Tutorial: plywood table with HAY trestles

 

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I fell in love with the HAY Loop Stand Table, but my wallet wasn’t too happy about the price. The table was simply too much, but the trestles were more affordable… 2 years ago this table seemed like a big project, but a bit of DIY attitude and curiosity goes a long way: it was rewarding and I definitely learned a lot!

The local timber center (Puukeskus for my finnish readers) sells birch plywood in 2 sheet sizes: 122×244 cm or 150×300 cm. You’ll have to buy the whole sheet, and they will cut it to size (straight cuts) for a minimal fee. I got the 21 mm, and the thickest they have is 24 mm.

After calculating, pondering and taping outlines to the floor I figured I wanted the dimensions to be about 100×180 cm. I recommend you get the shop to cut it for you with professional equipment. Plywood can be tricky to saw – and we’re talking a table here, it’s pretty important to get the edges just so!

I wanted the trestles to sit about 20 cm from the ends, and that left me with a span of 140 cm in between. Now that’s so much that the table will sag and sway unless you rigidify it.

This is where the project got tricky. I didn’t come to think the plywood sheet would sag and I wasn’t prepared for it. Now I know better – one thing I like about crafting is you get to solve puzzles like this. It can be a brain jog, but that feeling when the pieces click is ah-mazing! 😀

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This project clicked when I was hanging out at a hardware store. I didn’t want to add a ton of lumber under the table. I mean, it’s supposed to look very light and airy! And then I saw the solution: the Elfa wall mount rail was perfect for the job! It’s rigid enough without much bulk, sold in various lengths (anything between about 120 and 140 cm was good for me), has holes for the screws and comes in white! Hurrah!

The support and legs screwed in for stability (remember to select your screws carefully, so you don’t puncture the top of the plywood!), it was time to sand and coat the surface. I started with some 80- or 100-grit on an orbital sander and worked my way up to 240. Brush the dust from the surface between sandings.

Before the last sand I wiped the surface with a damp, almost wet cloth. This makes any remaining small fibers stand up from the plywood and once the surface is dry again, you can sand those away. I find this gives a smoother finish.

I used Osmo Color Wood Wax in White and Clear. I wanted an “untreated” plywood look but also a usable finish to protect the wood. That’s where the white tint comes in handy: if you just use a clear wood wax or oil, you’ll end up with a yellow tint in the birch – the kind of “oiled wood” look.

Working with the wax is easy, if you’ve sanded the surface smooth (also the sides and underneath!). I like to use a non-woven cloth, but an old t-shirt can work just as well. The trick is to add very little at a time, and to rub it in along the direction of the grain. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the grain direction in plywood, which makes it harder to get the color even. I watched the How to -videos in finnish, but I found some in english, too.

Just remember: with the tinted version any and all stripes or dots visible on the surface will stay like that, if you let them dry. I like to take a fresh piece of cloth to buff the surface a few minutes after I’ve spread the coat. Thin coats are OK, you don’t need much for a good seal with this stuff!

In the top photo you can see I only did about 15-20 cm under the table – I don’t think there’ll be too many spills that get under there, so I got lazy. I venture to guess things might be different if I had kids around… If in doubt, finish the underside as well! 🙂

A thin coat dries enough to re-apply in about 4 hours or more, if it’s very humid or cold. After 2 or 3 coats of the tinted wax I’ve let it dry for a day or two before adding the clear top coat(s). Aftercare is very important: I don’t put anything on the surface for at least 24 hours after it’s finished. I also protect the surface for about a week before using it heavily, since the wax will need time to harden. The wax will protect against liquids beautifully, but the wax (or the plywood) can’t handle direct heat, so use coasters for hot things!

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Here you can see the difference between finished and untreated plywood. On this table I did 2 white coats and 1 top coat.

Thanks for reading, I hope you liked it! 🙂

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Tutorial: Pallet sofa part 2

In part 1 I showed how I put together the structure of the sofa, and now we’re gonna take a look at the cushion. I wanted to keep it simple and compliment the boxy shape of the pallets. Fortunately this also meant that the materials were easy to find on the cheap!

You can buy foam material by the meter or cut to shape in many places (I’ve used the finnish Etola on other projects), but I happened to be at Ikea when I was mulling the options for the cushion and got lucky: there was a 80×200 Sultan Fonnes in the discount corner for half the price! Being the easiest option, I just bought another to match and went home happy.

