In our conference area at work we had a rather interesting table. It was a huge poster of James Dean sitting on top of a piece of wobbly antique furniture. It was time to upgrade the desk to something more usable and fitting of serious meetings. Clients don’t like to sign expensive contracts on a wobbly table. It surely sends a message of sloppy workmanship and an attitude of “eh, good enough” that will give someone a little bit of subconscious uncertainty about our company.
The idea was to utilize some existing counter top pieces from IKEA. They were relatively cheap, easy to finish, and I could focus on an interesting frame to hold them up. I started with some 1 1/2″ steel tubing from the local metal place. I drew up a plan on a napkin and started cutting, cleaning, and prepping the steel for welding. I drilled holes in the frame so I could easily bolt the wood down to keep everything sturdy. For each bolt I put a small hole on the top and a large hole on the bottom of the square, so I could use a drill gun to tighten the bolt. It was much easier to measure and drill everything before I welded things together. It’s extremely difficult to steady a table frame on the drill press!
To solve the problem of legroom, while still allowing for leg supports at the bottom of the legs, I made some interesting looking 45 degree pieces and attached everything together. The key was doing some trigonometry to get the angles just right as the square tubing was getting joined together in non-right angles. Once I figured out the dimensions and angles of the cutouts I marked the tubing with a sharpie and removed the offending material with a cutter on an angle grinder. Once I laid it out on the ground I was able to fit everything together beautifully.
For the feet of the table I used some adjustable 5/8″ threaded feet. This way I don’t have to worry about getting the entire thing 100% level. Our floors aren’t level anyway, so that wouldn’t have helped.
I finished the steel with some Johnson’s Paste Wax, too keep it from rusting. It’s an indoor table, so the finishing can be light. I finished the counter tops with Tung Oil and put them on top. I also left the pieces separated by about an inch so electrical cords can be run up the middle to help keep a tidier desk for computers. The result is a useful, sturdy, elegant, and gorgeous table. I’m definitely proud of it.