If you like fun, customized tabletops, DIY is the way to go.  Why settle for the same plain, boring table everybody has in their dining room when you can make it the centerpiece of your home?  Maybe you’ve got old furniture that could use a facelift, or you need to update a table that was broken.  In all of these cases, there are so many options available to create a one-of-a-kind tabletop you’ll love.  Whether that includes learning how to laminate wood pieces together, stenciling, painting, staining or transferring images, or using more unique materials like fabric or epoxy, there is a DIY tabletop idea here for you!

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A layout square, or combination square, comes in 6” and 12” sizes. Most woodworkers use the 6” model, simply because it’s easiest to carry around. Also, most of the stock you’ll use will be no bigger than 6” wide, so 12” is overkill. The layout square is a triangle that you can use to mark square cuts on stock. Once you measure the length of the cut, you line up the layout square with the edge of the board. The short side will give you a straight, square cut across the end grain. You can also measure off angles with the layout square. This helps when you’re trying to measure for a bevel on a table saw, or marking a cut for a miter saw. You can even use your layout square to determine an existing angle. Just be sure to buy one made of metal. The plastic ones are not only fragile, but they also can warp, making them pretty useless.

To save money, we keep the temp in our shop down low when we’re not in it and crank up the heat when we return. But even when the air temperature hits 70 degrees F, the concrete floor is still Minnesota-cold. We tried a space heater under the bench, but it broiled the shins and still left us with cold feet. So we recently bought a foot-warming mat, and now our feet stay toasty warm. Plus, it uses a fraction of the electricity and is a lot safer than a space heater. The mat is produced by Cozy Products. The good folks over at Cozy suggest putting a chunk of cardboard underneath it if you use it on flooring that could fade from the heat, like carpet or wood.
This time I surprised one of my favorite dice games and took it outside. I made a set of wooden dice in just a few hours, and instead of sitting in the room and doing nothing, we are taking our dice game out into the yard. With this set of wooden dice, dice games are becoming our favorite backyard game. Check out the step by step tutorial below so you can make your own.
The next hand tool every woodworker should have is a nail set. In fact, you should have several sizes. They look like awls, and you use them to drive nail heads into the wood so they are flush or right below the surface. This allows you to fill the holes and prepare for staining or painting. The nail setter will usually have either a convex or concave surface to grip the nail better and keep it from sliding off and marring the wood.
I’ve been toying with the idea of building a new table top. The legs of my dining table are hardwood. But the table top is not; it’s covered in veneer which is coming off in strips. I thought of removing the table top completely and utilizing the existing legs with a newly built hardwood top. But you’re solution seems easier! However, my tabletop is much thicker than yours, a 1 x 1 inch lip would not suffice. Can I just adjust the size of the lip, 1 x 2 inch? Or do I have to adjust the size of all boards used? Thanks!
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Hi Mitchell – Thank you for the heads up… I thought I mentioned that in that in the post, but you’re right, I didn’t. Yes, wood expands across its width, so in order to allow for expansion/contraction there should be a small gap where the edges of the boards meet the apron. You don’t need a gap where the ends of the board meet the apron because wood doesn’t really expand/contract in this direction.
Verdict : Ted’s product is EXTREMELY extensive with 16k plans and there are tons of projects to choose from. Not every woodworker online loves it, but it’s cheap and perfect for every level of experience, I love it because this is basically the only resource I need. I highly suggest it. They also offer a really solid money back guarantee if you don’t like it after all.
Probably the next most useful shop accessory is a large work table. I like to use a portable table that can be moved around the shop as needed. This particular table, which you can build by clicking on the link above, is lightweight yet sturdy and has retractable casters. When you want to move the table, simply lift each end and the casters lock into place to allow the table to roll. Once you get it into position, pull the cord on each end and the casters retract, so the table won't move.
What makes this JCB Teleskid machine unique is it’s one-of-a-kind telescoping boom, which gives it the ability to reach a variety of places. The Teleskid’s telescoping boom gives you eight feet of outward reach. Plus, its one armed design gives you 60 percent more visibility than similar twin-armed machines. With a fully extended boom the Teleskid can lift up to 1600 pounds. With the boom retracted that weight capacity goes up to an impressive 3695 pounds. To find out more about the Teleskid from JCB, click here.
We cut the supports 16 in. long, but you can place the second shelf at whatever height you like. Screw the end supports to the walls at each end. Use drywall anchors if you can’t hit a stud. Then mark the position of the middle supports onto the top and bottom shelves with a square and drill 5/32-in. clearance holes through the shelves. Drive 1-5/8-in. screws through the shelf into the supports. You can apply this same concept to garage storage. See how to build double-decker garage storage shelves here.
The most commonly purchased claw hammer is the 20 oz. size. It’s heavy enough to easily drive nails but easily manipulated when pulling nails. While wooden handles are picturesque, they may not stand up to the strain if you have to pull a lot of nails. Hammers with a steel handle, or even fiberglass, will be stronger. However, these won’t absorb the vibrations from driving nails the way a hickory handle will. You’ll also need to make sure the fiberglass and metal handles have a rubberized grip for control and comfort. If you’re going to be driving a lot of nails, the wooden handled hammer will be better for reducing stress on your hand, and wrist, too.
Thermal imaging systems work great at finding water leaks, electrical hot spots, and insulation gaps in walls. But until recently, thermal imaging systems were not a practical tool for the average contractor because they cost thousands of dollars and were the size of a microwave oven. But now this extremely helpful technology is accessible. FLIR’s new C2 compact imager is pocket-size but has most of the same important features as larger models. The touch screen controls are intuitive to use, and it acts as a regular camera as well, which helps when pointing out to homeowners or coworkers where exactly the trouble spots are. They also make models that work with your smartphone.
Drill four 5/8-in.-dia. 1/2-in.-deep holes on the large disc?inside the traced circle?then use 5/8-in. dowel centers to transfer the hole locations to the underside of the small disc. Drill four 1/2-in.-deep holes on the underside of the small disc and a 1/2-in.-deep hole in the center of the top for the dowel handle. Glue in the dowels to join the discs, and glue in the handle. We drilled a wood ball for a handle knob, but a screw-on ceramic knob also provides a comfortable, attractive grip.
Behind every great woodworking piece is a great woodworking plan. Even the classic furniture makers of the 18th and 19th centuries worked from detailed precision drawn plans. This is how we are able to make such genuine looking reproductions of the works of the famous furniture makers of old; the master woodworker’s plans are still extant. Many different styles and designs are available, from all different periods in history, to modern designs from this century. Working with the right woodworking tools a skilled woodworker can make any piece of furniture; however fancy the detail is, if he has an accurate woodworking plan to work from. Once you have reached a certain skill level in your woodworking techniques, you will be able to create a masterpiece which can be handed down through your family for future generations.
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By posting on this site and forum, the poster grants to Canadian Woodworking Magazine/Website the unrestricted rights to use of the content of the post for any purpose, including, but not limited to, publishing the posted material, including images, in print or electronic form in a future issue or issues of Canadian Woodworking magazine or related Canadian Woodworking products, and to use the post for promotional purposes without further compensation, as well as the right to use the poster's name in a credit along with the post.
What makes this JCB Teleskid machine unique is it’s one-of-a-kind telescoping boom, which gives it the ability to reach a variety of places. The Teleskid’s telescoping boom gives you eight feet of outward reach. Plus, its one armed design gives you 60 percent more visibility than similar twin-armed machines. With a fully extended boom the Teleskid can lift up to 1600 pounds. With the boom retracted that weight capacity goes up to an impressive 3695 pounds. To find out more about the Teleskid from JCB, click here.
Turning over the sturdy tabletop, I felt a thrill of vindication. Clearly, it wasn’t a mistake in the end to use all three stains for the same project. Before I could consider the job done, though, I would need to apply sealer—Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane—to protect the wood from moisture, UV rays, and the wear and tear of day-to-day life. This was my first time experimenting with a spray-application sealer, and I loved it. Obviously, it’s important to have proper ventilation in your work area, and you’ve got to shake the can vigorously before spraying, but so long as you remember the basics, spraying couldn’t be more straightforward. Holding the Helmsman Spar Urethane can about a foot from the surface, spray in a series of even strokes, always in the same direction, until you’ve completed the first coat. Let the sealer dry for about four hours before applying any additional coats, and for best results, sand the entire surface before each application of a new layer.
If your skill level is not yet high enough to tackle a difficult design, you need to get more practice by doing more basic designs, which teach you the techniques you will need for the harder jobs. It is rightfully said practice makes man perfect and you should do lot of practice to master this skill.