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This is how I laid out the mattresses, one is whole and the other is a small piece from the end (you can see the cut Fonnes behind the sofa on the top pic). Cutting the mattress was easy: I cut the fabric cover with scissors along my markings and then sawed the foam with a hand saw. I used a wood blade with pretty small teeth in the saw. The bigger the teeth, the rougher the edges. On the other hand, a very fine-toothed hand saw will take forever to cut through…

After cutting I stitched the covers together with thick yarn – stitches hold better in the fabric than the foam. The Fonnes also have stitching on the fabric cover, making them look stripy, but I wanted my sofa to be smooth. To cover the stripes I bought some old comforter from the recycling center and laid it over the mattresses. It’s easiest to just smooth it over and cut the corners when you have it positioned like you want. The inside corner was a bit trickier, that needed some extra material from the cut away pieces to cover the missing piece. After it was laying like I wanted it to, I stitched the corners together and the edges to the Fonnes cover material.

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I wanted a white couch and had just enough white canvas left over from a previous project. This is my plan on cutting the fabric, I find it’s best to draw a plan. The plan doesn’t need to be fancy – just take a look at the crap I drew! That way you’ll know in advance that you’ll have enough for what you need, or in case it won’t be enough, you’ll still have that piece uncut for some other project.

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I started by sewing the edge pieces together so that I ended up with a long circle of edge. Then I pinned and sew that edge piece to the top piece, making sure the corners aligned. After fitting it on the cushion I top stitched the edges to make it look finished. With a fabric that drapes easier that might not have been necessary, but I found the thick canvas looked pretty messy without the top stitching.

I didn’t have enough to use the canvas on the bottom of the cushion, so I used some thinner cotton fabric for that. I got a piece just like the top but about 1 cm smaller all around, so the edges of the canvas would wrap under the cushion and be covered by it. The back seam I left open, so I could slide the mattress inside the cover. I thought about sewing a zipper in there, but I didn’t have a long enough zipper and I’m also hoping I don’t need to wash the cover too often. That’s might be a future project, if I feel like it at some point.

Then I discovered I should’ve spent some extra money to buy a white comforter: that bright color totally showed through and tinted my white cover fabric reddish! I definitely didn’t want a pink couch, so I had to sew another “under” cover for the sofa, this time from the thinner cotton fabric. After sewing I hand-stitched the lower back seam and figured I’ll just rip it if I need to wash the under cover as well. Then I slid the top cover on and stitched the lower back seam in a similar way, and called it a day. It took me about a week of evenings to finish everything, and this is how it turned out!

I hope you’ll find this tutorial helpful/inspiring! If you decide to make something similar, please let me know! 🙂

Tutorial: pallet sofa part 1

I got a couple of comments and likes to my first post. Whoa – how awesome that someone actually read my blog?! 😀 After I got over my initial surprise, I realized Mckenzie from Why Buy it? DIY it. had a great point. I should definitely do a tutorial on the sofa! I’ll start with the bones and do another tutorial for the cushion.

I’ve had the pallets for a while. They have been a coffee table and a head board at my previous home. I found them from somewhere, sanded the outer surfaces and put a thin coat of Osmo Wax in white on them to keep them from yellowing. It’s not necessary to do anything with the surface if you don’t feel like it, I just thought they were a bit too rough for furniture use as they originally were.

The pallets I have are the EUR kind, which measures 80×120 cm. I wanted the sofa to be max 2 meters in width, so I figured I’d make a J-shaped sofa, since that fit my space best. Word of advice: it’s much easier to sew a cover for a simple rectangular cushion. If you don’t absolutely need a weird shape on the sofa or aren’t comfortable sewing, go simple!

The legs are simple, white square metal legs from Bauhaus. I wanted a comfortable seating height, and since the cushion and pallet add a lot, I went with 20 cm legs.

This is how I layed out the pallets, legs and the steel plates that connect the 2 pallets.

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There’s a long piece of laminated wood that I had sitting around. It’s there to give my sofa structural stability when there’s more people on it. It was creaking before I added that, so I figure it might be a good addition. 🙂

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This is a close-up on the steel plate and also some smaller pieces that I had around. The corner pieces are Ikea kitchen cabinet hanging things, if I’m not mistaken. Ikea parts are versatile… I’m a big fan of IKEA Hackers 😉

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You might need to add some bits and pieces to make the parts fit. I had to put small supports under the beam on the other pallet, so it would support the  top boards. This will totally depend on the type of pallets and other parts that you use, and you’ll most likely just have to figure it out as you go.

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So here we go! This should give a DIY-minded person a pretty good overview of the supporting structure of my sofa, but if you need more instruction or photos, don’t hesitate to ask! I don’t have any official training in carpentry or woodworking – I’ve learned by trial and error, and asking for advice and help when I needed them. 🙂