Sometimes it’s tricky finding the right piece of furniture to fit in a certain space and our smallish house is no exception. We don’t have a coffee table due to size constraints so there isn’t a good, close spot to put the TV remote or set a cold one while relaxing on the couch. Angie had talked about wanting a side table so I decided to make my own end table that fits in a very tight area. Here’s how I did it to give you ideas on making your own.
Our living and dining rooms are connected as one L-shaped room and the front door is smack dab in the middle of them. You can see it in Angie’s Behind The Scenes post (if you look closely, you’ll see the finished table tucked away behind the front door). This leaves just enough room for our sectional couch to squeeze between the door and wall with 8 inches to spare. It’s not so easy to find an 8″ x 32″ end table AND is tall enough that you can easily reach the top shelf over the high couch arm. This project also let me try out the process of using Polycrylic to attach a laser printed pattern to wood on something larger like I did with the MCM Plant Stand.
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Custom DIY 3 Tiered MCM Themed End Table (Free Engineering Sized Pattern Printable)
- 1 x 8 x 96 Pine Board
- 8 Wood Spindles (like this)
- Zinsser B-I-N Shellac Based Primer
- Minwax Pre-Stain Conditioner
- Minwax Red Oak Stain
- Minwax Polycrylic
- 24″ x 36″ Engineering Print (Laser Printed only)
- Band Saw (or jig saw)
- Drill & Bits
- Palm Sander
- Tape measure & ruler
- Straight edge
- Utility Razor Knife / Hobby Knife
- Self Healing cutting mat
- (I use this one)
- Rubber Mallet
Angie was lucky enough to find these wood spindles at a garage sale last year. The woman selling them said her father had made them by hand many years ago. There are several sizes of them, and the longest ones are the perfect height with three 3/4″ thick shelves and 4 spindles in between each shelf. The unique shape of these spindles really screams mid century. I tried to find spindles with a similar shape to buy online to no avail. All I could come up with are the common spindles used in chair backs.
I picked up a cheap 1x8x96 pine board (3/4″ x 7 1/4″ x 96″ actual size) from the local home improvement store which I cut into three equal 32″ long pieces for the shelves.
I free hand drew and cut rounded corners with the band saw on one of the boards. Then I traced those corners onto the remaining pieces and cut them. Finally, I sanded the corners smooth.
I needed some holes for the wood dowels of the spindles to go through. The holes in the bottom and middle shelves go all the way through the wood, but the top shelf holes only go 1/2″ deep. I measured 1 1/2″ from the sides at each corner on one piece and marked where to drill. To make sure the holes lined up properly, I clamped the bottom and middle shelves together and drilled them at the same time. Then, I clamped the middle shelf to the top and set my drill bit depth with tape so that I knew when to stop and not go all the way through the top piece.
Here’s a test fit after drilling the holes. It’s starting to look like a table!
I filled holes and knots with wood putty and sanded the shelves in preparation for paint. The shelf tops will be getting covered with our Lines & Dots MCM pattern but the edges and bottom will remain white. We decided to test out a different primer with this project after reading that Shellac Based Primer does a good job of covering pine knots compared to latex primer. I ended up with 3 coats of primer on all sides, then used some white spray paint to finish the side edge. I’m quite happy with the coverage of the shellac primer. This is after 1 coat of primer.
Just a heads up that I almost lost a pretty good paint brush since I wasn’t prepared for the shellac to really muck it up. Be sure to read your instructions but, we read that ammonia worked, which we don’t like but, we bought a small bottle of it.
On the spindles, I first used Minwax Pre-Stain Conditioner, then put on three coats of Minwax Red Oak stain. Satin Polycrylic was used to seal them. The dark spindles give a nice contrast to the white shelves.
Now it’s time to put the pattern on the shelves using Polycrylic as “glue” just like I did on the MCM Plant Stand. The pattern is a slightly modified version of the same Lines & Dots pattern (available below). The big box office stores can do large format “engineering prints” at a low cost and various sizes. To get enough pattern for 3 shelves, I needed a 24″ x 36″ engineering print.
The first print was made at an Office Depot store which turned out to be done on an Ink Jet printer. Thankfully I did a test with a scrap piece of that pattern and wood first which turned out terrible. The Ink Jet paper has a special coating to help ink soak-in which caused the paper to excessively bubble up with Polycrylic and was unable to get them to roll out smooth. I called around and Staples was the only place I could find that did their engineering prints on a Laser Printer.
I cut the paper into three 8″ x 36″ strips with a straight edge, razor knife and cutting mat. Then I cut off the excess from one end of the three pieces. This leaves roughly a 1/4″ overlap all the way around the shelf.
With the pieces ready, I began the gluing process which turned out to be more difficult than the MCM Plant Stand. The larger pieces were harder to get smooth and remove all the wrinkles. It wasn’t until the last piece that I really found my rhythm. Of course, the last shelf was the bottom one which turned out pristine 😀 The trick is to do small sections at a time, roll straight down the middle first, then from the middle out to each edge. My animation below is missing the first “roll down the center.”
Here’s a closeup of some wrinkles. It’s actually not very noticeable on the finished piece since the pattern is small.
After the paper/polycrylic was dry, I trimmed off the overlap and cut out the dowel holes with a utility and hobby knife.
I put a few more coats of Polycrylic on the top and sides of the shelves, lightly sanding between each.
With the shelves and spindles ready, it’s time to glue it all together.
I started by gluing the dowels into the top shelf, using a rubber mallet to tap them in snug. The table looked good with the large tapered end of the spindle towards the middle shelf so I glued the spindles onto the dowels, making sure to get them oriented correctly. Then, I glued the bottom set of spindles to the middle shelf. The dowels stick out through the middle shelf. I flipped the middle shelf with spindles over and attached it to the top shelf.The bottom shelf was finally glued onto the dowels and tapped snug. I used a rag to protect the shelf from the rubber mallet when tapping.
The last step was to make some feet for the table. We have an old closet bar in the garage that I sanded smooth and cut four pieces to use for feet. I drilled a hole through the center of each and glued them onto the dowel under the bottom shelf.
Now we have our long and thin 3 tiered end table by the couch where I can set a frosty beverage or cup of coffee! I really like how the table turned out, even with the wrinkles in the pattern. Sometimes custom furniture is the only way to go and it doesn’t have to be difficult, it just has to be your style.
Is there an awkward spot in your house needing a little creative build to fill it? I’d love to hear about any strange places you find difficult to fill with furniture pieces.
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