Sunday, October 13, 2013

A DIY Industrial Rustic Table Part 2: The Tutorial

Yesterday, I shared the story behind the creation of my industrial rustic table here, including all of the ups and downs along the way.  Today, I am sharing a tutorial for how to make it, without all those ups and downs.

  • Vintage sewing table legs, detached from the treadle (I found mine on eBay for around $45 plus shipping.  Find similar ones here.)
  • 4 pine boards, 6 feet long, 12 inches wide, 1 inch in thickness.
  • 1 package of wood screws, 1 1/2 inches long
  • 4 carriage bolts, 5/16 inches in diameter, 2 1/2 inches long (the size specifications here are to my tabletop thickness and the openings in the table legs for bolts.  Modify this as needed for your table)
  • 3 steel threaded rods, 5/16 inches in diameter, 70 inches long (I wrote about my difficulties with threaded rod in the previous post.  In my search, I only found the steel threaded rod in very short and very long sizes.  I cut the rods down to size myself and that was much easier than I anticipated.  Another important note: while I am partial to Home Depot because of the great customer service at the store in my area, they do not carry steel threaded rod.  They carry steel plated zinc threaded rod and zinc threaded rod.  DO NOT use this.  It bends over time and creates an unstable piece of furniture.  However, Lowes carries steel threaded rod in a variety of lengths and diameters.)
  • 16 hex nuts, 5/16 inches in diameter
  • Minwax Wood Stain (I used Jacobean, as I love the dark tones in it)
  • Minwax Polyurethane Satin or Semigloss, oil based
  • Wood glue (I prefer Liquid Nails brands of glue)
  • Sandpaper
  • A solvent for cleaning your paintbrush (I prefer Murphy's Oil Soap, but you can use turpentine, linseed oil, or even dishwashing soap)
  • Black or oil rubbed bronze spray paint

  • Cordless drill (make sure you pick up larger drill bits if you need them.  I had to pick up a 5/16 drill bit to create holes large enough to accommodate the larger bolts.)
  • Hammer
  • High quality paint brush (for the wood stain)
  • Paint roller (I used foam rollers; I find they give a smoother finish with paint and with sealant)
  • Paint tray
  • Hack saw with steel blades
  • Metal file
  • A rag (old is fine, it just needs to be clean)
  • Tarp or plastic drop cloth
  • Pliers
  • Adjustable wrench

The Process:
Step 1: Do some research.  As I said in Part 1, some of my difficulty stemmed from not having an exact tutorial for what I wanted to do.  However, I did pull from some fabulous tutorials for DIY dining/kitchen tables.  Here are the ones I found most useful as I was planning and building my table: Apartment Therapy: How to make a sewing machine dining table, A Beautiful Mess: Elsie's DIY Dining Room Table, Stylizimo: New trendy dining table in 1-2-3!, and Apartment Therapy: Gregory's project, the stereo cabinet, house of stain #5.

Step 2: Make a sketch and plan.  I find that drawing my idea out helps me to visualize what will work best for me.

Step 3: Pick up any materials and tools that you need.  For my table, I used three pine boards for the tabletop.  The fourth pine board I had cut in half (Home Depot and Lowes will both give you a few cuts for free.  For a renter with limited tools, like me, this is extremely helpful.) and I used those two halves to connect the three tabletop boards together.  The supporting boards need to be long enough to reach all the tabletop boards, so if you are planning a wider or skinnier table, you should adjust the size of the supporting boards accordingly.  Another materials note: you can use any type of wood for this table.  I chose pine because I love how "knott-y" it is; I thought that that texture would be especially pretty with the dark stain (and it's a very affordable wood).

Step 4: Prepare the tabletop and glue the support boards down.  Choose which side of the board you want to the be on the top and which directions those boards should go.  Then, lay all the boards down on the floor exactly as you want them to be in the finished table (nice, neat, all together), with the top side down.  Next, take the two half boards and spread wood glue all over them (I made a zig zag pattern) and place those boards across all three tabletop boards.  I placed mine diagonally to give the tabletop boards more support.  Place some heavy objects on top of those "support boards" to press the boards together while the wood glue dries.  I don't know that the weight of a puppy, as shown, really helps... but it didn't hurt the process.

Step 5) Attach the support boards to the tabletop using a drill and wood screws.  After the wood glue has dried fully (I let it dry overnight), use a cordless drill and wood screws to fully connect the support boards to the tabletop.  I went a little crazy with the  drilling and placed a screw about every inch or inch and a half.  I did this on the underside of the table, because I did not want those screws to show on the tabletop.  I chose 1 1/2 inch long screws specifically so that they could attach both boards (each board is 1 inch in thickness), but wouldn't break through the top.

Step 6) Sand, stain, and seal the underside of the table.  Lay down a tarp or plastic drop cloth and position the newly stable tabletop on it.  This will prevent any staining of your floor.  I sanded down the boards thoroughly, especially the support boards and edges, which are more likely to come into contact with hands and knees.  You should follow the instructions of your specific stain.  The one must I have to pass on is the recommendation to use a high quality brush.  With painting, you don't need to worry about this as much, but with stain, it definitely matters.  I spread the stain on quickly, allowed it to penetrate the wood for about twenty minutes (I wanted a dark stain, so if you're working with something lighter, like a honey color, you may not want to leave it on as long.), then rubbed off the excess with a clean rag.  Make sure you do this thoroughly, as any drips that are left get really sticky.  Also, make sure to check that nothing dripped between the boards and if anything has, wipe off that excess as well.  Clean your brush thoroughly after you finish to maintain it's softness and suppleness. 

