This fabulous tutorial from Better Homes and Gardens will show you how to make a great table out of recycled furniture… Furniture made from recycled pieces of plywood doesn’t have to look cheap. With a little bit of creative flair you can build pieces that will be quite at home in any designer warehouse, or better still, at your place.
This hall or side table is made of dozens of individual plywood offcuts glued together to form large chunky slabs. If you haven’t accumulated a collection of offcuts, check local timber yards for bits and pieces. If you’re in a hurry, you only need a couple of sheets of CD plywood – damaged or marked sheets are fine.
Offcuts of 19mm-thick plywood; PVA adhesive; 30mm nails; 4 x 100mm screws; filler; sanding block; sealer undercoat; high gloss enamel
STEP 1 Assemble your collection of plywood. You can also use other materials, such as MDF, but to make life easy for yourself use blocks of all the same thickness (say 19mm) and dimensions in multiples of 100mm. For example, 100 x 100mm, 100 x 200mm, 100 x 300mm, 200 x 300mm and so on. Cut them to size. Given the size of the project, you actually need the equivalent of 1.5 sheets of plywood. In all, about 80-100 pieces of various sizes. If you have a lot of smaller plywood pieces, you will need a greater number. Gather about 25 to 30 pieces to make a leg. On a flat surface, lay out pieces of various sizes to form a 900 x 300mm rectangle.
STEP 2 Keep adding layers of wood, without glue at this stage. Stagger the joints wherever possible to give the unit more strength. A mixture of small and large pieces looks best. If you have an occasional small void in the centre it doesn’t really matter that much. Build up the stack until you have 5 layers.
STEP 3 Dismantle the stack and lay them down in reverse order. As you dismantle the pieces, sand the exposed edges and corners to remove any splinters.
STEP 4 Lay down the first layer again with the best side face down. Start gluing and nailing on the next layer. Glue makes the surfaces slippery. So start the nails in the piece you’re adding so the points just project through the bottom – to stop them moving around too much, then nail in place. Use 4-6 nails per piece. You don’t need to be too accurate as it’s supposed to be a conglomeration of various small pieces. If the pieces are out by a few millimetres at the edges it will just give some texture to the sides.
STEP 5 Keep adding pieces until you have 1 leg complete. Then build a second leg in the same way. If the ends of the legs are a little ragged, cut or plane them so that most of the bottoms and tops of the legs are flush and the legs are the same length.
STEP 6 Making the top is very similar, with one or three differences. At 1300mm, it’s longer and there are 2 housings for the legs. Lay out the stack for the tabletop, but leave a 95-100mm housing 300mm from each end in the bottom 2 layers. Dismantle as before and sand the corners and edges. Set the top layer aside as it is added last, after the table is assembled. Lay down the next layer and glue and nail the third layer to it. Then glue and nail the 2 end pieces to the assembly at one end. Use a spare offcut of plywood to check that the shoulder of the housing will be square and in line.
STEP 7 Stand a leg in place and bring in the first of the centre pieces. Check the leg will be square, then nail the first centre piece in place. Fit the rest of centre pieces, but make sure the shoulders of the next housing are square as well. Mark and remove the leg.
STEP 8 Hold second leg in place as a spacer, then glue and nail on the last of the table pieces to fit tightly against the face of the leg. Remove this leg as well and mark its position.
STEP 9 Stand the legs on the floor with the best end facing up. Test fit the top, tapping home using an offcut of plywood and a hammer if necessary. Ease slightly if the fit is too tight. Once everything fits, remove the top and apply a generous amount of glue to the bottom and shoulders of the housing and refit over the legs. Check that the legs are square to the top and parallel to each other. Predrill 4mm holes through the top to the legs and drive a pair of 100mm screws into each leg.
STEP 10 Glue and nail on the top layer of the tabletop. Finish the nails with a nail punch so that you do not end up with divots in the surface. Let the glue dry. Punch all the remaining nails with a nail punch, then fill the holes before sanding smooth.
STEP 11 Paint with an all-purpose primer-sealer undercoat such as Prepcoat, working it well into the joints and gaps. When dry, check for any remaining gaps, and fill with a flexible gap filler. Touch up the undercoat as necessary. When dry, give the table a light sand with fine sandpaper, then paint with 2 top coats of Dulux Super Enamel in Lime White, sanding lightly between coats. The beauty of using a hard-wearing oil-based gloss enamel is that you can achieve a much higher level of gloss than with acrylic, and leave fewer brush marks. Get the paint on fast, then lay off evenly with a brush.
Head over to Better Homes and Gardens now and you can watch a video of this project…