Make outdoor living more convenient with this combination side table, storage trolley, and serving tray woodworking project.
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Refer to the Project Diagram to cut frame rails and stiles, upper and lower support rails, and slats (A, B, C, D, and E) from cedar stock. (Note: You may need to rip the 1 x 4 cedar parts to 2-1/2 inches wide.) Cut the top cleats (F) from pine.
To cut parts to equal lengths, attach a stop block to your saw.
Using a circular saw and plywood cutting blade: Cut the top and bottom (B) from exterior plywood.
To reduce splintering of the top plywood layer when cutting with a circular saw, place the good side down when cutting and adhere a strip of masking tape on top of the penciled cut line.
Using a circular saw and jigsaw and the appropriate plywood blades, cut the two shelves to 15-7/8-in x 27-1/2-in. With a combination square and ruler, lay out the four 1-1/2-in notches (two per shelf). Mark a stop line 19 inches from the notched end. Clamp a straightedge to the shelf so the saw blade aligns on the marked line. Cut to the 19-inch stop line.
Using a #8 countersink and pilot bit, drill pilot holes in the frame rails (A) and frame stiles (B). Follow the screw layout carefully. Otherwise, screws attaching the slats in the next step may align on top of the frame-assembly screws.
Assemble the two frames with #7x1-1/4-in deck screws. Add the upper support rail (C) and lower support rail (D) to one frame as shown in the drawing.
The countersink and pilot bit will reduce splintering of end grain in the stiles and rails. (Cedar is an excellent exterior wood, but splinters easily.) Test the countersink depth in scrap material first.
After using the #8 countersink and pilot bit (see previous step) attach the slats (E) with #7x1-1/4-in deck screws. For uniform 13/16-inch spacing, tape a piece of cardboard (try cardboard from a cereal box) to a scrap of 3/4-inch-thick wood. Verify the thickness of your spacer before proceeding.
The 13/16-inch thickness will allow 3/4-inch-thick shelves to easily slide in and out of the side table. Making your own spacer will also require fewer measurements during the assembly steps.
Using a countersink and pilot bit, drill the top cleats (F). Attach the top cleats. Countersink holes in the frame rails (B).
Attach the top (G) with #7 x 1-1/4-in deck screws.
Turn the side table upside down. Place it on a clean towel to protect the plywood top from being scratched or dented.
Lay out screw locations. Use a #8 countersink and pilot bit to prepare the holes. Attach the bottom (G) with #7 x1/4-in deck screws.
Attach the four swivel casters with 14 x 3/4-in pan head screws.
Sand all pieces with 80-grit sandpaper. Then sand again with 120-grit sandpaper. Apply two coats of finish as recommended. The side table shown here was finished with Cabot’s Australian Timber Oil in Mahogany Flame.