the corner between the legs. Hold for about 15-30 seconds while the glue dries, then repeat with the remaining dowels.
Though we wanted to install the dowels until after staining, you still want to be careful not to put too much glue.
STEP 10: APPLY POLYCRYLIC
Four hours after applying the second coat of stain, it was time for the final step in the finishing process: protecting our finish!
Wood stain makes our wood look great, but it doesn’t necessarily protect the wood. To protect it, we’ll use our go-to: Polycrylic!
We love using Polycrylic on projects because it dries crystal-clear. It enhances the beauty of your wood and the stain, without altering the color. It’s also super-fast drying. You can recoat in just 2 hours!
For this project, we used the Matte finish.
To apply, we used our Purdy XL brush. A quality brush is important to give you the smoothest finish. No visible brush strokes here!
We applied a total of three coats. After waiting 2 hours for the previous coat to dry, I then lightly sanded with 220 grit sandpaper and then wiped the surface before applying the next coat. This simple step will give you an even smoother and impressive finish!
There you have it! Now you know how to build a DIY round side table. These side tables work great at an end table or a small nightstand.