Category: Woodworking

A Straightforward DIY Living Room Table Set just for You

While trying to decide on the direction for our new living room that wouldn’t break the bank, I was inspired by pins on Ikea furniture hacks. One, in particular, struck my fancy because of its simplicity and look. I ended up finding a discounted Hemnes white coffee table which was the start of this living room table set project. If you’re looking for a simple project that will impress your friends, then follow along with me.

Living room table set coffee table
Ikea Hemnes Coffee Table

Personalizing Ikea

Supplies for Ikea top: 

  • 3- 1x6x8
  • 1- 1x3x6
  • 1″ Wood Screws

Supplies for Side Table:

  • 1- 1x2x6
  • 1- 2x2x8
  • 3- 1x6x8
  • Stain
  • 1 1/2″ Wood Screws 
  • Kreg jig & screws
  • Wood Glue

I assume you know how wood measurements work, but just in case, here’s a nice breakdown at Arch Toolbox. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if the name matched the actual size?! I was given some poplar boards from our builder that were perfect for the coffee table and as the main part of a coordinating side table. I used pine for the store-bought wood for it’s affordability. In general, pine is a softer wood, so choosing this option could mean finding nicks and scraps in the wood at some point. Poplar is a harder wood that will take more of a beating.  

Getting started on this Living Room Table Set

This portion of the project involved ripping the boards into 6 equal pieces at 4 3/4″ x 41 1/4″. You have two options on how to connect them side by side; doweling and pocket holes. Pocket holes are easier to do but can be tricky to ensure the boards stay completely flush. Doweling needs to be pretty precise, so it can be tedious and slightly difficult to do by yourself. I chose to go with the pocket holes route for both tables here. I also decided to sand down the corners of each board to ensure there was a distinction between the boards after they were secured together.

living room table set: ikea update

After the long middle boards were screwed together, I cut the end boards to size at 2 3/8″ and 29 1/4″. I used the Kreg jig to create the pocket holes to attach the ends. With the top together, I stained it and the sides with a white stain followed by three coats of clear polyacrylic. I wanted to keep the top white to match the table and go with the white, gray, yellow, and teal color scheme of the room.

living room table set: new top

To finish this easy table upgrade, I just needed to screw the wood top to the coffee table. This was simply done by turning the coffee table over to expose the bottom. It was best to clamp the top to the table to avoid a gap between the boards. I chose not to use glue and stick with just the screws. To make sure the wood wouldn’t splinter with the wood screws, I pre-drilled the holes.

Side Table

Cuts

  • 8 – 1″ x 4″ x 19″
  • 4 – 1″ x 4 1/2″ x 24″
  • 6 – 1″ x 2″ x 13 1/4″
  • 2 – 1″ x 2″ x 19″
  • 4 – 2″ x 2″ x 24″

The width of the legs and shelves is 14 3/4″ and the height of the side table is 24 3/4″.

The side table consisted of cutting the wood to size and using the kreg jig. I didn’t care to have to do more cuts than necessary, so my schematic limited the need for notched cuts by utilizing the 1×2’s.

living room table set: boards for side table

The poplar boards I used also needed to be ripped to size for the two shelves. I used a circular saw with a guide to cut the four boards, which works well enough. I would actually much rather have a table saw to use that would ensure an absolutely straight cut. My woodworking projects would be so much easier with a few extra tools, that’s for sure, but it just goes to show you don’t need all the special tools to complete a project. After cutting all the boards, sanding them smooth and making the pocket holes with the kreg jig was up next. 

Almost finished

Pocket holes galore. I used pocket holes to connect all the pieces together as you can see below, making sure to screw the shelf into all four legs and the 1×2’s. With all the hard work done, it was finally time to stain it. Rust-o-leum Antique White stain applied with a white rag gave it the finish I was trying to achieve. It needed three coats of stain to give it a consistent white. You generally shouldn’t need to do that many coats, but I felt it was warranted with this one. The most important point when staining is to go with the grain and not to allow it to pool in any one spot. 

And that’s all that is involved with creating a simple side table and giving an Ikea table an upgrade. If you’re looking for another easy project, check out Revamp a Composite Bookcase. It uses 1×2 pine boards just like some of this one.

living room table set top
living room table set bottom shelf

Completed Living Room Table Set Project

living room table set finished side table
living room table set: finished idea table

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Dresser Makeover into a Surprising Shutter Buffet

So one day I was surfing the Facebook marketplace as I often do and saw a free dresser posted nearby. I already had an antique kitchen hutch, old windows, a bunch of shutters from my mother in law, a tall dresser and a huge log taking up property in my garage. The picture wasn’t great but it looked worth a dresser refinish project since it was free. My husband agreed to pick it up for me while I was at work. The next text I got was that he had indeed gotten it, but the dresser was in terrible shape.

free dresser ready for dresser refinish

I figured he was being a bit overdramatic, but when I got home to look, saw he wasn’t kidding. The previous owner’s cats had taken up residence inside the drawer, shredding many of them and leaving behind a lovely aroma. It was gross and I didn’t feel like having to get the scent out and replace the drawer bottoms. He asked if I was going to toss it, but I decided to gut it instead.

