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I’m over the hill and sliding down the other side but not yet too old to learn a few new tricks. Pinterest and my smartphone have become useful tools in the shop that allow project collaboration with my daughters. By creating my Projects for Fern board and giving access to the family we can share ideas, like the recent pin from daughter Amanda (Fern’s mom) for a child’s craft table. Check out John’s DIY Projects board for summaries of some of our DIY creations and keep reading to find out how we made our version of the craft table.

Children tumble, bump their heads, scrape their knees and in general collect a bucket load of bruises. We strive as parents and grandparent to remove as many obstacles and potential dangers as possible, but the tykes still find a way. In building wood projects for Fern I strive to address sharp edges, lethal corners, flagrant splinters, and tipsy designs. I also plan to build lasting items that Fern may one day share with her children.

Here’s my parts list for the craft table. Where possible I use standard stock in my projects to keep things simple and doable with a minimum of expensive tools. If your home center does not carry 2’x4’ sheets of plywood you may be able to get them to cut a 4’x8’ sheet at the store, but of course you will be buying the entire sheet of plywood. Birch plywood carries a premium price but I planned to stain and varnish the top of my table and wanted a grain pattern that shouts, “Beautiful!”

Materials

  • (1) 2”x4”x8’ (I bought two and cut around the voids and knots.)
  • (1) 1”x4”x8’
  • (1) 1”x2”x8’
  • (1) 2’x4’x3/4” Birch plywood
  • (1) 12”x29”x3/4” plywood scrap from some past project
  • ~20’ of trim to cover plywood edges
  • 2″ Screws
  • 1 1/4″ Screws
  • Wood glue, primer, paint, wood conditioner, and stain.

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Parts to cut

  • (1) Top – 24”x36”
  • (1) Shelf – 12”x29”
  • (4) Legs – 2”x4”x21”, the angle is 22.5 degrees which is a fixed stop on most miter saws
  • (2) Shelf supports –1”x2”x12”
  • (2) Leg supports –2”x4”x20”

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Mark the center of the two leg supports and add registration marks 1” up from either edge as shown. The two leg ends will rest against each other on either side of the center line.

Shop tip – if you do not own a combination square, buy one. This tool is a must have. To make registration marks set the ruler at the desired depth. While keeping the frame tight against the edge of the board and a pencil tight against the end of the ruler, slide and make the marks.

Sanding block spacers

I found that 3M sanding blocks are 1” thick and made the perfect extra hands as I attached the legs to the supports. If you can recruit extra hands for this step that will help. Use the 2” screws and drill pilot holes in the support to prevent splits.

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The leg assemblies are done!

Before you proceed and turn the table top upside down to mount the legs sweep the workbench and deploy a drop cloth or some other padding to avoid scarring the plywood.

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I chose to mount the leg assemblies 2” in from the edges so I marked each corner in seconds using combination square. Kids climb and I suspect this table will be a preferred perching spot for Fern. By locating the leg assemblies close to the edges I have hopefully minimized the tipping danger.

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Mark the screw locations and drill pilot holes.

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Clamp the leg assemblies in place and use the 1 ¼” screws to attach. The 2” screws are too long and will protrude through the top so I say again, use the 1 ¼” screws for this step.

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Follow a similar process to mount the shelf supports to the ends of the shelf.

Helping Hands Blocks

Mounting the shelf to the table can be stressful as there are several alignments that must match between ends. I took a short cut. With my wife’s help we determined where the shelf should mount. I then cut two sections of scrap 2”x4” to make a pair of helping hands blocks as shown in the picture. The pipe clamps pulled the legs tight against the shelf and the helping hand blocks kept the shelf at the correct height on both ends. Now using 2” screws I attached the shelf supports to the legs.

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This is the time to sand, add the trim to cover the raw plywood edges and fill any voids in the wood. I used a trim gun and wood glue to attach my trim.

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The top and shelf were treated with wood conditioner then stained with two coats of Minwax dark walnut (#2716) stain.

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The legs were primed with two coats of laytex primer then painted using gloss trim paint. If I made another table using this finishing scheme I would paint the leg assemblies before adding the shelf and top.

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Three coats of Minwax Fast-Drying Gloss Oil-Based Polyurethane yields a killer shine and should facilitate cleanup from crayon marks, glitter, glue, and so on. The finish was applied using a foam brush with strokes in parallel paths. I waited 24 hours between coats and sanded lightly after the first two coats with 220 grit using a random orbital sander.

The bottom of the surface is stained but not varnished so that chewing gum and bubble gum may be archived as the child desires.

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And I added my personalized note under the shelf for Fern to find some day, when she turns the table upside down and uses the shelf as a bench. You know it will happen.

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Amanda chose a pair of cool kid-sized chairs to go with the table.

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Fern has claimed her space. I will deliver the table on her second birthday in about two weeks.

And now I must get back to the shop as daughter Michelle has requested a second hoop light for Christmas.

Note – Follow the link to find a similar table created by another DIY person, Andrea, at Strawberry Chic.

Update:

Fern loves the table and its location in the main office of Wit And Whistle. She can help with the orders and entertain herself while Mom works.

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I expect to see a stream of artistic creations from this budding genius.