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Topic: Butcher Block Side Table & Tutorial  (Read 2735 times)
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Ruffles and Pearls... and Anthropologie Delights

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« on: January 17, 2012 02:39:35 PM »

I’m a poor college student… okay, so that may not be the exact case, but I am a college student who loves the Anthropologie aesthetic, but cannot afford to furnish her whole home with their furniture… I also told myself when I moved this past year that everything that I didn’t already have prior to moving would need to be purchased secondhand, re-purposed, re-designed, or gifted. I wanted to create an environment all my own while also FORCING myself to become creative (it’s a good pleasurable distraction). I wanted my home to be re-imagined.

Anyways, recently I saw Anthropologie's Plank Coffee Table
But it's $600... meeps... The reason I loved it was that it reminded me of vintage butcher blocks...  The different colors of wood all next to each other has made me swoon for ages. I don’t really need a butcher block in my kitchen (I wouldn’t really use it), so I decided that I could put that same style top on a side table.

For this project I used:

    A dinged up table found for $4 at a Value Village close to where my parents live
    a Kreg Jig – you can also use wooden dowels to join the wood
    16.5′ of plywood cut into lengths 2″ longer than the width of my table — you may need less feet, or more of the plywood, depending on size of your table
    Wood Stains — I used Chestnut, Mahogany, and Cherry — You can apply these in different ways to impact their color
    Screws – I used 22 coarse screws
    Bar of soap
    sandpaper — or an electric sander
    Miter saw — can also use a hand saw
    clamps — at one point I used four
    a few extra pieces of wood to make a 90 degree jig to ensure everything is square


My mother picked up a side table at Value Village for me for $4 (she got it half off) and it was in INCREDIBLY rough shape. We had to take it apart, replace, and reinforce some of the boards (and then also use wood glue). The top was incredibly cheap looking and incredibly scratched up (I might be able to repurpose it for something else — like a tray or a frame).  However, we both knew that dinged up top would QUITE readily pop off – which it did, it was held on by about six screws. Making this table the perfect candidate for a butcher block top.

Besides even with what was done to the table in these beginning stages, the table was only around $7. NOTE: If you can’t find a suitable candidate at a secondhand shop, you can easily find a cheap wood table at Home Goods for around $20 that would be suitable as well (I used one of their tables as a base for a suitcase chair that I made — I might do a tutorial on that later on)

To get the butcher block feel I craved, I headed out to Lowe’s and bought some varying width boards that were 3/4″ thick. (NOTE: I would stick with this thickness, or increase it)


For my table, I decided I wanted a 1″ overhang in all directions. I’d recommend getting an extra board’s length in both sizes so you can play around with wide to skinny board ratios. I wound up using a total of 11 boards, but cut a total of 12. That totaled 16.5′

Use a miter saw to cut them to length – if you don’t have a miter saw, a handsaw will work as well. Just make sure you take your time to make sure all the boards are EXACTLY the same length.

Sand all the board — Paying special attention to the where you made the cuts.

Wipe them off to get rid of any saw dust and start staining away. Some of mine got a couple of coats to darken them up. Give yourself a variety. (Personally: I wanted varying shades, so I picked three different stains — chestnut, mahogany, and cherry)

Wait for them to dry and once they’re done doing that you can play around with their placement (see side picture). Have fun mixing up the different stains and widths. It’s sort of fun to try to figure out which combination is the most appealing to you.

Use a Kreg Jig to drill holes to join the boards. NOTE: If you don’t know — all you have to do is place the board so the end you want showing is pointing towards the fastener. Make sure the board is flush — ie: not tilted — You then take the drill – with the proper bit attached – and drill down the hole. Basically what it does is drill a tunnel of sorts at a slight angle – creating a hole for you to put a screw into. Hiding the screw on the underside of the table. No need for dowels, or boards, etc.

If you don’t have a Kreg Jig, I HIGHLY recommend it… they’re incredibly reasonably priced and create an incredibly strong joint. The mini kit (I used the master with the toolbox) is only $20… and would work well for this project — and no I’m not being paid to endorse them… but in case you don’t feel like it’d be a good investment you could also join the pieces of wood together with wood dowels or by using wood to act as a joining bracket/brace (though the latter might complicate things if you’re not cautious of the table’s opening.

Vary the places where you drill the holes — you don’t want them all lined up board to board, but staggered to ensure extra stability.

Once you’ve done all the hole drilling it’s time to join the boards together. To ensure that everything is squared away and your top doesn’t come out crooked you’ll want to create a 90 degree jig (or template) — I made mine by screwing down two pieces of plywood to the end of my Kreg Jig setup.

Clamp down the two boards you wish to join together to ensure that they remain flush. Make sure they’re lined up inside the 90 degree jig you just created. At one point I used four clamps… better safe than sorry.

This process takes awhile. You may need to add onto your setup as the boards grow in length. I did mine in sections of four boards (the last section had three boards). When joining them ALL together, I had to screw in an extra board onto my 90 degree jig to ensure they all stayed square.

Which they did! Score.

At this point is became as easy as attaching the top (via screws through the bottom) to the rest of the table. I used the screws that had attached the original top (coating them in a bar of soap prior to using to help prevent any cracking of wood) and used those same holes as guidelines. I centered the top so that it would be a perfect one inch overhang all the way around

To protect the stains, as the final step, I added five coats of clear polycoat.

All together the project cost me around $25.

« Last Edit: December 31, 2012 07:35:29 AM by jungrrl - Reason: changed non-working image(s) to link(s) » THIS ROCKS   Logged

« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2012 02:58:18 PM »

It does look very smart Smiley

Look twice, buy once. Nooooo
Look twice, decide I can make one instead.
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2012 04:17:32 PM »

I love this! Awesome job and thank you for the tute, I don't have space for a new table but I'm bookmarking this for future use.

« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2012 07:55:29 PM »

Wow! This came out really great! I love how vibrant the colors on the wood look. I would love to have something like that in my living room  Smiley

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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2012 09:37:01 PM »

I think what people at this site create is so much better than anything that can be "from the shelf" of a store, and your project is a prime example of that. This is very beautiful! I love the varied-colored top, which presents a sense of "balance" in the tone, even with the different colors of wood. Great job!

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Ruffles and Pearls... and Anthropologie Delights

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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2012 09:08:12 AM »

Thanks, it was pretty simple to make (just time consuming due to all the staining and such) and I'm lucky that whenever I visit my parents I have access to SO many tools.

I'll probably be posting other tutorials later as I'm in the process of silver leafing a dresser and making an ottoman out of a washtub.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." -Albert Einstein
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« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2012 01:34:07 PM »

Cool item. I love the practicality. Anyone can find something like this at a yard sale and easily find these tools themselves. It looks wonderful and your tute was easy to follow along. Thank you!

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Ruffles and Pearls... and Anthropologie Delights

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« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2012 07:11:17 AM »

I'm glad it was easy to follow along (sometimes things make sense in my head but become incoherent when I try to put them to words) -- and I definitely recommend doing this... it was a fun, easy project... not the quickest due to drying times and having to clamp things down... but worth it.

People that have come to my house since have commented on that table and asked me where I got it... and it can take a table with such a cheap looking top (that top was horrid and only maybe 1/2 inch thick... if that) and make it look way more expensive.

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