Start of this Dresser Refinish

Time to Gut It

dresser refinish after gutting

I pulled out the drawers and tossed all but one, which now holds roller skates in my garage. I pulled off the disgusting back panel, the drawer bars and was left with a fresh canvas. The stack of small shutters inspired me and lead the whole dresser refinish after I decided to nix the drawers.

Dresser refinish gutted
Dresser refinish in progress
My messy garage that only seems to stay clean for short periods of time.

After gutting it, it was time to cover the inside and add the shelves. I used 1/4″ plywood for the sides. (As seen below) I used a circular saw and a jigsaw to cut it to size and make the notches for the front crossbars.

Next up: Shelves

Dresser refinish with shelves

For the shelves, I used some 3/4″ plywood that I already had leftover from another project. After measuring it to size, I used a circular saw with a guide to cut more easily. As I said it in another post, I lack a lot of the tools to make tasks easier. I would love to get a new table saw at some point, because I find cutting a completely straight line with a circular saw quite difficult.

I used a Kreg jig I ‘borrowed’ from my parents years ago to create the screw holes to be able to attach the shelf to the supports.

This is what a kreg jig looks like for those who don’t know. Thought I’d save you a google search. 😉

Dresser refinished with all shelves
Yep, in the background are the shutters and log I referenced. I had been desperately trying to find someone who would be able to cut it into two pieces and coming up empty.
After getting all three shelves screwed into place, it was time to paint the shelves and outside. I used a light gray chalk paint I had leftover from a dresser refinish for the inside. I liked the slight variation in the gray and white. (Anyone recognize that carpenter benchtop?! Referenced here in my platter post . I get tons of use out of it.)
To begin with, the shutters were too long. I used an arm saw to cut off length on the end. I ended up having to wood glue and nail the middle bottom wood pieces back into place. Time to use some white Rustoleum to spray paint those bright red shutters. It took 3ish coats of spray paint to get an even finish.

Time to Include Pallet Wood

For the Shutter anchors/separators, I used pallet wood cut to size. I had four cut and ready to attach another day. When I came back out the next day to complete it, I’d found that the fourth board on the right end had been taken. None of my girls confessed to it, so I had to assume it was a neighbor boy who tended to find his way into my garage…or backyard. I was pretty annoyed because of the extra work to rip a new board.


What I don’t seem to have taken a picture of was the routering I had to do on the top edge of that bottom front panel. The dresser had a rounded edge that needed to be flat for the shutters to rest on for a finished look. If I hadn’t cut it off, it would have looked quite odd. One of my first routering projects was an Oar Server. I’ve come a long ways since then.


After I attached the pallet wood strips with wood glue and a nail gun, I was ready to paint.

Bring on the Paint

Typically, I use Fusion Paint, but decided to give this milk paint a try. I used my Michael’s coupons to get a good deal (I can’t not) on a surface primer and a white milk paint for the outside. I wasn’t impressed with the way it coated, so I haven’t used it again.

Hinges from good ole Lowes came only in gold and silver. I decided to use some spray paint I had on hand for a more bronzey brown color.

Not pictured was the drilling of holes in the shutters to place the spray-painted dresser knobs. I had old knobs from a previous dresser refinish that were perfect for this look. You can see them in the photos below.

After hours and hours of work, there came a day that I was ready FINALLY ready to finish by screwing the hinges into the last two shutters.
All there was left to do was bring it in and set it up! I was really surprised by how much my girls liked it and pleased with how impressed my husband was with the end result.
Dresser refinished into shutter buffet with doors open
Refinished Dresser
I made a shutter shelf to match but we kept the map up there for a more polished look.

Dresser Refinish Before and After

Isn’t it crazy how much you can transform an object just by generating an idea in your mind and putting your body into action?! The added bonus of woodworking and crafting is that it’s helping your mind escape and practice focus. It’s flexing those mental muscles you may not get to use at work or when you’re running around with your kids. If you are anything like me, you also feel more at peace when you are able to check out in this way. Here’s to finding inspiration and time to ‘check out’ for some you time. You’ll be happier when you do.

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Wood Paddle Platter for your Next Gathering

If you’re anything like me, you likely see creative possibilities all around you. Sometimes in comes in the form of more random options. For this easy woodworking project, I was inspired by an oar shape. After some brainstorming, I came up with this oar server idea. 


