I feel old. I get excited about furniture styles now. Nope, this isn’t as cool as telling people about some indie rock band. No…I love Mid Century Modern designed furniture. So much so that I’ve been holding off on building it until I was confident enough to build it… now I hope you’re ready for quite a bit of it. First one out of the gate is this awesome two tier Mid Century Modern Walnut End Table. She’s a beaut right? Now time for you to build it too!
Tools & Supplies Used:
- Table Saw
- Router with 1/2″ round over bit
- Thickness Planer (if needed)
- Miter Saw
- Drill/Driver with 1/2″ bit or 1/2″ Countersink
- Jig Saw
- Spindle Sander (for shaping supports)
- Dowel Jig (if you use dowels to join the tiers)
- Clamps… so many clamps
- Bevel Gauge
- Flush Cut Saw
- Wood Glue
A quick note: The Walnut wood I used was rough cut in different widths and thicknesses so I had a lot of prep to go into this. If your material is ready to go, you don’t have to worry about milling your lumber like I did. I’ll be slightly converting my plans to general lumber dimensions for an easier build!
- 1/2″ Hardwood Dowel
- 1x8x72″ board
- (5) 1x6x96
- You can rip down the 1×6 to 2.5″ strips like I did for the legs and supports or buy (3) 1×3’s
End Table Step By Step
Step 1 – Prep Tiers
I mentioned above, but the lumber I used was rough cut walnut that was of varying widths and thicknesses. I ended up ripping them down to sizes similar to a 1×6 and a 1×8. To make life easier, we will use that going forward.
Cut two pieces of 1×6 and one piece of 1×8 to 33″+ for the bottom tier and do the same for the top tier at 20″+. The reason we are adding a little extra is because it allows for you to stagger and match the grain. Once the glue up has dried you can rip the sections down to the correct length. You can add biscuits, dowels or dominos to join the sections, but I just used wood glue and clamps.
Once the glue up was dry and cut to the correct size, I routed the edges with a round over bit.
Step 2 – Support Rails
As I mentioned above, I ripped my remaining 1×6 stock down to 2.5″ for the supports and legs. For the supports of the bottom tier, I cut two pieces to 29.50″ and for the top tier, 16.50″. In order to get the curves, I traced a curve I liked on to the boards and then cut out the curve with a jig saw. It does not have to be pretty.
I then temporarily attached the matching pieces together with double sided tape or clamps and ran them through the spindle sander until both pieces were matching curves. Once I had the desired shape, I rounded over the curved edges with my router and a round over bit.
Step 3 – Lateral Supports
Rip two more pieces down to 2.50″ and cut to 14.25″ for the inner supports. Just in case you have some slight changes in measurements or spacing during assembly, you might want to leave these slightly longer so you can go back and trim them during the installation. Using the router and the round over but, round the 14.25″ edge on one of the sides for each board.
Step 4 – Tier Support
Cut a remaining piece of 1×6 to 11″ for the tier support. Use the router and round over bit to round all four 11″ edges.
Step 5 – Cutting The Tapered Legs
And here is where things go crazy and you’re going to have questions. There are a lot of factors here, so it’s going to take some trial and error on your part to get it set. Ultimately, for the bottom tier, the table legs are going to attach 12″ from the edge and add 12″ of height to the table. For the top tier we’re going 11″ and 11″. After you get your stock cut down to 2.50″ widths again, you want about 17.50″ to 18″ for both of the bottom legs and 16.50″ to 17″ for the top legs. And then comes the taper…
If you head to my Instagram Post you can see I just made a shoddy tapper jig with scrap plywood and a few blocks. I wanted the foot to be an inch wide and then the top… who cares? You can use Tamar’s Taper Jig for a more official set up though.
Once you have your tapers cut, use a scrap piece of paper or plywood and mark out a 12″ x 12″ square. Starting at the bottom right hand corner, have the right edge of the smaller taper bisect the corner and then then left side edge bisect the top left corner of the square (see picture at top of section). The top and bottom edge of the square will now give you the angle (it’s around 50 degrees) to which you’ll need to cut the legs in order to achieve a level tier. Mark the angle on the legs, use the bevel gauge to set up and your miter saw and makes some cuts. Again… perhaps practice this on scraps first. Then take your round over bit and round the outside edges of the legs for the really great Mid Century Modern feel!
