20 Table Projects That Anyone Can Tackle
Pull up a chair and pull out your toolbox, and build your own heirloom piece of furniture—dining tables, nightstands, outdoor sets, and more.
A table can be the heart of the kitchen, the indispensable spot where homework gets done, or even just the handy perch for a cup of tea when you curl up with a good book. But any table is little more than a flat surface and some legs. With just those components from a few great sources (along with a drill and a handful of screws), you can easily construct one table—or more—to suit your home's needs.
When assembling a table, consider our guide to heights: For a nightstand or side table, the surface should be even with or just above a mattress or sofa chair arm. For a table that's a work-from-home desk, most are 28 to 30 inches high; subtract surface thickness when ordering legs. If making an island table or workstation from a countertop, aim for 36 to 39 inches. And for a bench, build 17 to 19 inches high (a comfortable depth is 16 inches or greater). Online sources sell table legs of various styles and heights. Here are some of our favorites: hairpin (these metal legs can skew industrial or modern), unfinished wood (available in an array of types), stainless steel (column legs make any coffee or side table look contemporary), or tapered (these have a classic midcentury shape).
If you have an existing table, consider the function and how to improve on it. As pictured here, for instance, revitalize a scruffy tabletop by adding a leather surface. Putty and sand any ridges or bumps in the table; the leather should hide pits and scratches. All of these projects use simple tools and materials from the hardware store, and can be tailored to your home.
Brass-Leg Side Table
Marble and brass give this table a luxe and modern look: The marble top is an affordable floor tile from a home center and brass-finished hairpin legs are available online. Start by squeezing adhesive onto plywood and spread it around with putty knife; place the floor tile on top, aligning the edges exactly. Weigh it down with a stack of books and let dry overnight. With utility knife, cut four brass strips and use them to wrap the edges.
Waxed-Canvas Coffee Table
You can give an older table new life while creating a spiffy surface for books and board games. Stretch easy-to-wipe waxed canvas around its top; you don't need special upholstering skills—just a staple gun and a little patience. (The trick to a neat finish is folding 90-degree hotel corners.) Tap in upholstery tacks to secure the fabric, and polish off a sophisticated place to play.
To get a spacious desk for a song, lay a hollow-core door across two sawhorses. Coat them all with scuff-resistant high-gloss paint, and the sleek factor skyrockets. (We used Benjamin Moore's Trout Gray.)
Glass Tile Table
We traded the original inset glass top of an inexpensive side table for a creamy custom- tiled one: Have a piece of wood cut to fit, then spread on thin-set mortar to adhere glass tiles to it. (Trim the tiles to fit at the edges with a glass cutter, if needed.) Then use a rubber float to fill in the cracks between tiles with stain-resistant grout. Wipe away the excess with a sponge or rag, and let it dry completely.
Low Coffee Table
This table will make a great addition to any living room and offer the perfect surface for all of your favorite reads. Sand everything down to soften all hard edges of plywood. Dilute the paint by combining two-parts water and one-part paint. Then brush a coat onto the plywood tabletop (all sides), cleats, and table legs; let dry. With a dust-free cloth, apply wax to all surfaces by rubbing it in (it's okay if it looks streaky and slightly inconsistent). Assemble your tabletop by centering the leg cleats widthwise six inches in from both ends, drilling pilot holes, repositioning the brackets and screwing them in. Lastly, screw in the legs.
Shop Now: McCobb Soft Maple Table Legs, 16", $18, tablelegs.com; Martha Stewart Crafts Vintage Décor Paint, in Beetle Black, $11.49, michaels.com; Martha Stewart Crafts Clear Vintage Décor Wax, $11.49, michaels.com.
Hairpin-Leg and Stainless-Top Table
You can easily make this elegant desk in less than half an hour with a stainless-steel top and colorful legs. Place the tabletop upside down on your work surface. Position a leg 1 inch from corner, being sure it is over solid-wood portion of tabletop; Use a pencil to mark screw-hole locations for all corners. Drill pilot holes into the tabletop, reposition the legs and screw in each one.
