Attach all four legs and set the top on the base with equal overhang on all sides. Carefully trace the leg tops on the bottom side of the planks and then flip it over onto a work surface. Drill a 1/2” hole with each square mark near the line but not touching it. Using a jigsaw, carefully cut out each square. Because leg tops will nest snuggly in these squares, be sure cuts are slightly undersized. Flip the top back over and attempt to set it on the base. Using a flat wood file and chisel, remove small amounts of material as needed. Once the top nestles down on the gutter structure without excess force, run a small bead of wood glue on the top edges of the gutter, reposition the top and shoot 15-gauge finish nails through the inside edge of the gutter into the bottom of the tabletop. Fill in small gaps between the leg top and table planks with wood filler or small wood shims.

Building a table is one of the most deceptively simple woodworking projects going. What could be easier than gluing up a few boards and applying a finish, right? But reality is often surprising, because building a top for that table can go wrong in ways you might not realize until it’s too late.  Here are my favourite tabletop construction tips, plus advice on how to avoid trouble.