If you’re like many people, the idea of building your own furniture can feel pretty intimidating. Re-finishing or painting or upholstering – all of those are DIY projects that at least start with the item to be upgraded. But building a piece from scratch can feel like a whole different ball game. Except for some pieces of furniture. Some pieces look chic and on-trend…while being pretty straightforward and simple to build. The hairpin leg side table shown in this tutorial is a perfect example of how this can happen.
You can customize it to work anywhere in your home – as a nightstand, an end table, a sofa table, a side table, etc. The list is limitless, really. And the best news of all is that it’s not that hard to DIY. Ready to get started? Let’s do this.
DIY Level: Beginner to Intermediate
- Four (4) 1×8 white / common boards, 20” long each
- Two (20 1×6 white / common boards, 14.5” long each
- Four (4) hairpin legs in the finish of your choice (example uses 16” solid steel in 3/8”)
- 16x 1-1/2” #8 wood screws (example uses brass)
- 12 3/4″ #8 wood screws
- Wood stain
- Polyurethane or polycrylic
- Drill, paintbrush, rag
With your white boards cut to size, you’re ready to begin. Find the drill bit that is slightly smaller than your screw. For my #8 screws, I used a 9/64” drill bit.
Line up two of your 1×8 boards. Make sure their lengths match. (If you have the kind worker at your local home improvement store cut your boards for you, there might be ever so slight discrepancies with their lengths. Even though the differences are probably minimal, pair them accordingly – put the two longest boards together, and pair the two shortest.
Lay the 1×6 board on the end of your two white boards. This is to get an idea for how much space you have to work with when you are pre-drilling your holes. Because you will predrill – whenever you put a screw near the end of a board, you’ll want to predrill to avoid its splitting.
Drill two holes at the end of each board, being careful to keep it in the center of the space provided by the 1×6 board’s end.
You’ll have a total of four holes drilled for one side of one level (top or bottom) of your table.
Rotate your boards and do the same on the other ends, so you have eight total holes predrilled.
You may or may not notice wood chunks missing from the underside of your board (where the drill pokes through). As a result, these sides will become the underside – either the underside of the top of the side table, or the underside of the bottom of the side table.
Partially screw your 1-1/2” screws into your boards from the top. Screw them in until the screw’s point is flush with the underside of your board but not any further.
Support one end of your 1×8 board on something (a quart-sized jar of wood stain works great for this), and position the 1×6 board under the other end. Hold the two boards tightly together with all ends flush, then finish off your screws into the side of the 1×6.
So far, so good.
Follow the same steps and attach the second 1×8 board, being careful to keep the best side up and the 1×6 board flush on all counts.
Partially screw in four more 1-1/2” screws to the other predrilled holes on the other ends of your 1×8 boards. Move the wood stain jar and place the second 1×6 board under the other end, then attach.
One tip as you’re attaching your pieces: If your pieces cut end up not being exactly even (my 1×6 boards were apparently cut about 1/16” too long), you can kind of “hide” this fact by putting the sticking-out end at the back of your side table. So you’ll want to make sure one side is perfectly flush; this will be your table’s front. Any imperfections or whatever can stick out the back end. But be sure both 1×6 boards are attached in the same way, with regard to which end is “front end” and which is “back end.” (Photo shows what became the back end of my table.)
Attach second 1×6 board.
If there is slight torqueing of your board(s), you can remedy this by holding it tightly in place, then screwing it into place as though it were a straight board. Hopefully your boards are straight as an arrow, so this advice won’t apply to you.
Repeat steps for attaching the bottom level of your hairpin leg side table. Remember to keep any wood-chunk-missing sides, if applicable, facing downward.
Use a fine-grit sandpaper (220, for example) to smooth out any and all sides, edges, and corners.
Grab your wood stain and follow the instructions on the label for application.
I found that if I used the stain wipe-off rag for any wood ends (which tend to absorb the stain faster and more deeply, making them much darker than the flat wood sides), absorption was slowed. Doing this will help the ends match more closely the rest of your closet.
Paint on, wipe off.
Use the tip of your paintbrush to stain the crack between the 1×8 white boards. Wipe away any excess immediately. After stain has dried thoroughly (as per the stain’s instructions), apply a coat of polycrylic or polyurethane with your paint brush, and let that dry thoroughly as well.
When your table is completely dry, it’s time to install the hairpin legs. Decide where you want them (shown are about 3/8” from both edges of the side table), and screw them in place with your 3/4″ screws. DO NOT PREDRILL, as this will likely result in visible holes in your table’s lower shelf.
Install all four legs, making sure they are evenly aligned.
Flip it over. Congratulations!
You’ve just built yourself a gorgeous piece of furniture.
Position it in your home, and enjoy!
We love the modern-yet-retro feel of this clean-lined table, complete with hairpin legs.
The lower shelf is a functional space that doubles as an aesthetic component of this simple side table.
The style of the table is so versatile in its simplicity.
The table has components of mid-century, industrial, rustic, and contemporary styles, all rolled into one.
It’s a statement piece, but a subtle, laid-back one. And you made it yourself!
You just might need to build two or three more of these…for gifts or for yourself.
What do you think of your DIY hairpin leg side table? We hope you enjoy it in your space.