What’s Up Wednesday–Topping it Off

The weeks are flying!  I can’t believe it’s What’s Up Wednesday AGAIN.

So any guesses on what the heck my title means?  Topping it off?  Our gas tank? Our drink?  Our hair?  What exactly are we topping off today?

A table.

finished table 2

We are talking table tops.  Yep. You would have never guessed, huh?

So first I have to get this off my chest.  I have a pet peeve about table tops.  I’m far from an expert table top maker, but I cannot stand table tops made from 1xs.  They just seem flimsy, weak, and insufficient.  Maybe it’s just me.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  Please see disclosure policy for more details.  As always I only link to products that I personally use or recommend.

And as much as I LOVE my Kreg Jig, I prefer gluing tops vs screwing with with pocket holes.  Personal preference.  And 2xs are MUCH easier to glue than 1xs. (Just another reason not to make table tops with 1xs.)

Said all that to say, when another friend asked me to make her a table based on Shanty 2 Chic’s plan here, I was hesitant about the table top since it was made from 1x6s.  I asked my friend if she had a problem with me making a few modifications to the top and thankfully she trusted me to do whatever.  So I did.

I’ve made SEVERAL tops like this and it is simple and by far my favorite way to make a table top.  All you need are some pipe clamps and glue.  And a circular saw with a Kreg Rip Cut (which is what I did here) or table saw would be useful, but not necessary.

When you buy 2xs at the lumber yard or hardware store, the edges are not perfectly square.  They have rounded corners.  See the bottom board below?  That’s a rounded corner board.  The top is one where I squared off the edges.

wood edges

You could skip this step, but I always like to square my edges before gluing.  It just makes the table top smooth across the top.  If you glue two rounded edge boards together, you have a little dip at all the joints and that’s just another place to get food, crumbs, or dust stuck.  But, it’s just a small dip, so it’s not THAT big of a deal.

To square off an edge, you can either use a table saw or circular saw.  If using a table saw, set the rip fence about an 1/8″ narrower than the width of the board and run it through.  Then set it another 1/8″ narrower and run the other side through.  Remember, you don’t have to square off the edges on the outside of the table.  You can do the same thing with a circular saw, just set your straight edge (or Kreg Rip Cut, if you have one) so that you will cut about 1/8″ off.  Repeat for the other side.

Once your boards are squared off (or not), you are ready to glue.  I’ve learned the hard way, so you can trust me or not, but if you are gluing multiple boards together for a top (and you most likely are), it takes longer, but it’s so much easier to glue two at a time vs all of them at a time.  In my case, I was gluing 4 boards together to make the top.  So I first glued two together.

I laid them on my table saw on some scrap 2x4s and wiped any sawdust off the edges.  You want the edges smooth and clean.  I flipped one up on its side and applied the glue.  I use Titebond II wood glue.  I’ve used Elmers in the past, I just like to switch it up.  Both work great.  I usually run a line down and line back.

two boards to glue together

glue on edge

Then flip the board over and press against the other board.  The glue will drip if you don’t “smash” it into the other board.

Use pipe clamps to tighten the boards together.  If you notice your boards buckling, you can alternate and put one clamp across the bottom and the other across the top.  Mine was pretty flat, so I just left them on top.  You want to try to adjust the boards as you tighten so the tops are flush.  These boards are tricky and sometimes they are warped.  You will never get them perfect and you can always sand down later if you need to.  Tighten each clamp a little then go back and tighten them a little more.  You don’t want them so tight all the glue squeezes out, but you don’t want to see any gaps.  Adjust a little as needed.  Then let it set.  I leave mine overnight or at least several hours to dry good.

two boards clamped2

Then repeat with the other two boards.  Then I have two large pieces to glue together for the final top.

two pieces to make one

I did the same thing with this–flipped it over, applied glue, then clamped.

whole top clamped

Don’t worry if a little glue gets on it…you can sand that off.


glue on table 2

Mine were a little uneven, too. One board was slightly higher than the other in the middle.

table uneven before sanding2

But once you let your whole top cure and the glue is dry, you are ready for sanding.  You can sand by hand (not recommended as it would take forever, but it’s doable), or you can power sand.  I have my dad’s old belt sander and it is a miracle worker.  You can read more about that here.  But I gave it a good sanding and especially in those uneven areas.  But you have to be careful with a belt sander.  If you let it set too long in one place or you only sand in one spot over and over, it will leave a gouge.  Always keep it moving.

Anyway, look how even the top is after sanding.  This is the exact spot on the table as the picture above. Sanding makes all the difference.  Of course a planer would also be nice, but a little lot pricier than sanding haha.

table even after sanding2

Make sure if you are staining, that you get all the glue off before you stain.  It’ll sand off pretty easy.

table top after sanding

Wipe off the dust, and she’s ready for finish.  And that’s how you make a table top that will last forever.  See? I told you it was easy.  Sqaure, glue, clamp, sand.  Done.

Now you just have to make a base.  And might I suggest this one? I do love this table.

me with table

And this shirt…First I drink the coffee, then I build the things.  I thought it was fitting to wear it with the table since the shirt is a Shanty 2 Chic inspired shirt (sold by Milk and Honey Tees on Etsy), and the table was modified from a Shanty 2 Chic plan.  See what I did there?  PS I live in Kentucky, so I’m obviously barefoot 😉 hahaha

Anyway, I’ll tell you about how I modified the plans later.  For now, get to making that table top!

But, first, don’t forget to pin for later!

Building a table top is the easy part, deciding on a base is what's difficult!  Find out how to build a table top that will last forever and doesn't require fancy tools--Woodshop Diaries



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9 Comment

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    July 16, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    […] Previous Story What’s Up Wednesday–Topping it Off […]

  2. […] can check out my post here about how to build a table top.  For this top, I used two 2x12s and two 2x10s to make the total […]

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    February 3, 2017 at 11:53 am

    […] can read about how I make table tops in this post, but basically, I squared off the edges on my table saw and glued the boards together.  Squaring […]

  4. […] can see how I make table tops in this post, but I made my top 33” wide and about 22” deep. I will likely trim the top down to 20-21” […]

  5. […] little backwards, right?  But trust me, it’s better this way.  I give you the whole run down here on how I build table tops.  There are countless ways to do it, but that is what I […]

  6. […] 36” long and 16 ½” wide. You can use a circular saw or table saw to trim it down to size. See my post here on how I build table/cabinet […]

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    […] I glued together a bench top just like I make table tops. I trimmed it to fit, then cut out two pieces for the flip tops using my circular saw. Once the […]

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  9. […] can see my post here on how I make table tops.  For this, I simply squared the edges, and glued the boards […]

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