DIY: Make your own side table (aka the table that almost wasn’t)

In honor of Halloween, I’m going to tell you a scary story. The story of how the Mr’s anniversary present was made. Prepare yourselves, it’s not pretty. I like to call this, the table that almost wasn’t.

I decided that I wanted to make the Mr something for our anniversary this year. I tend to do something homemade for this exchange and was struggling to find what I wanted to do. Then I decided a table would be great since it is durable, useful, and worthy of being kept for a long time. In my head, this was going to be a masterpiece. Before we get to what went wrong along the way, let’s do a sneak peak of the end:

So how did we get there? Well, it started with my vision. I wanted a thick cross slice of a tree trunk as the table portion. As you’ve no doubt noticed, that is not what I ended up with. Surprisingly, a thick natural looking wood slice is impossible to come by in the DC area. I called lumber yards, I called mass retailers like Lowes and Home Depot, all to no avail. So I had to change plans.

I still wanted something circular so I went to Home Depot and was promptly informed that they don’t sell round wood slices but I could buy a saw and do it myself. Apparently this was to take place in my apartment. No thanks.

Off to Lowe’s we go where I ended up with the following stash of supplies:

All in total there was a round, three legs, brackets, a sandpaper block, pre-stain wood conditioner, stain, sealant, and the appropriate brushes (both sponge and oil based paint). I thought this would be easy. I talked with a guy in line at Lowe’s who explained to me how to do the sealant. Clearly I thought this was all the info I needed and I figured I could bust this out in a weekend.

I start with sanding each piece to a nice smooth finish. Then came the pre-stain conditioner.

Then we were ready to stain:
First Coat:

It’s subtle, but there is a difference:

stain v no stain

Second Coat:

Second coat of stain

And the Third Coat:

Third and Final Coat

I really liked the color and thought the legs would look nice as it was. Then the first disaster strikes (I told you this was a scary story). My table was attacked. Well not the whole table, but one of the most important parts:


Who would do such a thing? Well, my roommates dog, that’s who. I hope the wood stain was delish.

So back to Lowe’s I go (which btw is not a 5 minute drive for me). I’ve decided this will now be a 2 weekend project. I get the replacement leg from the same bin at Lowe’s, went home, and stained it right on up. I then decided to compare the color with the other two legs and retrieved them from my room (out of the dog’s reach). Then I notice this:

I'm an idiot

Not only is it shorter than the others, it’s also a darker base color of wood. Whoever the jerk is that put this leg in the wrong bin sucks. I also suck for talking on the phone and blindly picking things out of the bin without double checking. I decided to go back to Lowe’s as soon as possible. This is now a three weekend project.

I finally have all of the pieces in the correct size and shade (trust me, I checked this time). I start sealing:

So Shiny!

Ready for mistake number 3? While the sealant is drying I accidentally hit the table with newspaper. This table will forever have the weather forecast from the Washington Post imprinted on the bottom. I couldn’t file it off. Thank goodness there are two sides to this thing.

After the first coat is dry, I decide to assemble them before the second coat of sealant is applied because honestly, this thing needs to be a table before it just combusts and I lose another leg. I’m sure there is a method here as to how to apply these brackets in relation to spacing. I just sort of guessed.

You can see the weather forecast here

So the table is finally assembled, and we have the final product after one more coat of sealant.

It’s not perfect, but he claims that he likes it. The sealant is a little bumpy. I’m not sure why that is but I’m thinking it might just be a little too thick? Either way, it works because we can always get a glass plate to throw over it. Plus once you tell people you made it no one is going to insult it (at least to your face).

So that’s it for my first foray into furniture building. I hope it was scary enough for this Halloween post for you!


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