This article was originally published in the May 2017 issue of Cottage Life magazine.
I’m a fan of double-duty solutions—especially if they involve stylish storage. This cedar side table ticks both boxes, neatly disguising a spare propane tank near the grilling action while providing a perch for drinks when the party spills onto the deck.
It’s easy to build using off-the-shelf lumber—the three panels are identical but for the rail locations (offset so as not to collide). Plus, all the pieces are fastened from the inside. This not only looks better but will also help the table last longer by keeping water out of the wood.
- Western red cedar, rough sawn:
- 5 1×2 x8′ boards
- 2 1×4 x8′ boards
- 2 2×2 x 4′ balusters
- 116 1 1/4″ finishing nails
- 4 6″60D common nails
- Outdoor, weatherproof glue
- 18 1 1/4″ pocket screws
- 4 figure-eight clips
- 8 #6 5/8″ wood screws (for figure-eight clips)
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼1. Cut all your wood pieces to length. Working on a flat surface, assemble the front panel using glue and two nails per intersection. Keep the gaps between the slats even with spacers— I have 60D (1/4″-dia.) common nails handy for this. Align and square the first slat carefully to ensure the rest of the slats stay true. Repeat for the two side panels, remembering to offset the rails.
2. Attach the side panels to the legs (1 1/2″ from the bottom) with three pocket screws per leg. A jig will make these easy, but a pocket-hole drill bit is all you need for the pocket holes— start with the drill held perpendicular to the wood, so the bit doesn’t walk. Once the hole is started, angle the drill to complete the pocket. Apply glue to the joint before driving the pocket screws home. Note that the panels are set back 1/4″ from the face of the legs. Repeat this process to finish attaching the remaining panels to the legs.
3. To assemble the table’s surface, you’ll glue and nail the first cleat to the underside of the slats, 3 1/2″ from the side edge and 1″ from the front and back edges, using the same 1/4″ spacers. First, mark a line on the slats to help position the cleat before nailing (four in each intersection). Once all the top slats are attached to the first cleat, place the leg assembly on the inverted tabletop to help position the second cleat. Attach the top with screws and a figure-eight clip at the top of each leg.
4. Once the glue has set, lightly sand the whole thing to knock off any overly rough edges and splinters. Don’t overdo the sanding though—the rough-sawn finish of the cedar adds to the table’s character.
Looking for more DIY inspiration? Check out our special Get-ready Guide in the Spring 2017 issue—on newsstands now!