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 Closet-Masters.com (800/897-1245). The metal top gets hot in the sun, so cover it with a tablecloth outdoors.
- Tape measure
- Circular saw
- Electric drill
- 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
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