Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Friday, May 24

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Creativity: Still Alive After 25 Warp Speed in a Convertible »

Feature Mon Mar 02 2009

Slatted End-Grain Side Table

Recently I decided that making simple furniture is something I should do more often, and in doing so, I should make some items others could do at home with a little knowledge and simple tools, or access to some other bigger tools.

This project is something that I've been thinking about for the past few months, a Slatted End-Grain Side Table with storage. I like plywood, I like it a lot, and multiple layers of wood stacked up just looks cool. Keeping with the theme, the project I had in mind was something that someone could make with limited tools and -- importantly -- stuff one could get at the local home center.

What You'll Need

Four 2' x 2' pieces of 3/4" birch plywood. Make sure it is plywood and not that fiber board stuff, which doesn't have that nice end-grain look. I used birch veneered plywood because it's sanded on both sides and has very few knots.

Four 24" quarter-inch threaded rods, nuts and washers and four cap nuts. This is what keeps the whole thing together.

A drill or drill press with a 21/64" bit and a small circle saw bit 3/4" or a forstner bit.

A way to cut slats of wood. Ideally a table saw, but you can use a circular saw if you set up guides and the like. I used a band saw and a guide at my
father's shop.

How to Do It

Making this side table is a relatively easy thing to do, provided you take the time to make your cuts and drill your holes correctly. The table I made is two feet square, but if you are so inclined to make it a different shape or size, go for it.

First off, cut two of the 2'x2' sheets of plywood into 1" slats; you should get about 46 slats and two pieces of scrap. If you have no way to do this with plywood, use an equivelent sized wood such as a square pine molding. It is sold in length, so you can make all your cuts with hand tools.

Next, using the 21/64" bit, drill a lot of holes: one at each end of the slats. Measure in from the end of the slat and mark where you want the rod to be -- I suggest an inch and a half for that Lincoln Log look. This takes awhile, so take your time (a drill press and a jig comes in really handy for repetitive tasks like this.) Measure, mark and drill one of the uncut sheets of ply with the 21/64" bit -- this will be the bottom of the table. The final sheet of ply will be the removable top; measure, mark and drill with the 3/4" saw bit or the forstner bit, which will leave room for the rods and nuts; the rods, nuts and cap nuts keep the top of the table in place. Take two of the slats and with a slightly larger bit -- something the size of the nut -- and drill in about a quarter of an inch. Set these slats aside for the bottom of the table.

I like the raw, unfinished look of the plywood, but you may not, so now is the time to paint all that wood. I suggest a water-based clear coat, sanded between applications.

After everything is dry it's time to put it together. Take two rods and put washers and nuts on the bottom; thread one of the set aside slats onto the two rods, and repeat with the other pair of rods. The nuts should be flush or just inside the plywood, which will keep the rods from scraping up your floor. Use some thick felt cushion pads to cover up the holes. Set aside the sheet of ply, as the bottom goes on next to create a base.

Next, start putting all the slats on the threaded rods, alternating directions for that open affect. When done with all the slats, bolt everything down snugly. You will notice some extra length in the rods; I tried to avoid this I couldn't find an 18" threaded rod anywhere, so to deal with this I simply used a hacksaw and cut off the excess. The best way to measure where to cut is to put an extra nut on the threaded rod and cut from the top of that. Removing the second nut will rethread the rod, so to speak. Then put the cap nut on.The last step is to put the top on, and enjoy your new table.

The table can be used for storage or as a lighted accent piece to your living room by simply putting a small diffused lamp inside with a low wattage bulb. For a clean look, drill a hole in the center of the base with the 3/4" saw bit and thread the cord through the bottom.

About the Author

Christian Scheuer, an artist, photographer and builder of things, works for a small gourmet bakery in Evanston, bringing sweet goodies to the masses in various coffee shops in and around Chicago. In his downtime, he makes "stuff for people who like stuff" and keeps a blog about his varied interests in design and things with wheels.

GB store

Bill X / March 8, 2009 8:12 PM

Love your slat end table. You should sell them on your site.

GB store

Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


An Angry White Guy
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Devening Projects
DIY Film
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Mess Hall
Neoteric Art
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
The Seen
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store



A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.

About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop,
A/C staff inbox:



A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15