A few years ago I made a side table for a friend as a wedding gift. She recently asked me to make another one to match, so I decided to record the process and share it with you all! This hairpin leg table is a relatively easy DIY. You can complete it in a weekend, and most of the time is just letting the stain dry. I buy hairpin legs on Amazon, and then built the tabletop. I’ve also used the hairpin legs on other projects. They come in different sizes-this side table uses 16″ legs, but I’ve used 12″ legs for a coffee table and 28″ legs for a desk.
In addition to the hairpin legs, here’s what you’ll need to make the tabletop:
- 2″ x 4″ boards, cut to the size you want to make the frame (my finished table is 18″ wide by 21 3/4″ long, but you can adjust to the size you want
- 1″ x 8″ boards to make your table top (these actually end up being 7 1/4″ wide instead of 8″ so keep that in mind when planning your dimensions
- Speed square
- 2 1/2″ screws
- 80 grit, 120 grit, and 240 grit sandpaper
- Wood stain (I used Varthane stain in special walnut because I was matching a previous project. Since then, I’ve switched to using this eco-friendly water based stain.) An 8oz can is more than enough for a side table
- Polyurethane sealer
- Optional: wood conditioner. I don’t use this with the eco-friendly stain
Steps to make a hairpin leg table:
Once your framing pieces are cut and measured, mark where your screws are going to go to attach the pieces to each other. You want them to be about 3/4 of an inch from the edge of the board so they land in the middle of the connecting piece. Use your speed square to measure and mark so they’re even. Then drill pilot holes with a drill bit one size smaller than your screws:
Line up your framing pieces and screw them together. I chose to put the shorter pieces on the inside and screw from the outside. You want to make sure your frame is as level as possible here so your finished table is level. A corner clamp would be really useful. I didn’t have a corner clamp so even though I used the floor to keep everything level, my pieces were slightly off alignment and the finished table was a little wobbly.
If you don’t want to see your screws, you can use pocket holes to attach the frame pieces together from the inside. If you don’t want to see the edges of your frame boards, you can miter the edges so they come together at an angle in the corners. There are explanations for both processes in our farmhouse table DIY post.
Mark where your screws will go on your 1″ x 8″ tabletop boards. You’ll want them to be 3/4″ from the edge of the board like you did with the frame boards. Then screw them onto the frame.
Prep your tabletop for staining by sanding it down. Start with a coarse sandpaper, like 80 grit, and give it a pass to buff out any stains in the wood. Then run over it again with a medium grit like 120, and give it a final pass with a high grit like 240. Clean it off really well to get rid of any loose sawdust.
Next, follow the directions on your can of stain to stain the table. If you’re using an oil-based stain like I did, a wood conditioner will help it go on more evenly. If you want a deeper color, layer multiple coats of stain, allowing it to dry in between layers. If you are using an oil-based stain, do not leave the dirty stain rag sitting out. Oil-based stains release heat as they cure, and a dirty rag left in a heap can spontaneously combust. Follow the directions of your local hazardous waste disposal plant to properly dispose of the rag.
Give the tabletop a quick brush with the 240 grit sandpaper and clean off any sawdust, then seal it with polyurethane. If your table is going to be getting a lot of wear and tear, you can do two or three layers of polyurethane. Just sand with the fine grit sandpaper in between layers.
Attach your hairpin legs to the underside of the tabletop with the screws provided. It’s helpful to use clamps to hold them in place. Start by drilling pilot holes with a drill bit one size smaller than your screws. Then attach with the screws.
You’re done! Flip your table over and enjoy it! If it’s a little wobbly like mine was, check to see which leg is the culprit. In my case, one leg was off and shorter than the others. One option to solve this without taking the whole table apart is to shim it up with something in between the leg and the frame. I took the leg off and added a few washers to the screw to help level it off. You can also use the hairpin leg feet if your set comes with them.
If you make this hairpin leg table, please send us your photos! We’d love to hear from you in the comments below or on social media. Also, check out our email newsletter for monthly updates and exclusive content.
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