Roomy reach-in cubbies atop sturdy, X-leg design make this straightforward table the go-to spot for multi-tasking.
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Refer to the Cutting Diagram, and cut the legs (A) and stretcher (B). Rip 1/4 inch from each edge of the board, reducing the width to 3 inches. (This step removes the rounded-over corners of the 2x4, which improves the appearance of the project.) Label the pieces with chalk and set them aside.
Cut the top cleats (C), top and bottom boards (D) and dividers (E) from 3/4-inch pine. Label the pieces with chalk and set them aside. We ripped these pieces to width with a table saw and crosscut the pieces to length with a compound miter saw.
If you don't have access to a jointer, remove 1/16 inch from both edges of boards you intend to edge-join. This will produce cleaner joints. Because it's next to impossible to glue and clamp boards while keeping their ends precisely square (lumber "buttered" with glue slides under clamping pressure), we'd recommend ripping each of the boards for the top/bottom (D) to 7 inches and cross-cutting each board 1 inch longer (47-1/2") than its final size. Trim to 20x47 inches as described in Step 4.
Before laminating the top/bottom (D), lay out the three boards with alternating patterns of growth rings, as shown in the Grain Arrangement Drawing. Alternating the boards as shown will minimize warping, especially during seasonal changes in humidity.
Chalk a triangle on what will be the top surface of the laminated top and bottom. This will prevent accidentally gluing up the boards in the wrong order.
Apply woodworker's glue (Franklin Titebond II is our favorite) on the mating edges and clamp. Use a framing square as a straightedge to check that the top remains flat during clamping. (Improperly positioned clamps may cause bowing.)
After the glue squeeze out skims over (a shiny surface as glue dries slightly), remove the excess glue with a damp and clean shop rag or disposable towel. This step will reduce your sanding efforts and avoid tattle-tale glue smears that pop out during finishing steps.
Make four copies of the Full-Sized Leg End Pattern (PDF) and adhere the patterns to the four legs with spray adhesive. Set your miter saw to cut a 34-degree angle and make a cut at the end of each leg.
Next, cut the 56-degree cuts with a circular saw or jigsaw. Remove the paper patterns and mark the 56-degree ends with a chalked "X" (eight Xs total). The Xs provide a quick reference check in the following steps.
Cut a piece of 1/2-inch plywood to 16x24 inches. Next, mark diagonals across the plywood where shown at left. Then mark parallel lines 1-1/2 inches from each of diagonals (four lines total) where shown.
Now, place the legs on the template and mark the half-lap locations on all four legs, where shown in the Project Diagram. Use the Xs chalked on each 56-degree side as a reference to double-check correct positioning. With the side of your pencil lead, darken the stock to remove.
Before cutting the 3/4-inch-deep dadoes, build the Leg Dado-Cutting Jig detailed in the Project Diagram. Refer to the drawings to help set up the dadoes for accurate and safe cutting. After cutting repetitive kerfs across the dadoes, remove the waste wood with a wood chisel. Test-fit of the half-lap dadoes; adjust as necessary. Finish-sand the legs with 80-grit and then 120-grit sandpaper.
Remove the clamps from the laminated top and bottom. Rip and crosscut each laminated piece to 20x47 inches. Finish-sand the top and bottom with 80-grit and then 120-grit sandpaper.
Pad your workbench with a clean towel. (The padding will reduce the chances of denting the soft pine while assembling the top and bottom.) Place the top (D) with the good side facing down on the table. Now, lay out the divider locations where dimensioned in Step 4a (above).
Turn the top over (best side up; penciled locations for the first two dividers facing down). Lift the top to position the dividers within the penciled lines; use the spacers and bar clamps to assist in aligning the first divider. Drill 3/8-inch-diameter counterbores 1/4 inch deep. To save time, use a Kobalt® Hex Shank Countersink #8 Drill Bit Item #280542 to drill the counterbore, shank hole, and pilot hole in one operation.
Drive #8x1-1/2-inch flathead wood screws in the first divider (glue not required for this step). Remove the clamps and attach the second and successive dividers.
Turn the top assembly over (with the good side of the top downward on your workbench). Position the bottom (D), using a combination square to flush its edges and ends with the top.
On the underside of the bottom piece, countersink for #8 screws (counterboring not required) and drill shank and pilot holes where shown.
Dry-fit the two pairs of legs and drill a pair of counterbored holes for the #8x1-1/2-inch wood screws where shown on the Leg Assembly Drawing. Note the vertical alignment of the screws; this will prevent the screws required to install the stretcher from hitting these screws. Apply glue, and drive the screws home.
Then, attach the top cleats (C) with glue and screws.
With a 3/8 inch tapered plug cutter, cut 25 or more plugs from 3-inch-thick scrap pine. (For the best results, cut wooden plugs at a drill press running at 1,000 rpm.)
Glue the plugs in place, matching the grain pattern and grain direction as closely as possible. Use a flush-cut saw to trim the plugs even with the surface. Sand the plugs smooth. Tapered wooden plugs (cut with face grain) are harder to detect than dowel plugs with end grain.
Saw the plugs close to the surface after the glue has dried. Then sand the plug flush with the surface of the wood.
One time-tested tip is to place a used random-orbit sander disk (grit side down) over the plug. The disc will protect the surrounding work piece from scars created by the saw's teeth.
Fill the nail holes with stainable wood filler. Finish-sand the table with 80-grit and then 120-grit sandpaper. To check for glue smears and scratches on the table, dampen a clean rag with mineral spirits and wipe. Resand glue smears, globs, and surface scars before applying finish.
Practice staining technique using a brush and soft cotton on a piece of scrap wood to get a feel for the application. Apply first coat of stain, dry overnight, then apply final coat of stain over entire table or wherever needed. Let dry and apply two coats of Polycrylic clear finish.