Making My Side Table Series

Intro FinalOn we have been making an occasional or side table by hand. I didn’t realise this table series would be so popular. I designed it many decades ago and have made many a dozen and sold them or given them to my family and friends. This is a foundational course project that I designed as a training project for new woodworkers and those new to hand tools. They take me a day to make and I can sell them for between £200 to £275 depending on the wood. How to Make a Table IntroAs always it’s all beautiful handwork too. You can learn how to make this one and many a dozen and more other projects by becoming a member of  How to Make a Table 2The next project will be the Craftsman-style rocking chair and there will be other projects slotted in there too. How to Make a Table 1


  1. Wills Kitchen on 22 August 2016 at 8:21 pm

    If I ever get to a completion point with my bench I would like very much to make some of these for my family’s own enjoyment!

  2. Michael Barnes on 22 August 2016 at 8:31 pm

    At first I was concerned this project was too similar to the occasional table project and said as much in the comments but now I have changed my mind…Whilst the table is similar, the point of the project is different I think. The occasional table was about looking at how that table was made, what tools and techniques the craftsman used ( it was almost forensic in its approach) and then recreating the table to make a matching set. So I was wrong, I admit it…and I’m loving this new series…in fact I love this little table so much I’m planing on it being the next project on my path to becoming a woodworker. Many thanks…these masterclasses are truly invaluable.

  3. Brian on 22 August 2016 at 8:42 pm

    I’m getting closer to trying this project. Still going through the other ones before this in your book. Having great success so far. This will be a great project to test my skills and see what I have learned.
    So far the hardest thing I’ve found is squaring the wood. I know that’s just practice and repetition and every now and then I get it first try. Eventually I’m sure I’ll think back after I’ve mastered this and laugh at how hard I thought it was. 🙂
    Always looking forward to the next project.

    • Michael Ballinger on 23 August 2016 at 12:17 pm

      Oh man the road to developing skill with hand tools is not an easy one that’s for sure. I’m soooo much better today than when I started and there’s nothing more rewarding.

      • christopher Mitchell on 23 August 2016 at 7:19 pm

        yea, Thats a trip isn’t it. Finally learning how to square your wood by hand. I practiced, practiced and practiced and pulled half the hair out of my head but then one day it clicked. Why just last night I finally got a can stuffed it with the rag and filled it with 3-1 oil and I couldn’t believe the difference it made .
        I had been using wax and the camilo oil but Paul’s method made a world of difference. Between a freshly sharpen plane and the oil can trick I was also able to control the plane much better and easier.
        Sometime I wish Paul would just slap me upside the head, and say wake up hard headed and listen to what I’m saying. Sure would make my life

        • Paul Sellers on 23 August 2016 at 9:22 pm

          That can be arranged, Christopher!

          • Mike Ballinger on 23 August 2016 at 9:33 pm

            That’s taking ‘the personal touch’ to a whole new level

          • Marthijn on 23 August 2016 at 10:22 pm

            *Where is the like button?*

            Will you be doing a video on this one? 🙂

          • Brian on 23 August 2016 at 11:08 pm

            lol. That just made me smile. 🙂

  4. Jeremy Lamb on 22 August 2016 at 9:19 pm

    I am just about to start shaping the legs and have been putting it off for some time. I am sure that once I start it will not be as difficult to mark out as it seems. I have used oak bought as a waney edge plank. The hardest part was sizing and squaring the timber. It was with great relief that in your recent q&a that you said it was okay to use machines for the donkey work . In future I might try and get the boards planed to thickness.
    I am not a confident woodworker but the directions are good and easy to follow with some helpful tips.

  5. Marthijn on 23 August 2016 at 10:31 pm

    Very nice table! I made one similar to this one in a course I did here in Holland (but it had to be machined… Still did a lot of work by hand 🙂 )
    Ome big difference in design is the concave parts (don’t know the English term), mine is straight by design. I like this much better! I also made the 4 shelf wall unit as a end-project of the course, also, off course, by hand. It’s nearly done! I only did the rough dimensioning with machines. The teachers did not (or did not want to) understand why I would go through all this trouble, unfortunately, but that is their loss I would say…

    Thanks for all the inspiring words and teachings!! You truly are a blessing!

  6. S Yellin on 24 August 2016 at 2:14 am

    Paul, I love this project and am looking forward to the final installments of the series. If I wanted to expand this table to a full size table, perhaps 48″ x 28″, what size legs would you use? I believe these legs are 1 1/2 square at the top tapering to 7/8 at the bottom, which would seem to be too small for a larger table. Would a 3 inch square leg be more appropriate, tapering to perhaps 2″ square? With larger legs is a 3/8″ tenon still adequate or does that also need to scale up? Thanks

    • Michael Ballinger on 24 August 2016 at 10:36 am

      I was working away cutting a mortice the other day and an old boy wandered past my bench and boomed, “what is the size for a tenon”. I paused and said, not sure. He put his finger in the air and said, “one third of the thickness of your material” and wandered off. Of course that’s a rule of thumb but probably not a bad starting point for most applications.

  7. Dan Roper on 24 August 2016 at 10:56 am

    Yesterday was my birthday. To my great surprise I opened my gift to discover I am the proud owner of your new book. My Honey hears and actually listens to all the Master Classes as I watch them. The instant she heard me say you had a new book it was ordered and hidden away. To say I am thrilled would be a gross understatement. I am a lucky man whose mate buys him a coveted woodworking book . I am, by the way, loving the new table build. I am currently completing a five unit barrister bookcase and as soon as it is done the table will be next. I am so looking forward to it. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, you have changed my approach to working wood and I am a better craftsman for it.


  8. Jason on 5 November 2016 at 11:38 pm

    What changes to this design would you make if you were going to make a dinning table like this?