When our good friends requested a matching table and bench for their playroom, I was excited to tackle to project. I’d recently upgraded the shop with a benchtop thickness planer, and I was finally ready to build a large project starting from rough-cut lumber rather than paying a premium for pre-milled boards from a big box store.
Not only does milling the wood myself cut materials costs way down, which in turn cuts final price for the client, it also results in a higher-quality final project with thicker, sturdier boards all around.
I took a ton of pictures throughout the process so I could send our friends updates (something I do for every client who requests it), and I even managed to take a few videos. I’ll keep the text relatively brief as there are a LOT of pictures to get through. Here we go.
The initial inspiration for the table came from this Shanty 2 Chic Playroom Table Build. The bench came from this Instructables article. Our friends were concerned about sharp edges, so after throwing together a model of the table and bench essentially as originally designed with custom dimensions, I started playing with different designs for the tabletop to soften the corners (click to activate rotation in all models):
Going with the round corners, I then added a radius to the top edges to soften things a little more, and I added in the bench:
As a final tweak, I widened the stance of the legs on the table to make it more stable and to help it match the bench better visually:
With final approval from our friends, I headed out to buy a stack of pine from a local mill.
Milling and Cutting
When I brought the stack of rough cut pine home, here’s what it looked like sitting on my workbench.
And here’s what the stack looked like after milling it with the planer and jointer:
I grabbed a video of putting a couple boards through the planer while bringing all the boards down to their final thickness:
With all of the boards smoothed on three sides and milled to their final thickness, I used the table saw to rip everything to width and crosscut all of the various pieces.
I assembled the tabletop, benchtop, and shelf first. All three are edge-joined using dowels and glue. I neglected to take photos of the doweling process (it was thrilling, let me tell you), but after that was finished, I clamped each of the three surfaces together and cut the ends flush. I had left each piece an inch or two longer than I needed during initial cutting as there is always some error in alignment when joining with dowels.
With all of the pieces cut to size, I rounded the corners of the outer boards of the tabletop and benchtop with my router table and a corner radius template. I built the template specifically for this project out of scrap plywood and aluminum angle iron. Here’s a video and a photo showing how it works in tandem with a flush trim router bit to “copy” an edge onto the workpiece:
With the corners rounded, I glued all three surfaces together and let them sit in clamps overnight:
The final step for each surface before assembly was a round of planing with a No. 4 smoothing plane and sanding with a random orbital. The tabletop and benchtop both also got a rounded edge courtesy of my trim router. Here’s a video showing bits of the whole process for the tabletop and a few photos of the finished surfaces:
Assembling the bases took some finesse. The legs for both the table and bench angle out at 15 degrees, which took away the crutch of using clamps during assembly to keep pieces from wandering, but careful measurement, pilot holes, and some patience kept things from getting out of hand. Here are a few pics of the process:
Unfinished Table + Bench Gallery
Before starting to paint, I took a few minutes to grab some pictures of the set unfinished. The tops aren’t attached here to allow for easier painting, but this was the first real look I got of the pieces in an almost-finished form.
Painting was a three-stage process. First I covered the knots with two coats of a shellac-based primer so that they wouldn’t show through the top coat:
Then I went over everything again with a single coat of latex primer:
Finally, I finished up with multiple coats of Krylon Colormaxx latex enamel paint. The legs mostly took three coats while the flat surfaces took four. I started out using a brush but found that brush marks were an issue, presumably because the enamel aspect of the paint that gives it increased durability also makes it less forgiving than a regular latex paint, so I converted to a roller for the final coats. I don’t have pics of the painting process, but you can see the final results in the gallery below.
I don’t know that I could be happier with this build. I’m not usually one for painting, but the results here are (if I may brag a bit) fairly spectacular. The white paint is pretty perfect.
Before our friends picked up their new table and bench, I set it up in our playroom and grabbed a few pics:
After our friends got the table home and set it up in their playroom, they sent me a few pics:
Like what you see? My next build could be for you! Contact me if you’re interested in a custom furniture build.