I have not dug into the amazing craft of woodworking – yet – but I’ve gotten so many questions about the cedar table in our Lake House I thought I would add a brief post. 

I knew that I wanted one for behind our couch. When we have people over, we tend to have a lot of people over and it’s most often for a watch party of some kind, so additional seats facing the TV with a bonus of a countertop to serve as a buffet or place settings is perfect for our intended use.

As it turns out, the 36″ counter height I wanted is a little unusual for a table and so it’s typically custom work. Our couch is 11 feet wide, so I wanted a counter of at least 6 feet, longer being better for accommodating more seats if possible.

Custom Made Tables

I found some great looking shops, like this one on Etsy:

The length I want costs even more than what’s listed here. It’s within my budget, but I see a potential opportunity here. Besides, any excuse for a new project is good enough for me! Though I’m not a highly experienced woodcraftsman, the tools needed for this beyond basic hand tools are a sander and a drill, both of which I have.

The tricky part was finding the materials. I remember from a past project spending a lot of time and money tracking down mahogany lumber for a small boat-building project.

Sourcing the Wood

I live in that part of East Texas called the Piney Woods. We are surrounded by trees. I’m always stuck in traffic behind slow logging trucks. Guys are selling cheap firewood every half mile along the highway it seems. Hurricane Harvey knocked a couple down for sure, and construction is booming so lots are being cleared. There has got to be some nice-looking, inexpensive wood around here somewhere!

I know Craigslist is a great source for used wooden pallets, so I look there. Nothing on my first try, but there are some ads for hauling off single cut-up trees from yard clearing so I feel like something is bound to come up if I’m patient.

I also take a look at Facebook Marketplace, which is pretty much like a Facebook version of Craigslist, also localized to your area. Better, you can save things you are searching for and get notifications when new listings pop up. In only a few days, this appeared:

Yep – $20!

I messaged right away and they still had some. The $20 slabs were only 1″ thick, something I forgot to ask about before I drove to their place about 30 minutes away. But they had some 2 inch ones already cut that were perfect. Turns out these guys are a little mom-and-pop-shop lumberyard, and they’ll do custom cuts too. The 2″ slabs were $40, so I picked three to take home with me.

Why three? Because $40 is a steal! And I had two kids recently moved into new homes who might also want some, because yes, the whole family is full of project nerds of all kinds. And if they didn’t, boo-yah more for another project. Of course it is a little more challenging to hoard wood like I hoard craft bits and pieces, but it can be done sparingly before I can’t walk through my garage.

Cedar has a striking red core with blonde border underneath the bark. Stunning colors, and the red tones are a great fit with our red-toned cherry wood floors. I know, they look pretty rough here, but wait until the finish is applied – you’ll see how the colors just glow.

One thing about cedar is that the bark is pretty stringy and loosely attached from much handling – even unattached in patches so not great if you want bark, but I like the color and grain of the wood so this is still perfectly good for me, even though I have to peel all the bark off. Upside, it comes off pretty easily.

Sourcing the Legs

I want the beauty of the wood countertop to stand out and we have a wood floor as well so the legs will be a simple matte black metal ‘U’s. Hairpin legs are too thin looking yet I don’t want detailed metalwork to draw the eye away from the wood. 

After calling local metal fabrication shops for price comparisons I learned that the job was either too small for them or way too expensive (probably for the same reason) compared to this shop I found on Etsy – Outlaw WoodCraft. They had exactly the style I wanted and they have a wide range of lengths, including the longer ones I needed to get to the 36 inch counter height I was going for. Bonus, hardware and shipping is free!

Finishing

As I mentioned, I hadn’t planned on doing a full-on tutorial, but this is a great video on finishing wood if you’re looking for step-by-step guidance. Here’s a ‘before’ look as I began the sanding, and an ‘after’ look with the first coat of polyurethane.

Before:

…and After:

Amazing, right?!?

Here is the finished table:

The best part was how much my husband liked it – Yay! When these stools arrived, they were the wrong color of stained wood. Check out this post to see what I did about it.

Final Cost

With the wood at $40 and the legs coming in at $180, and about $30 for the sandpaper and polyurethane, by the time I was finished the final cost of materials was about $250. Not bad! More importantly, it was super fun and has me itching to try some more woodworking projects.

I hope you found this project inspiring and the resources useful. Happy Making!