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One of my favorite things about DIY is getting to build things for way less than retail prices. In fact, that’s why I got started with DIY in the first place!
I’ve always had expensive taste but was unable (and unwilling) to pay designer prices. Rather than settling for something else, I challenged myself to build it. Years later, nothing gets me more excited than being able to say I built something for 50,70, or 90% less than it would’ve cost to buy.
And the extra benefit of building something yourself? You can customize it to be exactly what YOU want. Whether it be changing the color or the size, you’re in control.
This week’s challenge? Build $498 side tables from a single sheet of plywood.
If you want to match the original dimensions, you’ll be able to build one side table from a piece of plywood. If you’re like me and don’t have the space for a 19″ deep side table, you can build TWO 12″ deep side tables out of a single sheet of plywood.
2 side tables for $75 vs. $996? Not too shabby!
Alright, let’s start DIYing!
Cut your plywood down to 2 – 24″ wide pieces then place one piece on top of a few spare 2x4s. These will lift the plywood off of the ground, allowing you to clamp all of the edges (and not glue your plywood to the floor).
Apply a generous amount of wood glue to the piece of plywood that is resting on the 2x4s. Spread the glue so that you have an even coat across the entire sheet.
Position the second plywood sheet on top of the first piece and clamp them together. Let dry overnight.
Cut your plywood down to the cut list.
We made our cuts using a circular saw with a spare board clamped as a guide.
Pocket holes are the foundation of most DIY furniture. Become a pocket hole pro in less than an hour in Pocket Holes: Explained.
Drill two pocket holes on the bottom side of your bottom leg pieces using the 1 1/2″ setting. The pocket holes will be on the end that was cut at 14-degrees.
Apply edge banding to each piece of plywood on the sides that will be visible (everything except for the angled sides).
Sand your plywood with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper until smooth.
To apply the pre-stain, I wiped it on with a rag, waited 5 minutes, and then wiped off any excess using a clean, dry rag.
Picking a stain color is always the most exciting part of any project for me. The color you choose can completely change the look and feel of your furniture.
We could go bold by choosing a colored stain or True Black, or we could go with a more of a beachy feel by choosing a lighter stain color or white. What to do…
I tested out 5 different stain color options for this project using a scrap piece of plywood and ended up choosing Minwax Wood Finish in Driftwood for these side tables.
To apply the stain, I wiped it on with a clean rag, waited 5 minutes and then wiped off any excess using a clean rag.
Want more staining tips? Check out this post!
The half pint was more than enough for this project. I still had over half a can left after staining both side tables. We let the stain dry for about 2 hours before moving onto the next step.
Now it’s time to turn these random boards into an actual side table! First, measure and mark 2.5″ in from either end of the top. Clamp a spare board at 2.5″ on one of the sides.
Grab your long leg and measure and mark 13″ from the outside tip of the top of the leg. You’ll use this mark to get the placement of your short legs in just a minute.
Add a generous amount of glue to the top of the long leg and position it up against the spare board you clamped at 2.5″. Center it 1/2″ from the front and back of the table top.
Once in place, make sure the angle it flat against the side table top and then add a few nails to secure it in place.
Unclamp your spare board and move it to the other side, again clamping it 2.5″ in.
Add a generous amount of glue to both angled edges of your top short board and position it up against the spare board you just clamped.
Add a few nails to secure it and then grab your drill.
Make sure the bottom of the short board is lined up with the 13″ mark you made on the long leg and pre-drill two holes through the long leg and into the short leg.
Drill at an angle that matches the short leg and make sure you position the holes where they won’t interfere with the placement of the pocket holes in the bottom short leg. Add your screws.
Now we need to position the bottom leg. To do this, start by eyeballing it. Line the bottom leg up so that it continues the line of the top leg. Clamp a spare board underneath the bottom leg to help keep it in place.
Once you feel good about the positioning, grab a spare board and place it on top of the legs. This will help you determine if the table is square or if one or both sides need to be adjusted.
Once you’re happy with the placement, add glue to your bottom leg and add 2.5″ Kreg screws through the pocket holes.
Wipe off any excess wood glue before it dries.
Since we opted to stain before assembling, we’re going to use Early American Wood Putty to fill in any gaps. If you used a different stain color than ours, look for your stain color name on the top of the wood putty container. The top of the container lists out all the compatible stain colors for a particular wood putty color.
Unlike wood filler, you do not sand or stain wood putty after applying. Press it into your gaps and then wipe off any excess.
To protect my project, I chose to finish it with Minwax Soft Touch Wax because it’s quick to apply and I’ve been dying to find out just how soft “Soft Touch” really is.
This was my first time using Minwax Soft Touch Wax and I’m impressed! It doesn’t change the color of your project and it really does leave your project feeling oh so soft. Beware: use this stuff and you might not be able to stop petting your furniture!😉
To apply the wax, you simply rub it on in a circular motion using a clean rag, let it sit for 5 minutes, and then buff off any excess.
Overall, I ended up using about half of the can between the two side tables, so I’ll have plenty to recoat them again in a year or to use for another project.
There you have it! Now you know how to make two DIY side tables out of a single sheet of plywood. The cool thing about these side tables is that the x base detail also makes for a great magazine or book rack. Just because you don’t have a drawer doesn’t mean there isn’t storage!
Looking for more end table inspiration? We’ve rounded up the best DIY end table plans on the internet! From farmhouse to modern, there’s a plan for everyone!
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