How to Build a Side Table

March 28, 2024 3 min read

How to Build a Side Table

Whether you're an avid DIY-er or a woodworking newbie, building a side table can be daunting. With all of the different types of lumber, joinery techniques and finish options there are so many options to choose from! Don't worry, we've built hundreds of side tables and we're here to help - and make it easier. 

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First thing is to decide what you want the design to look like. Rectangle or round? Tall or short? Many side tables are small and sit near the side of a couch or arm chair to place small items like a cup of coffee or a book. Luckily for you, we have a variety of sizes and shapes to choose from in our DIY table kits. 

What is a table kit? We understand that you may just be getting started in woodworking, so we do the milling for you! The kit includes the table top/tops and legs. Both have the mortise and tenon joints already cut for you. When it arrives at your door, you can get started right away! You will need a sander/sandpaper, wood glue, and a finish. 

 Watch the instructions video: Link

Download the PDF with an entire list of instructions and images here: Link

Step one: Sand each table top, edge and leg. Don't sand the tenon on the end of each leg or it won't fit into the mortise hole properly. Sand first using 120 grit sandpaper on an orbital sander. An orbital sander is the easiest way to sand, but you can also sand everything by hand if you don't have a sander. Next, sand with 150 grit and go over all of the pieces again. 

Side note: If you want to add an edge profile to any of the edges, do so before sanding. You can use a router and router bit to create a rounded edge or use a piece of sandpaper to soften the edges. 

Step two: Get your wood glue and something to spread with. Add wood glue to the tenons on the ends of the legs and into the mortise holes. Spread the glue around evenly. You want to add enough glue to form a good construction, but not too much so that the glue squeezes out alot. It's okay if it does squeeze out! It will be harder to clean up later, but it's perfectly fine. If there are gaps in between the leg and table top, use clamps to close the gaps. You can also set the table upright and add weight to the top to try to close the gaps.

Let your glue dry for 30 min - 1 hour.

Once the glue has set, use a chisel or sandpaper to remove any excess glue that did squeeze out. 

Touch up any areas with sandpaper that got messed up during assembly, if necessary. 


Step three: Time to finish. If you have chosen walnut or cherry, we recommend adding a polyurethane finish. Our favorites are listed here: link Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the can. If you have chosen ash, you can add just polyurethane for a golden finish or you can choose to stain or paint it. Again, our favorites are listed in the link above. 

Step four: Allow your finish to dry. Once dry, you can add the four included rubber feet with the rubber screws. If it is uneven when placed on the floor, the screws can be adjusted or you can add a washer in between the foot and table bottom for extra height.

Congrats! You built a side table! Now all of your friends and family that you made your own table. Make sure to share with us and tag us on social media @twentyfiveandpine

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