How to Build Tables Out of Plywood

Carpentry today is often considered more art than science.

Making A Plywood Table.

But taken back to its basics, carpentry is simply defined as working with wood to build structures and furniture. The amateur carpenter can easily make functional furniture as easily as the professional. What makes the difference is the materials and tools he/she has to work with. An amateur must work with what materials are in his budget. A common building material you can get at any home repair or construction store is plywood. People often turn their noses down at it, considering it plebien and substandard for a carpenter to work with. While it may lack aesthetics, we must always remember that every great work had humble beginnings and every skilled artisan had to start somewhere. Here is a guide on how to build a functional table entirely out of plywood.

Start by measuring and marking out a three foot by six foot rectangle of plywood. Use the table saw to cut out the plywood’s dimensions.

Measure out eight lengths of plywood each three feet long and four inches wide. Cut these pieces with the circular saw.

Pair each of the lengths of plywood up. Pour wood glue along a flat of one of each pair and press the pairs together so you have four plywood legs each three feet long, four inches wide, and one and a half inch thick. Use the C Clamps to hold these legs together tightly until the glue dries.

Lay the plywood table top on the ground and measure out a small rectangle at each of the tables four corners. Each should be one and a half inches wide and four inches long. These are well the table’s legs will go. Mark an outline where each leg will go.

Measure the distance from each spot where a table leg will go to it’s opposite. This should give you four lengths. Using these lengths you will cut four more pieces of plywood that will sit on the underside of the table to stabilize the legs. Two of the plywood lengths should be five feet and four inches long by one and a half inches wide. The other two lengths should be four inches wide by two feet and nine inches long. Make the appropriate cuts with your table saw.

Line each of these four lengths with glue and place press them onto the underside of the table, flush with the edges. Make sure that these lengths abut with the pencil outlines of where the legs will go, but do note cross it. Hammer the 1-1/4 inch nails into the stabilizing lengths; the nails should bury themselves in the wood before they go through the tabletop.

Use the palm sander to smooth all the surface of the tabletop, the stabilizers beneath it, and the table legs that are still separate. Just give it a good once over to get rid of the splinters with the rough sandpaper. You will still have to sand the finished piece once more before you’re finished.

Put wood glue on the spots on the underside of the table where the legs will go, then press the legs firmly into place. Hammer the two inch nails into the narrow sides of each leg so it buries itself into the stabilizing piece of plywood next to it.

Measure and mark four more lengths of plywood. Two of them should be four inches wide by six feet and one and half inches long. The other two should be four inches wide by three feet long. These pieces will make the table’s apron.

Run wood glue along the narrow edges of the table, press each plywood board flat against its corresponding edge so it’s flush with the table’s top. Hammer the two inch nails into the apron from the side to firmly affix them. Try to put the nails in so they slip into the seam between the plywood making up the tabletop and the plywood stabilizers. You don’t want the nails to be too high and near the surface of the tabletop.

Go around the table and try to hammer each nail head that is visible so it’s slightly below the surface of the surrounding wood. With this done, you can then cover over the nail heads with wood putty to conceal them. Use the putty knife to smooth the putty flush with the surrounding surfaces. Make sure the putty is dry before continuing.

Use the precision router with the ¼ inch rounded head to decorate the edge of the table. Place the router firmly against the top edge of the table and cut an inward curving groove along all four sides. This small gesture toward ornamentation will really make a difference in your finished table.

Work the palm sander thoroughly over every visible surface of the wood table. Use the rough paper first, and then go over it again with the fine paper so the table is perfectly smooth to the touch. Stand back and admire your work, you’ve just built your own table out of nothing by plywood.

Things You Will Need

  • 3/4 inch Plywood
  • Palm Sander
  • Table Saw
  • Circular Saw
  • Hammer
  • Precision Router
  • Curved 1/4 Inch Bit
  • Wood Glue
  • C Clamps
  • Wood Putty
  • Putty Knife
  • Measuring Tape
  • Pencil
  • 2 Inch Carpentry Nails
  • 1-1/4 Inch Carpentry Nails
  • Rough and Fine Sandpaper

About the Author

John Albers has been a freelance writer since 2007. He's successfully published articles in the "American Psychological Association Journal" and online at Garden Guides, Title Goes Here, Mindflights Magazine and many others. He's currently expanding into creative writing and quickly gaining ground. John holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Central Florida in English literature and psychology.