Here’s an old woodworking adage I enjoy ignoring: “measure twice, cut once.” Honestly, I measure nonce and cut thrice. I often eyeball it. I use pieces I’ve already cut to measure what I need to cut. It’s not a great habit, but I prefer it to measuring everything. And the results usually aren’t that different. At least that’s what I tell myself. I ended up having to sand down the ends of the 2×12’s running the length of the table (where they meet the aprons) because they weren’t exactly the same length.


A heavy-duty hardened steel chain with hexagonal links will thwart nearly every thief with a bolt cutter. Hexagonal links (or square or trapezoidal) make it impossible for bolt cutters to get a grip. You may be tempted to buy chain by the foot at the hardware store, but it’s designed for lifting and towing, not theft resistance. Even the thick stuff is likely to have round links, and frankly, if a hardware store clerk can cut the chain easily, a thief can too.

Be sure wood is dry. Material from a job site or floor joists that existed in a crawlspace may have high moisture content; material from a conditioned space should be dry. Wood can be dried in a kiln (ask your local lumber mill) or stored inside through the winter. If time does not permit, stack wood in a hot dry place with 1" spacers between layers. Allow to dry for a minimum of two weeks.


Okay, let’s stain this beast. I should explain that we used Rustoleum’s Dark Walnut Ultimate Wood Stain, but we did it wrong. We failed to mix it well before applying it, resulting in a color we really liked–but not the color this stain is designed to create. When we came back to do a second coat, we stirred it well, resulting in a coat that looked like purple paint. I had to sand it off and start over. So, don’t follow my lead here–follow the can’s directions and TEST before staining all of your new masterpiece!
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