Utility Room Table - Learning New Skills

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Project by velo_tom posted 05-03-2010 12:26 PM 2802 views 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This table took me almost two months to build. Keep in mind I am beginner and instead of building something quickly with power tools I wanted to use this as an opportunity to learn new hand work skills. The materials were scraps from various home improvement projects. The frame is made out of two by fours that were so badly warped and twisted I was afraid they couldn’t be salvaged. The only power tools used in the project were for cutting the plywood and initial oversized length cuts on the two by fours.

After watching a Jim Kingshott Bench Planes video I was able to use the skills he taught to square and dimension the two by fours using hand planes. The first board took me a couple hours, the next was faster. After doing several I could square up a badly twisted slightly bowed board in about 40 minutes. The final dimensions of the two by fours came out to about 1 1/4” by 3 1/8”. The boards I used for the shelves edges were not in such bad shape and I was able to make them four square in about 15 to 20 minutes each.

The frame was joined together with mortise and tenons. I used haunched tenons on the cross rails and draw-bored tenons on the fore aft rails. The center rails are joined with half lap dovetails. All were cut using hand saw, chisel, and shoulder planes. A router plane was used for the bottom of the half lap dovetail sockets.

The table sets over a sump pump so we wanted the shelf edges to protrude upward enough to keep objects from falling from the table into the sump. The upper shelf edges going around the back are dovetailed together. I had never cut dovetails before and again watched videos to pick up the procedure. I was off to a shaky start when I cut the pins instead of the waste out of my first set. I kept this mistake in plane view as I cut the rest of them and didn’t repeat that mistake.

I experimented with different methods of cutting the dovetails: cutting pins first then tails, tails first then pins, sawing to my layout lines, sawing slightly to the waste side of the layout lines and chiseling to the lines. The method I found that works best for me and perhaps would be good for other beginners to try was as follows. Saw the tails first, chisel the sides flat. Use the tails to mark the pins then saw them slightly over sized. Pair the pins to final fit. The pins are easier than the tails to pair down precisely in size and I had good fit up after using this method.

I used moving fillister planes to cut rabbets and wide fillisters in the lower shelf edges to allow them to glue better to the shelf and legs. The lower back cross edge fits into dados in the fore-aft edges. The dados were cut with a saw to define the edges then a router plane to hollow them out.

I made lots of mistakes but didn’t let any of them upset me. I figure there is no way to learn new skills without making mistakes and learning from them. I learned many new skills during this project and have accepted the fact that I will spend the rest of my life trying to perfect these skills but never being able to achieve that.

-- There's no such thing as mistakes, just design changes.

9 comments so far

View seriousturtle's profile


101 posts in 4549 days

#1 posted 05-03-2010 12:44 PM

Looks like a rewarding project. Good job.

-- ~the turtle

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 4286 days

#2 posted 05-03-2010 02:23 PM

Excellent job!! Thanks for posting.

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View Jim Reeves's profile

Jim Reeves

211 posts in 4242 days

#3 posted 05-03-2010 02:51 PM

Hey Tom, very nice project, thanks for posting detailed step by step pictures.
The 2 months was worth it other beginners like you inspire me as a beginner to take on projects that maybe l would not other wise tackle.
So many great woodworkers men/women on this site we can all learn from them.
Great job Tom.

-- jim

View ND2ELK's profile


13494 posts in 4992 days

#4 posted 05-03-2010 03:03 PM

Good looking table. Very nicely done. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4794 days

#5 posted 05-03-2010 03:08 PM

Boy O Boy, that is one fine looking Laundry Table.
With that joinery, it should last forever.
I love the way you worked the wall pipe obstruction right in to your design.
Your hand plane skills took a jump forward I bet.
Great use for that space in that room too.
Really nice project.

View NedB's profile


659 posts in 4784 days

#6 posted 05-03-2010 04:40 PM

I wondered about the railing, excellent build!

-- Ned - 2B1ASK1

View NedB's profile


659 posts in 4784 days

#7 posted 05-03-2010 04:41 PM

I wondered about the railing, excellent build!

-- Ned - 2B1ASK1

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4334 days

#8 posted 05-04-2010 09:09 PM

great project with a lot of work
thankĀ“s for sharing


View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4022 days

#9 posted 01-15-2012 07:13 PM

looks good to me…I think ya done gr8.. if we didn’t make mistakes, we wouldn’t be good woodworkers.. lol

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

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