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Office Side Table


I was asked to build a simple side table for one of the offices at church. They already had a desk, and needed a narrow side desk to go alongside the desk, to turn it into an L-shaped workstation.

The goal was to keep this simple, quick, and inexpensive.

This is the design that I came up with. I could get all I need to build this out of one sheet of plywood, with plenty left over. Well, that isn't quite true as I would also need some hardwood for edging. The required side table was quite long, so I wanted some fairly thick and tall edge banding to wrap around the top, for support.

The legs would be simple plywood legs, with some cutouts. And finally another piece would join the two legs. This would give support for the top as well as control side-to-side racking.

I sometimes will also generate a "flat layout" of the parts in sketchup. This gives me enough information to proceed with cutting out parts. If it was a larger or more complex project, then I might be more concerned with the cutting order and how to divide up the sheet. But for a simple project like this I work out a lot in my head or with some simple notes

In this situations, these two pages of plans from Sketchup were the only printed plans that I used.

Then it was off to the store to pick up a sheet of plywood.

I was exceedingly fortunate, as I found some of the most beautiful straight grained oak plywood that I have ever seen. Not a single knot and no cathedrals either. It was all long straight lines of grain.

My shop is not large, so I always have the store make the first cut in any plywood that I buy. This requires preplanning my projects, so I know where to have them make the cut.

(Other woodworkers who give shop tours invariable mention "sheet goods storage" when showing off their shop. My sheet goods are stored at the lumber yard...)

At home I ripped the plywood to give me the top, the back, and the two legs. (FYI, the top and back were ripped out of the large piece of plywood, and the legs were ripped out of the short piece. This maximized the left over plywood for my stash.)
I then crosscut the top and the legs to final length. I left the back long until later on.
I did not want to leave the legs as just rectangular pieces. You are far more likely to end up with a piece that rocks. It is far better to cut out smaller feet. I marked the center out, 6" up from the end, and laid out diagonals from that center down to the bottom, resulting in 3" feet.
I then pulled out my big bin of cheap forstner bits and decided how big a hole I wanted. I wanted a pretty large circular cutout, but I ended up moving the center a half inch closer to the bottom of the side; it just looked better that way.

Then on the drill press I drilled out the two holes...

... and over on the bandsaw I cut along the diagonal to finish the roughing out of the sides/legs
In keeping with the goal of quick-and-simple I drilled a series of pocket holes along the underside of the top, to make attaching the hardwood edging quick and simple.
I ripped 2" by 1" pieces of red oak for the top edging.
Out of the remainder of that board I ripped some half-inch strips for edging on the sides/legs.
I mitred the ends of the oak strips on my 45-degree crosscut sled.
Attaching the long pieces of edging.

The end pieces were then fitted and cut to length and also attached with pocket hole screws.
The edging for the legs was attached with glues and 23 gauge pins.
It's no fun trying to get edging to be the perfect exact width. It's far easier to just make it a bit wide, and then trim it flush with a flush-trimming bit on your router table, as I did.
Sanding everything.
I took the exact inside dimensions off of the table top, with the completed legs in place, and used that to trim the back to it's final size.
I drilled a series of pocket holes along the top edge of the back, and also along the inside-top of the legs, for attaching them to the top.
I temporarily attached the legs and back to the top, each with just one screw.
I then fitted reinforcing glue blocks into the corners. I screwed into these from the back and from the sides/legs. I figured that this would be stronger than just screwing into the edge of the plywood.
I then removed the top from the legs, for final finishing. I followed the same general procedure as I did on the Craft Table Project that I recently completed. So that includes a coat of shellac, and then several coats of polyurethane, each time lightly sanding between the coats.

And after that I left it to harden for a few days before putting it together with all the screws. Some final photos follow, including one showing the side table in it's final location.


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