So this is a bit of a funny story. I recently finished building a number of wood pieces for a local business, and one of those items was this cafe height table, which they use for joint rolling.
While I finished other pieces of furniture this sat in my shop, and I quickly took it over with sketches of designs, small tools, and even a laptop at one point.
I liked that little table so much I decided to build my own, modified version. And that brings us to this:
The top of this version opens to a compartment inside, and it features a shelf on the bottom.
I built this a few inches below standard bar height, both because I wanted to work on the top, and because I am short. You can easily adjust the height by getting longer legs for the bottom half. Are you ready? Here’s how to do this!
1 – 1×4 lumber @ 8′
1 – 5/8 or 3/4″ plywood @ 4′ x 4′
4 – 3/4″ galvanized pipe @ 18″
5 – 1/2″ x 36″ boards OR scrap lumber pieces to form top patchwork
4 – 3/4″ galvanized floor flanges
8 – 3/4″ galvanized couplings
casters (4 of them)
4 – 3/4″ galvanized couplings at about 12″
3/4″ wood dowel
4 – angle brackets at about 2 1/2″
brushes (foam are fine)
2 – hinges
Tools and such
*As always, remember to use proper safety measures. This is a pretty great little desk cart, but it’s not worth a finger or an eye or whatever.*
Step 1 Cut and assemble the box sides
The long pieces of the box are cut at 32″, and the short at 14″. That’s entirely subjective, and was based on nothing more sophisticated than that’s the amount of wood I had on hand. You can join the sides at 90 degrees, or get fancy and bevel cut them to 45 degree angles. If you have no idea what that means, just cut them square. If you think it’s all too easy, show off a little and do a dovetail or something.
Also, there’s not bottom to the box in that picture, my table is just way dirty.
To join them I simply glue them and finish nail. I recently picked up the Ryobi Airstrike, and it’s pretty much all that and a bag of chips.
Step 2 Cut the plywood, add the patchwork
You’ll need to cut the 4’x4′ piece of plywood into three pieces, each one 14″x32.” Don’t be fooled and do the bottom first. Instead flip the box onto its bottom (if you have a preference for which that is). Place the plywood down with a half inch spacer underneath to allow for the decorative top. This is where you have to McGyver it a bit. You’ll need to turn it back over and set a spacer underneath to hold the plywood where you want it. Mine was 2 1/2″ or something. With the plywood sitting 1/2″ below the frame you are going to form the patchwork design for the top. Of course you can make whatever pattern you like out of whatever wood you like. I used the cut off ends from other projects. If you use something other than 1/2″ thick material adjust the height of the plywood accordingly.
I like to make the patchwork pattern inside the frame so I can insure it is fit correctly. My ends were already at varying lengths, so I simply fitted them in and cut the end pieces off to fit the box. The final row had to ripped down to fit. You can plan around that if you wish to avoid it. I was kind of making it all up as I went along.
Glue the pieces down, press them with something hefty, and let sit overnight or so. Once it’s all set you can add the hinges.
A note about hardware: I didn’t like how anything I had on hand looked, so I grabbed a piece of scrap wood, about 1″ square, and used the sander to take back some material on the bottom of one side. I glued and nailed that down, and it is my handle to lift the top. That’s not a great photo of it.
Step 3 Fit the bottom
Step 4 Add flanges and first set of legs, glue dowels
*I am using this piece in the garage, and so I left the legs as is. You may want to give them a coat of spray paint to gussy them up before proceeding with the next steps.*
This is where things get a little creative. Screw the flanges onto the bottom of the piece. I placed them in the corners and screwed them into the frame of the piece. Then screw the 18″ sections into the flanges. Screw couplings onto the legs. In order to fit the shelf I added wood dowels. They don’t fit snuggly in the pipe, so I coated them with some Gorilla glue, which expands as it drys, and then wedged them with some screws, super fancy-like.
At this point I started wondering if I was going to work or I was going to have to destroy the evidence. Spoiler alert, it worked.
Let that dry for a few hours at least.
Step 5 Cut bottom plywood, fit
Still have that third piece of plywood? You are going to measure in about 1 1/2″ and drill a 3/4″ hole. I arrived at that 1 1/2″ measurement by getting as good a read as I could of where those wood dowels should land. Probably I shouldn’t admit that, but it worked, so whatever.
Add second set of couplings.
So far, so good. Looks kind of weird, though.
Step 6 Add second layer of pipe, dowel
You’ll need another section of pipe here to hold on the casters. They make parts that fit casters to galvanized pipe, but what I found was like $20 each. This works and is muy muy cheaper.
By the way, these dowels are not set to any particular length. Add glue to each, and fit it into the pipe, wiping up excess glue. Maybe don’t go crazy with the amount of glue here or it could possibly go down the pipe, squeeze out the bottom, and make a mess you’ll have to cut out with a utility knife. I mean, that could happen.
These pieces will need to sit flush or just inside the pipe so you can screw the caster into them.
Step 7 Add wheels
After the glue has set and the dowel fits tightly you’ll need to drill out a space for the caster bolt. Then screw in the casters.
Step 8 Stain and finish
I stained it all, minus the reclaimed wood on top, with Early American by Minwax, a decision I arrived at based on it being out on the table in front of me for another project.
The raw edge on that plywood isn’t the most attractive in the world, so I added some trim I happened to have on hand. You can do that if you like, or edge band it, or do nothing. Whatever floats your boat. Guys, I make this stuff up as I go.
I finished it all with some of my favorite Varathane Triple Thick in satin, and stood back and declared it good.
Are you still with me? Here’s where we ended up:
Not too shabby, eh?
It’s a bit of a wee thing, but this is the little cart…desk…thing that could. I mean, I have only had it for 24 hours, but it’s already pulling it’s weight out in the shop and helping make things a bit more convenient. Also, I think it could be a great place to store snacks that I don’t want anyone else to find, you know?
As always, thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any questions, and happy building!