X Base Table: Start to Finish
July 13, 2012
Y’all saw the table we built for our home and in honor of the Pinterest Challenge earlier this week. It was worthy of its very own post, so here is the step-by-step on how we built this rustic dark X base table by hand in a custom size.
We made a few modifications to suit our smaller space and personal taste, including using less pieces, incorporating a hefty 4” x 4” middle post instead of two 2” x 4”s, and using only a single brace at the top due to the smaller size.
Here’s how we started:
First, we visited a local lumber supply company in search of kiln dried wood since it’s better quality (we chose Douglas Fir for the grain.) We paid more for it, close to $150, but we reasoned it’s a table we’d own for many years so it was worth it.
Once we were home, Matt measured the width of the table to begin the cuts. We laid the three table top boards down and measured their width, cutting the four base pieces first, and Matt also tapered the edges with the compound miter saw.
Once those four cuts were done, we measured to mark the middle section of the top and bottom to center the 4” x 4” post.
Instead of building the X leg first, we secured the base to the 4” x 4” post first drilling pilot holes and securing with wood screws. The legs were secured to the table top the same way (again, pilot holes and wood screws).
To make the “X” we first used cheap scrap 2’ x 4’ wood to figure out the perfect the angle on the compound miter saw, then once we found it, Matt made the cuts for the eight pieces with the Douglas fir to form the “X” on each side.
We mapped out the “X” on the ground to double check all the cuts were correct.
Because we chose the 4’ x 4’ center post, we couldn’t use big screws to secure the “X” (even the Kreg jig was awkward) so instead we opted for long skinny nails – they mostly disappeared into the wood and any visible nail heads add to the rustic appeal.
We used clamps to hold the mini feet in place, and screwed them to the main base of the leg.
The last step was adding a brace to the underside of the table to stabilize the legs, drilling pilot holes first then screwing the brace into the table top.
We turned it over and ta-dah! Our first handmade piece of furniture! Awesome.
The next day I made a trip to my local True Value for a new brush and new stain. This time I went with Minwax ‘Special Walnut’. (Make sure you sample your stain on a scrap piece of wood first!)
Before I began, I spent half an hour sanding the entire table with my orbital to get it super smooth. We thought about going with the distressed look and actually dinging it up with dents and scratches, etc. but in the end decided to keep it smooth since we loved the grain of the wood, those stripes are amazing! I smoothed out all the corners, rounded all the edges, and the sanded the top to prepare it for stain.
Once you sand, be sure to vacuum all the sawdust residue, I use my handheld Oreck and its brush contraption, works perfectly!
The next step is pre-stain wood conditioner, I’ve used this ever since I learned all about staining wood and I definitely recommend it to help prevent blotchy stain absorption.
Next came the wood stain, and it took three separate coats to get it as dark as I wanted it, allowing to dry 6 hours between coats.
Handy tip: wrap your oil based stain soaked brush in a plastic bag and place it in the fridge while you wait for your coats of stain to dry, then you won’t have to clean it with mineral spirits until you’re done with the project.
I decided at the very end to NOT use Polyurethane and instead protect the stain with Dark Wax (not pictured) for a more subtle sheen and I’m glad I did. It takes several hours for the dark wax to dry but after three coats applied with a cotton rag I was satisfied with the darker finish and a less shiny surface than you’d get with a Poly coating.
Dark paste wax can be harder to find than clear wax, but Howard’s makes a Walnut version, and there is also Minwax Dark Paste Wax, both available online if you can’t find them locally. I had some of the Annie Sloan version in my stash, so that’s what I used.
And that’s how we ended up with this gorgeous handmade table for our home!
We’re stoked that it turned out so beautifully, and now I’ve already drawn up some plans for that potting bench we’ve been talking about all these years… now that we’ve flexed our “furniture building from scratch” muscles, we’re hoping to tackle that garden project soon. :) Stay tuned for more pics from this space as it gets a new look!
True Value Blog Squad legalese: “I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as my writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.”
Have a great weekend everyone!