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.
This is a very colorful and fun project. The idea is to use an old table with a top that you don’t really like and to give it a makeover. You don’t need paint for this project, just a lot of colored tape. Use it to make stripes to cover the entire surface of the tabletop. You can also wrap the edges in tape. You can also cover it with lacquer or add plexiglass on top to protect the design.
If you want your table top -- any table top -- to actually ast without bowing/cupping/twisting, you MUST attach it in a manner that allows for seasonal wood movement. Wood is an organic product, and it naturally expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity. I'll post link below to a couple of options that you can cheaply buy which will allow you to securely attach a tabletop while still giving the wood the flexibility to move with the seasons. When you buy decently-made furniture at a store, they all accommodate for this one way or another. Don't just screw the top down to the legs or the skirt...you'll regret it later on.
Here’s another example of a stenciled tabletop.  Remarkably, this table was destined for the dump when Pretty Handy Girl pulled it from a dumpster.  With a stencil, primer and paint, some distressing, glazing and sealing, she gave this beauty a second life – one in which it looks like it came directly from old world Scandinavia. // Pretty Handy Girl
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.
Look at the amazing masterpiece Domestic Imperfection made out of her plain Jane dining table!  Using a stencil and white paint, you can create this design or similar, then tone it down and make it look slightly aged by staining the wood right over the top of the painted design!  Very clever stenciled and stained table redo. // Domestic Imperfection
Rolled-on poly looks terrible at first, but the bubbles disappear in minutes, leaving a smoother surface than most of us can achieve with a brush. Beware of ridges formed by the edges of the roller and humps where you start and stop. You can minimize both of those flaws by applying lighter coats. We experimented with several kinds of rollers and got the best results with microfiber mini rollers. We also tried rolling on water-based poly; don’t do it.

If you don’t intend to finish the wood, you can probably safely skip this step. But for me, it was crucial to sand each board, not only to ensure a level tabletop, but also to give the stain a surface to which it could easily adhere. Of course, no matter how much sanding you do, some woods (2x4s included) are not milled for finish work and may never get totally smooth. But that was fine with me, as I figured that any imperfections that remained in the end would work to underline the rustic quality of the piece. It was in that same spirit that, in the process of sanding the boards (with fine-grit paper, always in the same direction), I opted not to sand down a few of the chatter marks left by the sawmill. I knew the stain would take to the wood a bit differently in those spots than elsewhere, lending the tabletop a further layer of charm—or so I hoped. Once I was done sanding, after thoroughly cleaning each board with a moist tack cloth, I let enough time pass for the wood to dry out completely.


Simply brilliant. Why didn’t I think of this? So we have a nearly 100 year old house. There is always something that needs repair. Thanks to whoever invented this little guy! No more mouth full of nails or screws. No more climbing up and down the ladder to get the damn screwdriver I dropped. Probably won’t hold your 16 oz claw hammer but other than that it is perfect. I love this. Highly recommend. Thanks for reading
We no longer have that problem because we picked up a set of Mag Shims from FastCap. Mag Shims are 1/8-in. magnetic spacers. If you need a blade height of 7/8 in., simply stack seven spacers, and raise the blade to match. They also work great for setting the depth on router bits and drill presses. We stick them right to the backside of the fence, so they’re always at hand and never get lost.
Clamp curved caul edges inwards so they align tabletop boards in the middle, then torque up the main clamps to draw the boards together. If the width of boards you’re using allow it, pre-glue boards for your tabletop in sections that are just narrow enough to fit within your thickness planer. Run these through the planer to clean and level the glue joints, then move back to clamps for final glue up. Working in stages like this reduces the number of glue joints you need to sand smooth and level later.

Let’s start with perhaps the most basic tool in every household – the claw hammer. The claw on one side of the head should be well counterbalanced by the finished head, which should be somewhat rounded. The other kind of head is the waffle-head. Most commonly used in construction, it leaves a distinctive waffle mark on the wood when you drive the nail. This, of course, is not the proper nail for woodworking.


This is a very colorful and fun project. The idea is to use an old table with a top that you don’t really like and to give it a makeover. You don’t need paint for this project, just a lot of colored tape. Use it to make stripes to cover the entire surface of the tabletop. You can also wrap the edges in tape. You can also cover it with lacquer or add plexiglass on top to protect the design.

Even a small tabletop presents a challenge if the boards you glued together  have stepped-shaped misalignments where they meet because of warping. Yes, you can sand these off, but the more topographical sanding you need to do, the less flat and regular your finished tabletop will be. The flatter and better aligned your boards are when they’re in the clamps, the happier you’ll be later. This is where end clamps and gluing cauls can help.
Online packages also allow you to build at a convenient pace, whether you want to build one bench per week or want to try every new furniture plan available – and more importantly, the use of clear instructions will enable you to build under a comfortable environment without any pressure. That way, you do not face disappointment that you would otherwise experience if you buy hard-to-understand furniture plans or can’t find the specific project that you’re looking for. If you think that a plan outline is simple, you can find a more difficult one and begin practicing new skills and techniques. That way, you are able to build more things faster than if you bought each plan individually and had to search for it each time.

The end grain of wood soaks up finishes and often turns much darker than the face grain. Check for this on your test block. If you get an ugly result, pretreat the end grain with a dose of finish that will limit absorption (wood conditioner, sanding sealer, shellac or polyurethane thinned 50 percent). Apply the treatment with an artist’s brush and be careful not to slop onto the face grain.


With a pencil and a protractor, divide the larger disc into 30-degree wedges to create 12 center lines for the bottle indents. Center and trace the smaller disc on top of the larger disc. Next, with a drill press, drill 3/8-in.-deep holes on the 12 center lines with the 1-7/8-in. Forstner bit, spacing them between the disc’s outer edge and the traced circle. Next, divide the smaller disc into 60-degree wedges and drill six more 3/8-in.-deep holes with the Forstner bit.
Up to now, I had been completely focused on the upward-facing portion of the tabletop, the side that would be most visible. But as I drew nearer to the finish line, I started to doubt my earlier decision not to finish the bottom side too. So I went back and did the extra work, and though this additional step might have been unnecessary, I like to think it helped make the table fit better into its home for the summer, my front porch. All that was left now was to attach the top to the metal table. As easy as it was to finish the tabletop with Minwax, it was no mean feat to devise a way of securing the top to the base. Ultimately, the answer to my problem came in an unlikely form. On a typical day, electrical cable hardware would never have entered my mind, but as the result of a funny twist of fate—the same sort of coincidence that led me to undertake this project in the first place—these simple snap-and-click fasteners enabled me to attach the top to the base and call it day. Now, with this project under my belt, I’m starting to eye those 2x6s still lingering in my scrap pile!
Screwdrivers are another must-have in the woodworker’s set of hand tools. Not only will you need Phillips and slot, or flathead screwdrivers, you’ll need star drivers and Torx drivers, too. A quality construction is vital to a good set of screwdrivers. So many of them are made out of soft metal, and the first time you put any “oomph” behind them, they strip out, becoming absolutely useless.
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