A few months ago I told my wife I’d build us a proper dining room table so we can stop eating off TV trays. We had a nice 5 panel door leftover from our remodel (a two year odyssey) that seemed like a good candidate for a table top. All I would need to do is make legs. We decided on floor seating and my mom made cushions for us over the winter holidays. Now here it is February and I finally got around to building the thing.
Let me offer a disclaimer. I am not a fabricator at Eco Relics. Doug, Kris, and Billy build the custom projects for Eco Relics. My work is not up to their level. Not by a long shot. I am just a weekend DIYer who loves to hoard scrap for the next project. The objective here is just to generate some ideas about what can be done with scrap.
Tools and Materials
The door will be the table top and the legs are made from pieces of scrap old-growth pine 1×6 and trim saved from the last few projects. The pine is old enough to measure out at 5 1/2″ instead of 5 1/4″. I used a miter saw for most cuts, but a circular saw or a table saw would also do fine. Corner clamps are very helpful for putting the legs together. Other usual suspects include drill, tape measure, wood glue, brad gun, and a few assorted hand tools.
First, I measured how tall the legs would need to be to allow decent knee-clearance. I’m sitting on one of the cushions we’ll use with the table. About 13″ should do it. Next, I cut 8 pieces of scrap 1×6 @ 13″, making sure they are all exactly the same length.
Now I cut one long edge of each leg at a 45 degree angle. My great-grandfather’s table saw would have been ideal here, but I have recently been having trouble getting exact angles set up on it. The old girl don’t move like she used to. Maybe time for a refurb? Anyway, I made the miter cut with the chop saw but wound up about an inch short of completing the cut, so I finished with a hand saw, a chisel, and a rasp.
Cutting a taper on the legs is next. Make sure to cut the taper on the left side of the miter on four legs and cut the taper on the right side of the miter on the other four legs. I cut one, then used it as a template to mark the others. After cutting the taper on all 8 legs, I sanded all of the faces and edges EXCEPT the 45 degree mitered edge. The pieces will fit together better if the edge of the miter remains sharp.
Now the left and right pieces are joined together and 8 pieces become 4 legs. I glued and pinned them first (photo #2, opening the glued-shut glue), then added braces in the next step. Once the glue is spread all over the edge and the pieces have been assembled in a corner clamp, then use the brad gun to shoot some brads in. My dad said, “You’ll never get those 1″ brads all the way in that old-growth pine.” He was right. I had to finish them off with a hammer and punch. Let the glue dry overnight before continuing.
Next, the legs get strengthened with a triangle brace at the top. This will also provide a surface to attach the legs to the underside of the top. I cut the braces out of the scrap from the taper cuts. The brace is glued and screwed flush (or even a little proud) with the top of the legs. The brace must meet flush with the underside of the top so it can be firmly attached.
Covering those screw heads with trim adds another dimension to the legs. I used pieces of window stop leftover from another project. The miter saw makes easy work of it. I cut four pieces for each leg: two long ones and two shorties to wrap the side. Attach trim with brads or finish nails and the fasteners will disappear under a coat of paint. With the trim attached, I added a second brace to the bottom of the leg. This is a piece of 2×2 glued and pinned to the bottom of the leg, but shy of the edge by about 1″. The second brace should help prevent shearing forces from tearing the two pieces apart. Adding felt to the bottom of each leg will help as well. The taper is also designed to reduce friction if the table is bumped.
Once the glue dries, all that is left is painting and attaching the legs. I used leftover oil paint from another project for a durable finish. The legs are attached with three screws each through the triangle brace and into the underside of the door. I will live with the recessed panels for now, but if the table top needs to be flat then the panels can be filled with clear epoxy resin.
I hope you enjoyed peeking in on my little scrap project. The legs could be scaled up or down if you want to use a similar design for your own project. There are certainly easier (and probably prettier) ways to make table legs. This is just what I came up with while reducing my scrap pile. What do you do with your scraps? Share your work with us and we’ll feature it in an upcoming post!