Stenciled Vintage Décor Nightstand
Give your nightstand that antique feel by adding a beautifully stenciled design to it. Start with your base color—you can use any combination of vintage décor paints—then lightly sand away the top coat. Add a stenciled design, then use the cotton cloth to apply wax to the desk to seal and protect the paint.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Crafts Blossoms Adhesive Stencils, $10, michaels.com; Martha Stewart Crafts Vintage Décor Paint, in Brook and Sailor Blue, $11.49, michaels.com; Martha Stewart Crafts Clear Vintage Décor Wax, $11.49, michaels.com.
Leaf-Embossed Tabletop Mold
The broad leaves of elephant's ear lend a breezy, tropical feel to this hypertufa tabletop. The greenery is arranged on a Plexiglas base before the mold is filled. Sand stirred into the mixture and a hidden layer of mesh supply the necessary reinforcement.
Whitewashed Dining Table
Our dining table for eight is made from wooden legs and an inexpensive slab door. Start by lightly sanding all surfaces of door, legs, and cleats. Dilute paint by combining two-parts water and one-part paint. brush onto door (all sides), cleats, and table legs. With a dust-free cloth, apply wax finish to all surfaces; rub in (it's okay if it looks streaky and slightly inconsistent). Then, reassemble the table
Shop Now: Jeld-Wen Solid-Core Slab Door, $55, homedepot.com; Martha Stewart Crafts Vintage Décor Paint, in Linen, $11.49, michaels.com; Martha Stewart Crafts Clear Vintage Décor Wax, $11.49, michaels.com.
Industrial Chic Table
This table has a piece of slate resting atop a frame made with half-inch copper pipe and fittings and secured with epoxy. Download our assembly plan and, following the front view of assembly plan, put together two sides of the base (the front view in the plan). Be sure all the pipes meet at 90-degree angles, then seal with epoxy. If you want to make two tables quickly, cut duplicates of each piece, and then assemble.
Marble End Table
This steel-legged DIY table adds some industrial cool to your home without ever opening a tool kit.
Moroccan Inlay Stenciled End Table
Lend a lovely bohemian touch to your nightstand using adhesives stencils. These laser-cut sheets can be used with a variety of paints, inks, and glitter.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Crafts Laser-Cut "Moroccan Inlay" Stencils, $9, michaels.com.
Create the perfect side table to be used indoors or outdoors, by upcycling a basic tray table, and incorporating cement and crushed colored glass to give it a fresh new look.
Rattan Side Table
In an upcycling idea, two unlikely items combine into a modern take on boho décor: a tray and planter. The former is natural wood, and the latter comes with curved edges and a caged base.
Summer Patio Table
Restore your outdoor furniture with a coat of spray paint in a decidedly modern black-and-white color palette. Plus, try our trick for achieving the table's scalloped edge.
Waterproof paint and water-resistant fabrics leave a sophisticated stamp on inexpensive pieces that can live outdoors. For the tables, apply spray adhesive to the unassembled tops and legs. Wrap each piece with cloth (we used coated-cotton polka dots and a vinyl plaid), then attach legs to the base.
Tree stumps, used individually or clustered together, function as low tables in a living room. A coat of enamel paint applied to the tops serves a dual purpose: It adds a jolt of color and creates a smooth, sealed surface.
Bentwood Chair Table
This movable end table hides clutter and can be wheeled off to wherever it's needed or stored away when it's not. Paint the basket and lid. Position two 1-by-2s, cut 2 inches shorter than basket's length, inside basket, 1 inch from each side. Align with the second pair—cut the same length, mitered at a 45-degree angle, and painted—placed on the underside. From inside the basket, join three layers with wood screws. Screw casters to supports on bottom of basket. If you plan to put heavy books or plants on top of the lid, it's a good idea to insert a wooden-lidded box inside the basket, flush with the rim, for additional support.
Iron garden tables from the mid-20th century are easy to find at flea markets, but they often look plain. Give one instant style with a fresh coat of paint in a sunny shade and easy-to-install caning (no weaving required). This is also a simple way to unify outdoor accent tables that have different designs.