Step 7) Determine the position of the legs, mark the holes for the bolts, and drill the holes.  The table legs I used had two spots for bolts on the top.  Some other legs may have more spots for these, and I would recommend attaching bolts in every spot you can.  The more stable the better.  I positioned the legs as if I were attaching them and used a Sharpie to mark where I should drill a hole for each bolt.  These bolts should go through the support boards and the tabletop boards for maximum stability. Make sure that the two legs are going to be attached parallel to each other; they must be parallel because you have to put the steel threaded rods through the legs..  Then, ask someone to help you by holding the tabletop up, to prevent you from drilling into the floor.  Use your cordless drill and a large drill bit (I used a 5/16 drill bit) to drill the holes for the bolts.

Step 8) Attach the legs to the tabletop using carriage bolts.  Have that helpful individual keep holding the tabletop while you push a carriage bolt into each hole.  You may need a hammer to really pound the bolts in; I did.  Next, slide the table legs onto those bolts and add a hex nut to the end of the bolt (on the underside of the tabletop.  Twist the bolts as tightly as you can with your hands, then use an adjustable wrench to twist them on further (you may need to hold the edge of the bolt with pliers to make sure that the nut is turning rather than the bolt).  Pay attention to the top side of the tabletop while you're doing this; it is possible to begin to sink the bolts into the wood if you're using a soft wood like pine.  You want to make sure these don't go too far into the wood.

Step 9) Insert the threaded rods for additional support.  If your table legs are like mine, you can probably wobble them considerably.  My table legs had three holes for the original iron rods to go through.  Before you put the steel rods through the holes, twist two hex nuts onto the threaded rod until they are approximately in the middle.  Slide the rod in one hole, then in the other (you may need to twist the nuts a bit to get this to happen).  Add another hex nut to the end of each rod (so essentially, you have one nut to border each side of the each table leg on each rod.  These lock the legs into place.).  If you, like me, will need to cut the rods down, make the process easier on yourself by pushing the rods far more to one side of the table than the other, so you only have to cut one end off, not both).  Twist the nuts as much as you can on either side of the table leg and then use the wrench to twist these as much as you can (the rods may bend a bit in the middle, stop when this begins to happen and the legs are straight up and down, perpendicular to the tabletop).  Repeat this for each rod.

Step 10) Cut the steel rods and file them down.  Use your hacksaw to cut the long end of the steel rod down.  This sounds like it will take forever and I put this step off forever.... but for realsies, it takes about ten minutes and is so easy.  I recommend putting a towel or something down under the rods to catch as much of the metal shavings as you can.  These ends are going to be sharp, so immediately file the ends with a metal file.  Be a little obsessive and file all around.  Check it for sharpness with your own hands.  It's so likely that someone's knee or ankle (or  your pets) could brush against these and you don't want anyone getting cut.  Immediately after filing, shake the towel out into a trash can, and then vacuum the floor around it to get all the metal shavings up so you don't cut your foot later on.

Step 11) Turn the table over, sand the top and edges, stain the top and edges, and seal them.  Have that friendly individual help you yet again to turn the table right side up.  If your table is big, like mine is, you need help.  Don't be a hero.  Then, thoroughly sand the tabletop and edges.  Run your hand over the top and edges to make sure it is smooth and won't give you or anyone else splinters.  As you can tell, I'd rather be the victim of metal or wood splinters than someone else.  I'm a good hostess and good with the tweezers.  Stain the top and edges of your table, again working quickly to ensure even application.  Let it penetrate the wood for about twenty minutes, rub off the excess, and then seal with some polyurethane.  I did a second coat of poly on the tabletop.  The reason I chose to seal the wood was to protect the tabletop as much as possible; it gets a ton of wear and tear.  Let the poly dry overnight.

Step 12) Spray paint the steel rods.  This isn't necessary, but I was bothered by the mismatch of the steel against the ironwork.  I carefully spray painted the steel rods, using a piece of paper to catch the extra spray.  If you have a garage or an outdoor space for this, I would recommend it.  If you, like me, don't have access to this, make sure you keep the area ventilated.

Step 13) Doublecheck your stability.  My table will wobble about an inch in either direction if it is pushed.  However, it should be no more unstable than that.  It should not wobble when you lean on it with your elbows while sitting and you should feel confident that it can withstand normal wear and tear.  If needed, tighten the nuts up more. 

Step 14) Enjoy your table!  We use our for meals, as a workspace, and as a central place for friends to gather.  While this table was a lot of work and was not exactly cheap to make, it was significantly less expensive than a new table made of similar materials, and it is a unique, industrial, rustic piece that gives new life to something old.

If you attempt this table or this tutorial inspires to you create a beautiful piece of furniture, I would love to hear about it!

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