Table Construction Notes

August 3, 2010

This is mainly for my own reference in case I have to build more of these, but I thought I’d post them in case anyone else was curious.

Our objective was to have 7 round tables 4′ in diameter that could hold our supply bucket (Sterilite 1713) and our trash bucket (Sterilite 1892 N2, no lid). We decided to make the tables out of melamine-laminated particle board because it would match our room and we wouldn’t have to do any finishing to the top to “student-proof” it.

I started out with one 4’x8′ sheet of melamine particle board and had Home Depot cut it into two halves. I then drew diagonals so I could find the center of the “square” (actually, it turned out to be 49.25″ x 48″).
I used my nail punch to mark the center so I could drill a 9/64″ pilot hole.
Next, I used a trammel for my router that I had made and my (wonderfully incredible) 1/4″ carbide “up-cut” straight bit. I had to buy some additional 5mm screws to fasten the trammel to my router, and I discovered that it was a good idea to keep my extra “pin finder” around to keep track of the two sets of screws.
While it is possible to cut all the way through in one pass, it is much better (and safer) to make two passes. Be prepared for a lot of sawdust!
The completed circle!
Next, I marked the positions for the four “heavy-duty top plates” that attach the legs to the table. The narrow end of each plate is on the diagonal, 1-1/2″ from the edge. At this time, I also marked the diagonal positions on the side of the circle, so that I would later be able to transfer the diagonals to the top of the table.
I then used my nail punch to mark the holes for the screws and the center hole for all the top plates. Make sure all four top plates are the same model before doing this step!
To make the pilot holes, I kept the 9/64″ bit in my drill and used masking tape to mark the depth. After drilling all of the pilot holes for the screws, I switched to a 7/32″ bit and made a shallow hole in the center where the hanger bolt will go.
I then switched over to a screw bit to drive all of the screws. The underside of the table is now done!
The next step was to flip the circle and transfer the diagonal marks from the sides to the top. I then drew a line along one diagonal and used the other diagonal to mark the center of the line. The bucket patterns are placed 16-1/2″ on center, which means that the outside edge of each pattern is 8-1/4″ from the center. The supply bucket pattern should be drawn, then flipped so that both ends have a rounded-edge rectangle and a smaller rectangle on the ends.
To cut out the patterns, I first cut pilot holes using a 3/4″ spade bit and then used my jigsaw to cut out the shapes. On the supply bucket, I only cut out the rounded-corner rectangle at this time.
Back to the router, which now had the rabbet bit. For the trash bucket, I used the 7/16″ bearing to a depth of 1/4″. For the supply bucket, I used the 5/16″ bearing to a depth of 11/32″. Again, it is much easier to do two (or more) shallow passes instead of one deeper pass.
Now, I could cut out the openings for the supply bucket handles. Next, I suspended the top between the sawhorses so that I could apply the edge banding. Notice that I have used a scrap 2×2 as a spindle to dispense the edge banding. It also turned out that it was easier on the openings to turn it from that side as I worked my way around the circle.
For the legs, I eventually ended up using 2x4s cut 28″ long. I marked the center of one end, and drilled a 1/4″ pilot hole for the 5/16″x2″ hanger bolts. To install them, I used the trick from the Rockler site of taking two 5/16″ hex bolts and screwing them against each other. That gave me a “handle” that I could use my ratchet against to screw it into the 2×4. We then primed them and painted them a black semi-gloss.
Behold, the completed table! Group Table
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