I’m really excited to finally share this project, because I’ve been working on it bit by bit for weeks! This is my butcher bock coffee table…weeeeee!
I wanted to make a coffee table to replace the painted trunk we’ve been using for years. Back when we lived in a super small one-bedroom apartment, we desperately needed all the extra storage space we could get. But now that we’re livin large in a two-bedroom apartment, we can afford to lose the trunk space for a real coffee table.
Instead of making a more traditional butcher block design that incorporates boards with many different lengths, I chose to keep my boards the same length. Props to those who are edge gluing width-wise and length-wise. I also chose amazing black steel a-frame leg that I purchased here from the ECon Welding Etsy shop.
Here’s what you need to make a butcher block coffee table like mine:
- 12 pieces of pine measuring 2 in x 2 in x 4 ft (I bought 6 8-foot pieces and had them cut in half)
- Rust-Oleum wood stain in Kona and a finish of your choice (I used Minwax polyurethane in semi-gloss)
- Chip brushes (optional: foam roller for the wood stain)
- Liquid Nails Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive
- Sander with 100-grit sandpaper and one piece of fine sandpaper (I used 220-grit)
- A variety of clamps in sizes based on how big your table is
- Skill saw (browse various here)
- Legs of your choice
- Optional: Wood planer or hand planer
And here’s how I made mine!
(Remember to wear a mask and eye protection while sanding and working with wood, and wear an appropriate mask while working with paints, stains, and finishes. Follow the directions and warnings from your particular brand. Do not use any tools without proper training, precautions, and supervision.)
Step 1: Edge glue the boards together using Liquid Nails and a variety of clamps. Squirt a line of glue along each board and press the boards together. Then, apply pressure using bar clamps.
(See my tips for edge gluing wood boards together here!)
In addition to applying horizontal pressure, you’ll want to apply vertical pressure. The picture below shows the right two boards popping up slightly. Adding vertical pressure using C-clamps fixed this problem really easily. I just put a piece of scrap wood covered in painters tape between the glued boards and the clamp. I used painters tape because I wanted to be able to safely remove the clamp and board when the glue dried, and the tape made that very easy.
I completed the edge gluing in several sections. First I clamped a set of 4 boards and a set of 3 boards. Then, when those sets dried, I added additional boards to each set until I had a set of 7 boards and a set of 5 boards.
Here is a progress photo:
As you’re clamping, make sure to protect the wood from indentations; you can do so using paint stirrers cut into pieces. Below, left photo illustrates what can happen to your wood if you don’t project it. Below, right photo illustrates how to protect it!
Step 2: After I had 2 sets of boards (1 set of 7 and 1 set of 5), we ran each set through a planer. I would have finished the table and run the entire thing through the planer, but as you can see below, the planer isn’t wide enough.
The pic below shows the section of 7 boards planed and the section of 5 boards while it’s still clamped and drying.
And here they are both planed!
Step 3: The most exciting part…joining the two sets of boards together to make a table top! Do so using the same method you’ve used to glue your other boards. Having a second set of hands for this was really helpful! (Thanks, dad!)
Step 4: When your final glued edge dries, draw a straight line along the table’s jagged ends and use a skill saw to cut an even edge.
Since this was a free-hand cut, we clamped a straight board to the table top to use as a guide for the saw (below, center and right photos).
We unfortunately did have a bit of splitting occur on one end of the table. We were able to cut off most of it when we straightened out the edges, but we lost about 6 inches total. That was a bummer, but we were working with imperfect wood, so it wasn’t completely unexpected. We could have avoided this by planing each individual piece before edge gluing them together. I’m still happy with the result!
That’s me in my work dress. I forgot a change of clothes. Oops.
Then I sanded down the entire top using 100-grit sandpaper. There were a few bumps and bad spots that needed evening out. I also slightly rounded all edges and corners and finished the piece off by polishing it with 220-grit sandpaper.
Step 5: I stained my table top using one coat of Rust-Oleum wood stain in Kona. I used a mini foam roller that my dad was planning to throw out. It made the job really quick and easy. Remember to wipe the excess stain off using a rag.
Step 6: After the stain had dried completely, I gave it three coats of Minwax fast-drying polyurethane in semi-gloss, sanding lightly with 220-grit sandpaper between each coat. Also make sure to wipe the piece down using tack cloth between each coat; doing so removes tiny debris to ensure a smooth, blemish-free finish.
Here it is with the first coat going on…
And the full first coat (dry) and second coat (just went on, so still wet)…
Step 7: Once the final coat dries, the hard part is done. I chose to use a black steel A-frame leg that I purchased here from the ECon Welding Etsy shop! They came with holes in the legs, so all we needed to do was drill the legs on.
And here is the final table! I LOVE IT!
Check out my post on tips for edge gluing wood boards together here.
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