“She believed she could so she did”

My parents both grew up in the great state of Kansas before moving to Maryland, where I was raised. During my younger years, we would make the long drive once or twice a year to visit our many relatives. I now try to get out there every few years to spend a week visiting with as many in the area as we can. We made the trek to join in the family reunion with the family from these two fabulous people below, my paternal grandparents. They are a crafter and carpenter extraordinaire among a great many other things. The line of DIYers is obviously pretty long. In 2017 when this photo was taken, they were 91 and 94 years old. I can only hope to live as long and fruitful a life as these two.

Grandparents

During this particular reunion, the family was making carpenter stools to match my grandfather’s well-used one. My grandmother was also providing instruction on how to cut a chicken down to make her fried chicken. It was quite a unique and memorable affair. My family knows how to do it right.

grandfathers carpenter stool
Family woodworking at it’s finest. Look at the line of constructed stools. I certainly use mine plenty now.

It wouldn’t be a trip to my aunt and uncle’s house in Missouri without an exotic animal sighting. Missouri seems to have laxer animal rules, so there’s quite a bit of animal variety in the area.

Now on to the Project

Part of this particular Kansas trip included cleaning out my parents’ old shed, which happened to have a couple of boxes of ready-made wood forms. That wood was calling my name, so I had my pick of the stock along with my younger sister. I dragged my selection back to Maryland with me and piled them up to wait for creativity to strike. Some ideas came more easily but those oar shapes nagged at me to figure out what to do. Then it hit me all of a sudden; I’d practice my raw routering skills by making a food platter. I took a trip to Goodwill, found three perfect glass cups and to my garage I went.

Pile of projects
Pay no attention to the foot by the stack of raw wood forms.

I traced the bottom of the glass cups on the long portion of the oar and measured around the base to ensure I had an even border there. Then I used an older router to start cutting out the inside of my markings. It’s important to lock it tight when using a router. If you don’t, the blade will move deeper than you plan on it going. Unfortunately, the router I was using did not stay put and started digging in a little deeper than I’d planned. I can’t begin to describe the disgust I felt with this, so I ended up quitting it for quite a while and picking it back up when I got a handle on my frustration.

Routered oar server

Quick Fixes

Wood filler and a scraper solved the problem to even out the spots that happened by accident. After the wood filler was dry, I sanded it down as best I could using a medium grit (80 grit) sandpaper. Medium grit (60-100) helps with smoothing the rougher areas. For more significant marks, you’d go for coarse grit (40-50). It’s typically best to sand with a fine grit paper (120-220) to create a really smooth even surface before staining.

I’ve since starting using a much better router thanks to my parents, which makes completing projects soooo much easier. This Ryobi router serves me well now. I can’t say enough about having the right tools. Many of the ones I have are hand me downs or are older because I can’t spend the money on better versions of everything. If I had my druthers, I’d get a bunch of new tools to speed up my projects and save my sanity. You get the benefit of seeing you can still accomplish things without all the best tools.

Oar Server with router errors fixed
The bane of this project.

Staining

After the routering was complete, I did two layers of stain with a dark stain I had on hand. I keep old cotton white shirt strips handy for staining just like my mom used to do. My parents were avid woodworkers and often building cabinets, tables or trailers, among the list. My siblings and I helped complete many of the projects when extra hands were necessary. I’ve said it many times as an adult now that although I wasn’t so keen on it as a kid, I’m thankful for the skills gained by having had to help.

Oar server with final stain
There’s a light spot on the end here where I failed to get the stickiness off from some masking tape. Before staining, it’s always important to ensure the wood is completely clean of residue or glue. Sanding is important.
Oar server before polyurethane

The stain ended up being inconsistent in the wood filler spots. I decided the oar server would look better to do chalkboard paint on the inside. If you are looking for other simple projects with chalk paint, check out this easy frame project. Then I painted “Bon Appetit” with white acrylic paint and finished it off with two coats of polyurethane to seal it for food and washing. The clear coating really gives it the finished look as well.

Oar server ready to use

I put a twine hoop on the oar server for hanging to make it a multipurpose server and decor item.

Oar Server hanging as decor

Oar Server: Putting it to Use

Around the time I was working on this, I was attending monthly moms’ dinner nights. If you haven’t participated in these, it’s best described as one mom hosting and choosing a theme to create the main dish around. The rest of the attending moms/friends bring a dish to match the theme. This particular night was Mexican themed, so I went with homemade churros and three different dipping sauces. It all worked perfectly together as you can see below! It just goes to show that random finds can be made into something completely fun and useful. Here’s to inspiration finding you soon!

Oar server put to use at party
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