Plugs or Dowels?
Before we get to step 6, you need to decide… am I going to do this with screws and hide them with plugs or use only dowels? There’s no wrong answer. I’ll never tell you which method I used on my build, but ultimately the finished look is the same. If you use screws, you need to use a counter sink to make he 1/2″ holes with pilots. If you use dowels, a 1/2″ drill bit, forstner bit or spade bit will work as well. Just be conscious of blow out and use a sacrificial surface to drill in to.
Step 6 – Prepping End Table Tiers
Regardless of which method you’re using, you’re going to prep the tiers with the top side facing upward. I joined the the top tier in three locations to each bottom support. The supports are going to be inset 1″ inch from the ends, so the connecting holes need to be inset 2.25″ from the ends and 1.50″ from the sides. The middle connection is just centered off of the 1.50″ line as well.
The bottom tier follows the same logic with spacing. Just remember, if you’re using plugs, use the counter sink or if you’re using dowels cut all the way through. The one difference is for the holes that will attach the 11″ tier support. They sit on the 2.25″ from the edge and 7.25″ from the sides. You can add these same holes on the bottom tier as well. Or skip to Step 10 and see why I waited.
Step 7 – Tier Support
For both tiers, I lined up the supports with a 1″ spacing from the ends and a 1-3/8″ (ooh scary fraction!) from the sides. I then attached with wood glue and left them to dry clamped in place.
With the glue dried, I kept the clamps on and either drilled a pilot hole for the screws or drilled out a 1/2″ hole for the dowel.
Use the pre-drilled holes as a guide, but make sure you do not punch through the side support. With everything pre-drilled, add your screw or drive in your dowel or plug. Use a flush cut saw to remove the extra material then be sure to sand smooth.
Step 8 – Attaching The Legs
With the bevel cuts all figured out earlier, this should be as simple as marking 12″ in from the end and then glue (on the contact surfaces) and clamp the legs in place and allow to dry. Once the glue has dried (and with the clamps still in place, I drill from the outside support into the leg. Make sure you add a piece of sacrificial scrap wood on the other side of the leg to avoid blow out. Then add your screws or your dowels.
The top tier legs assemble exactly the same way, but you’re only adding one set. Mark out 11″ from the end without the holes. Glue and clamp, and then attach with screws and plug or dowels.
*Quick tip, before you permanently attach your legs, clamp them in place and see how close your beveled cuts were for a level surface. As you can see, the front left leg in this case is slightly off.
Step 9 – Lateral Supports
You cut these and rounded over two of the sides back in step 3! There are two ways you can go about adding these. You can just add glue in the areas of surface contact for the legs and side supports, clamp them and call it a day. Or you can add another dowel or screw and plug from the outside to secure the support into place. It might look a little crowded with three visible dowels in the same location, but they’ll add to the strength. Just remember the rounded edges are going to be facing away from the table.
Step 10 – Tier Support
Hopefully you listened and didn’t pre-drill your holes into the body tier for the tier support. Take the top tier and set it face down on the bottom tier and line up and mark the holes for the tier support. Then pre-drill your holes for countersinks or dowels. This way your holes will line up perfectly with both tiers. Add your glue, clamp into place, then drive your dowels or countersinks and plugs from the underside.
Step 11 – The End. Table.
Attach the top tier to the tier support and be sure to add a little glue under the short legs. Make sure everything lines up then clamp it into place. Add your countersinks and plugs or dowels from the top tier and clean up the excess. For the legs, after everything had dried, I did counter sink from underneath at an angle with screws just for added support. It’s risky because you could miss and damage the top of the bottom tier or you can blow right through the leg. So it’s up to you!
End Table Finishing
If you’re using a hardwood like walnut (why wouldn’t you?) I like to use either Rubio Monocoat Pure or Walrus Oil Furniture Finish and then buff in Wax. They both apply easily, make your grain pop and then hold up well over time.
If you liked this build you’re in luck! I will have a few more Mid Century Modern builds coming to match the theme in our new den. That snazzy velvet couch is the inspiration. Please be sure to leave a comment absolutely Pin This project to Pinterest!
Looking for a different End Table without the Mid Century Modern vibe? Check out this design used for The Builders Challenge season 7! Even though the contest is over, you can still build it!