There are lots of clear finishes. But for a combination of usability and durability, you can’t beat polyurethane. Oil-based poly, which dries slower than water-based, is best for beginners because it allows more working time. The other important difference is clarity: Water-based poly is absolutely colorless, while oil-based has an amber tone, which can be good or bad depending on the look you want.
The table tops are double-sided – two for one! – and are 2 feet square. The cost of the project will vary based on items you might already have but the biggest expense is the wood at about $25 – that’s $12.50 per “table” – not too shabby at all, especially when you think about the alternative of actually buying an entire table. Or the gigantic house you’d need to store all that extra furniture!
Now that you have the final dimensions for the table top, you need to choose which boards you want to use.  Because we don't have a table saw and we wanted to keep this project simple and not cut any boards lengthwise, we {and by we, I mean my husband} plugged and chugged different board sizes into his calculator to find the perfect equation. We ended up using seven 1x6 boards for the width and on the two end caps we used 1x8's. Remember, a 1x6 is not six inches wide, it's five and a half, and a 1x8 is seven and a quarter inches wide. When you are doing your math to figure out what boards you need, remember that the nominal size {1x4, 1x6, 1x8, etc} is not the actual measured dimension of the board.
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