Thomas J. Story

How to make a contemporary indoor-outdoor table with a galvanized metal top

It's hard to find a good table that can function equally well indoors or on the patio ― so why not make one yourself? It may be easier and more affordable than you think.

Blending contemporary style and sturdy practicality, this indoor-outdoor dining table is a particularly simple woodworking project because key steps like crafting the legs and the metal top are done for you.

To make the tabletop, start by edging a rectangular piece of plywood with 2-by-2s.

Take it to a sheet metal fabricator and ask the shop to make a covering that fits over it like a shoe-box lid. Then glue the metal top to the plywood, sand and wax it, and add a set of ready-made legs.

The cost for this 42- by 60-inch table, including fabrication, was about $125. For a sheet metal fabricator, look in the yellow pages under Sheet Metal Work.

Sources for ready-made table legs include hardware and unfinished-furniture stores, as well as (800/897-1245). The metal top gets hot in the sun, so cover it with a tablecloth outdoors.


  • Tape measure
  • Square
  • Circular saw
  • Electric drill
  • Hammer
  • Electric sander


  • 1 sheet ¾-in. exterior plywood
  • 3 10-ft. 2-by-2s
  • Wood glue
  • 30 1½-in. deck screws
  • 16 1¼-in. galvanized nails
  • Galvanized tabletop (see step 4)
  • 1 tube heavy-duty adhesive
  • 200-grit sandpaper
  • Paste wax
  • Steel wool
  • Ready-made legs with metal brackets and screws

 Next: Instructions 


1. Cut plywood to a 42- by 60-inch rectangle; reserve remaining plywood for step 3. Cut 2-by-2s into two 60-inch and four shorter pieces (sized to fit perpendicularly between the 60-in. pieces).

2. Glue 2-by-2s around the edges of the plywood (see below), then screw on. Use remaining cut 2-by-2s as crosspieces: Equally space them on the plywood, glue in place, then screw on.

3. Cut four 6-inch squares from remaining plywood and butt one into each corner. Secure with glue and four nails.

4. Take the assembly to a sheet metal fabricator and have the shop make a snug-fitting top. (Ours cost $65, including materials and fabrication.) You can select from two styles of galvanized sheet metal: one with the familiar silvery, flaked finish, or a smoother-looking bonderized finish, which makes the metal paint-ready. (We chose the latter, though we left it unpainted.) Ask the fabricator to fold the sheet over the sides, covering the plywood and 2-by-2s, and solder the corners.

5. When metal top is finished (ours took one week), attach it to the plywood base with heavy-duty adhesive. Sand all exposed surfaces with an electric sander, creating a mottled surface to help mask the inevitable scratches. Protect the top with a paste wax made for antique furniture; the wax will deepen the metal's color. Burnish with steel wool.

6. Screw the ready-made legs with metal brackets to the plywood squares underneath the tabletop.

Another table project: Memory box tabletop

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