With about $30 in lumber and a bit of your weekend, you too can build an outdoor side table inspired by a $400 designer version.
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products I used in building this outdoor side table.
Happy Monday folks!
I am so excited about this project – in fact, I’d say it’s my favourite build so far this year!
I’ll start at the beginning; my parents very kindly gave me their “old” patio set. I put “old” in quotes because they’ve only had it for a year – so it’s actually a very new set BUT it didn’t come with an outdoor side table.
If you have followed me for awhile, you know my ultimate staycation is spending time on the patio with a book and a cup of tea – so a side table is a must-have.
I searched online for ideas and options and came across this beauty from Article:
It was love at first sight – this table is BEAUTIFUL!
But WAY out of my price range at $399 US.
The Toba from Article is made from teak wood for the table top and then powder-coated metal for the legs – but I had a feeling I could make something that looked pretty close without spending nearly as much…
I futzed away with some drawings using the same table height and diameter and managed to come up with building plans to make my own outdoor side table from wood!
You may not be able to hear me squealing, but I am. I absolutely LOVE taking beautiful design and recreating it myself.
Plagiarism – maybe? Affordable – definitely!
(2) 16″ x 2″ x 3/4″ for the base
(4) 27″ x 2″ x 3/4″ for the table legs
Outdoor side table
I started by cutting the base pieces with a 42.3° on either end running opposite to each other. Your finished length on the long side will be 14″.
I then set up my table saw so that the blade was only as high as half the height of the wood – so 1″. This will take a bit of futzing to get accurate, so make sure you have a scrap piece of wood to test on before cutting your good pieces.
Mark the centre of your base pieces and then 3/8″ on either side of the centre line. This will show you where your ¾” half lap joint should be.
Using a cross-cut sled, run the SHORT side of one board over the table saw blade inside the lines you just drew. This will set up the shoulders of your joint. From there it’s just a matter of running your board over the table saw a few more times to hollow out the centre section.
Repeat this with the LONG side of the other base piece.
Do NOT try to do both pieces at once or you will end up like I did:
Yes, I ran two boards through at the same time, both on the short side and now one of my base pieces is upside down. 🤦🏻♀️
Always learning the hard way (ugh!)
I milled another base piece and repeated my half lap joint on the proper side.
If your blade height is accurate, when you set one base piece into the other it should be flush (or very close to).
You’ve just made a half-lap joint!
Next I set my mitre saw to cut a 43° angle on the base of all four table legs. Your legs should line up with your base piece like this:
Mark your base and leg at the joint with two lines approximately 1 ½” long. (the length of a dowel). I found the centre and then marked about ½” on either side of it, but placement is up to you. The important part is to mark both the base and the side pieces while they are together for accurate dowel placement.
I used ¼” dowels, so I attached a ¼” drill bit to my drill, found the centre line on the angled side of both pieces of wood and drilled the holes to just longer than half the dowel.
Test your fit and then repeat on the bottoms of the remaining three legs.
Use outdoor appropriate wood glue and apply glue in the holes and along the face of the base pieces, as well as in the holes in the leg pieces. Clamp tightly and let the glue set.
Once the glue is dry, mark a line 22 ½” up each leg. Use a large ruler to connect the marks from one leg to the other – this will give you the angle for the top of each leg.
Use your mitre saw to cut on those lines.
Fill your half lap joint with outdoor glue and set your pieces together.
Next we’re going to create the outdoor side table top – which, according to the Article Toba table, consists of two layers of wood approximately ¾” thick.
Feel free to save some work here and make your table top from just one layer of 1 ½” wood, or stop with a single layer of ¾” – but I really loved the look of the double layer and thought having a table top with some weight to it would be better in outdoor weather.
I jointed, then glued my boards together in 12″ widths (by approximately 26″ lengths) since that was the most I could fit through my planer.
In the photo below you will see all of my pieces (4) glued up in 12″ sections, but clamped together to dry.
How many boards you need for this will depend on the width of the wood you are using. My poplar fluctuated from 3″ to 4″ wide, so some sections consist of 4 pieces and others of 5. Once glued up and planed down, the seams are negligible, so I wasn’t worried too much about consistency in sizing.
I planed down my poplar sections at the same time – this will ensure that all of your pieces will be exactly the same ¾” thickness.
Using biscuit joints, I glued two 12″ widths together and let them dry. To do this you’ll want to make sure your biscuit joiner is set to the thickness of your wood. Line two 12″ sections side by side and mark a few spots along the seam. These markings should line up across both boards so you know exactly where your biscuit placement should be on both sides. Fill the biscuit cut outs with biscuits and outdoor appropriate wood glue, glue the seam and then clamp until dry.
You should now have two ‘squares’ of wood that are ¾” thick, by ~26″ long and wide.
I used a router circle jig with a setting at 24″ to router the circle table tops from my squares.
If you don’t have a router, or haven’t made your own router jig yet; find the centre of your boards and use a string and pencil to mark out a 24″ circle. You can also cut this with a jig saw.
I offset the seams of my two table tops slightly to add a bit more rigidity and hopefully lessen any shrinking of the wood.
I coated one layer of my outdoor side table with outdoor wood glue, placed the other layer on top and then screwed 1 ¼” deck screws up through the bottom to hold them together tightly.
You can paint the base, stain it, or if you’ve used cedar or pressure treated wood; leave it bare. I really wanted the look of the Toba outdoor side table, so I used Benjamin Moore’s Arborcoat outdoor stain in Black Beauty to protect the wood and give the look of the powder-coated metal.
Pretty close right?!
After two coats, with a very light sanding in between, I attached the table top to the base with figure eight table fasteners. Each leg will be set in from the edge of the table by approximately 2″.
I attached small rubber table feet – just tacked into the base – to keep my outdoor side table base from sitting in moisture. This step is totally optional and again, will depend on the wood you’ve chosen to make your table with.
What do you think?!
I’m not sure you could get too much closer to the inspiration outdoor side table than this?!
I used a custom formula of Varathane Flagstone and Varathane Sunbleached stains (roughly 50/50), then added 3 sealer coats of an outdoor poly to protect my little beauty.
My DIY outdoor side table is more than large enough to hold a couple of drinks and a book or iPad (or both), and it’s weighted enough that it won’t blow over or away in the wind.
I really am thrilled with how this turned out – I LOVE IT SO MUCH!
I love it even more because it’s so close to the inspiration piece, but at $3.10/bd ft, my total cost in lumber (poplar) is approximately $30 CDN.
If I’d used framing lumber from a home improvement store, it would have been less still!
Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the tools that I do – you can still make a version of this table with a table saw, mitre saw, and jigsaw.
This turned out so well, I made up another top for my old and weathered patio table – that I’ll show you another day.
Have a great one!