Old table with Roark enjoying the fire

About a Table

For those of you who have visited our house, you know that it’s relatively small. If you haven’t visited our house, it’s small – not tiny house small, but small house small. One of the things that Ellie and I have been trying to do is make the best use of our space. When there are eight mammals that share a small living space, things can get crowded and cramped. We’ve had many projects around the house like building shelves for our jars:

Jar Shelves around the stovepipe.

Hanging our bikes from the wall rather than having them taking up floor space:

Green room bikes hanging.

Cold room bikes hanging

Not pictured projects are shelves in the affectionately named cold room, a wine rack for mead that neither of us drink anymore, and improvising storage underneath a futon for bedding and the like.

The latest endeavor was to replace our kitchen table with something that is more space-efficient. Here’s the best pictures that I could find to illustrate how much space the old kitchen table took up in the kitchen:

Old table with Roark enjoying the fire

Old table and Troy Barnes (Cameo Mona)

Pictured in the background. Cameos by Troy Barnes and Mona Begonia.

As you can see, it takes up a majority of the floor space in the kitchen. Here is how the new table sites in the space:

Finished table and stools

Our old table became a landing strip for stuff when we got into the house and we were never able to use it as a place to eat. One of the best features of the new table is that it collapses against the wall, taking up less space than the windowsill:

Folded table looking at the window.

Folded table looking at the green room

Ok, so now, how was this all accomplished. First thing I acquired were some collapsing hinges. I ended up with these from Eureka Manufacturing in Ireland.

Hinges procured, it was time to start focusing on the design. I had a vague idea of what we wanted, but wasn’t able to put it together until I knew what kind of hinges to use. Here are the sketches that I made (including a shopping list):

Blueprints Shopping List

I had the plywood cut to size at Lowe’s (since their saw is much easier to use on plywood than a circular saw). The trim pieces were cut by hand using a 45 degree angle saw jig and a rough-cut saw. The supporting pieces were cut using the same hand saw and jig, but at 90 degree angles.

Once everything was cut, I started framing the table together. The supports going across the table are primarily to help attach the trim and hinges to the table and less for actual support, 3/4″ oak plywood is quite rigid on its own. The trim was attached using glue and trim nails and left clamped overnight to dry.

I framed everything together on a Friday evening after working. The next day was full of routing (5/32″ round bit) the edges and sanding, sanding, sanding, and more sanding.

When it comes to finishing, I started by cleaning off all of the dust from the sanding and applying some Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. The color comes from Minwax Early American stain, applied in two coats and wiped away after 10 minutes. The stain got left to dry overnight.

The next day was three coats of Minwax Gloss Polycrylic (sanding between coats, of course) and mounting. Upon mounting, I realized that the threaded rod that was provided was too short to go between the braces, so I had to improvise. My work on challenge courses lead me to gravitate toward cable and cable clamps. The two hinges needed to have their releases tied together somehow and the cable worked great. Here are some close-ups of the hinges installed and connected to the release handle:

Under table cable detail showing the braces and the cables.

Under the table looking at the release lever.

The last hidden hurdle was associated with getting the table to collapse flat against the wall. There is a power outlet that sits under the table (as can be seen in the photos) and our existing power strip stuck out too far from the wall to allow it to fold completely. The cables coming from it were also quite disorganized. So, a Belkin surge protector with a flat plug was installed, the cords zipped tied, and the strip mounted under the windowsill:

Close up of the Belkin plug.

Folded table looking at the green room

Ta-daaa! The table was finished and ready to be used! It spent a day folded so that the Polycrylic could dry without animal interference.

We needed a way to sit at the table, so after trying several different options, we decided that I would have a 24″ stool, and Ellie would have one that was 30″ so that we both were at eating height for the table, but after that, it was full-steam ahead!

Finished table and stools

It’s been used daily for dinner, in the mornings for eating breakfast, in the evenings for studying, and will also be used as a standing desk to work from home. It’s nice to have a table and seats looking out into the yard so we can watch our puppies do dog things outside while the cat enjoys sitting on the cat blanket in the window.

BONUS: Roark using a stapler as a pillow!

Roark using the stapler as a pillow