Living in my van, I need items that are portable, lightweight and versatile. I had purchased a folding TV table to use as a dining table and laptop desk, but it was just too small. It held the laptop and cooling pad, but the legs didn’t allow me to place my legs under it comfortably, I had nowhere to put my notes and it wasn’t really steady when the wind kicked up. I needed something else, but larger tables were expensive and heavy.
My design has a table width of 24″ square. That allows me to utilize all the space as a desk or to have a dinner guest. I can put two or more of these tables together and have a dinner party. I’ll share my design with you.
You will need:
- · A piece of MDF, 24″ square.
- · ¾” PVC pipe, schedule 40
- · Four each 3/8″ carriage bolts, 3″ long
- · Four each 3/8″ cap nuts
- · 14 each 3/8″ washers
- · Construction adhesive
- · General woodworking tools
- · Sandpaper
- · Paint or stain (optional)
- · Six each ¾” PVC end caps
- · Two each ¾” PVC 90 degree connectors
- · Four each ¾” PVC slip connectors
- · Additional: four each 3/8″ eyebolts, 1″ long, washers and cap nuts for each table.
- · Ten 3/8″ washers
- · Heavy duty clothes hanger, wire cutters and metal file
- · Drill with bits
- · Measuring and marking tools
- · Two each ¾” T-connectors
- · PVC cement, clear. I like to use the all-in-one cement
- · Scrap 1″ or ¾” wood. Furring strips or 1-by-2 will work well.
Choose the best side for my tabletop and marked the underside. Measure and make a line on all four sides two inches from the edge. This identifies the corners, the places for the side mount pieces and the stop blocks. Things are pretty easy because all of these items will mount flush with the markings.
Marked the front and back center lines so that I would know where to put the stop block. It’s to the front. Measure carefully and make marks across the middle of the board horizontally and vertically so that the center is easily identifiable.. This will help everything to line up easily.
Make the braces for the table legs. Cut your scrap lumber as follows so that you have the following pieces:
- · Two pieces each 12″ long
- · Two pieces each 20″ long
Mark the centers on all four pieces. You will use these marks to line them up with the marks on the table. On the 12″ pieces, make marks at 4″ and 8″ on three sides of the pieces.
Line the center marks with those on the table. The 12″ pieces are at the front and back, while the 20″ pieces are on the sides. Affix the long pieces to the table, inside the 2″ marks made in the beginning, using the construction adhesive.
Drill holes through the sides of the 12″ pieces at the 4″ and 8″ marks. The coat hanger wire will fit over the pieces and through the outsides of the holes. This allows the front legs to move and holds the table together.
Line the center marks with the front and back of the table along the insides of the 2″ marks, and attach to the table using the construction adhesive.
Cut two additional pieces of block wood, 1-by-1-by-2. Attach to the top side of the long pieces at the back of the table.
With the tabletop upside down, lay two PVC end caps against the sides, 1″ from the ends. Tape a washer to the inside of the rails; these will protect the legs from friction against the side piece.
Cut four pieces of pipe, each 15.5″ long and insert two of them into the connectors; cement in place. Dry fit slip connectors onto the end and insert a pipe into each.
Place a shim, approximately 1/8″ thick or more on the table and set the PVC caps on it. The legs must move freely without catching on the table top. Remove the washers and secure the pieces in place temporarily.
Mark 7″ from the ends of the other two 15.5″ pieces and cut. Place a T-connector in the center of each with the third insertion pointing to the center. Measure the distance between the connectors and cut a length of pipe to form a crossbar. Before cementing in place, ensure both legs are exactly the same length. Insert into the slip connector and measure the legs again. If they are the same, cement in place.
Mark the ends of the wood side pieces, 1″ from the end and drill a 3/8″ hole from the outside of the end pieces into the connectors. Thread a washer onto a carriage bolt and insert it into the wood from the outside. Thread a second washer onto the bolt and then insert the bolt into the PVC connector. Do the same from the other side and remove the shim. Move the legs to ensure they work properly.
With the table top still upside down and the legs laid flat against the table, place the two 90-degree connectors on the table in between the two legs in the corners. Measure between the pieces and allowing for insertion into the connectors; cut a piece of pipe and dry fit in place. This must fit between the first legs.
Fit two additional 15.5″ pipes into the 90-degree connectors; fit slip connectors onto the ends and the other two pipes into the slip connectors. Move the front legs, the ones inside, to the front and tie a string loosely around the center slip connectors so that they form an “X.” Measure from the top of the back legs to the bottom. Measure from the top of the front legs to the bottom of the slip connector and cut a pipe to fit, allowing for insertion into the connector. There is no T-connector on the front legs.
Ensure the table is level and the legs are even. Cement everything in place.
The table legs are taking shape. The center connectors are the pivot point for the legs. Turn the table upside down and ensure the front legs are all the way to the front. They will not be attached to the sides or front piece. When the table is closed, the front legs fit inside the back, allowing for the table to be flat.
Lay the table flat again and secure the legs so they do not move while being drilled. Drill a 3/8″ hole through the center both connectors from the outside to the inside.
Thread a washer onto a carriage bolt and insert it into a slip connector. Thread a second washer between the slip connectors and push the bolt through the inside slip connector. Place another washer on the bolt and secure a cap nut to the inside. Do the same on the other side.
Turn the table upside down with the legs at the front and the back. You’re almost done. Measure the distance between the 4″ and 8″ holes across the table. Cut the clothes hanger to length, and bend to shape with a pair of pliers. You can use the metal file to smooth the ends. Insert into the holes in the sides. This will keep the front legs from falling off the table. You can also use pipe strapping or other flat metal instead. See the notes section for more ideas.
Place end caps on the legs and insert in place. You can also trim the legs to lay flat and use rubber pipe caps.
Stain and seal or paint the table and legs to match your décor. Use your table for any use you choose.
- · Make interesting tables by using acrylic sheets for the tops and clear PVC for the legs and connectors. Colored PVC also gives visual interest and makes wonderful children’s tables. Use acrylic to build up the side mounts and attach to the table with acrylic cement.
- · Paint or stain your PVC table and legs for a custom look that suits your style and décor.
- · Make your tables in different sizes and heights to accommodate your lifestyle. You can have tables for children, adults, crafting, picnics, camping and for every occasion.
- · Make the table detachable by using “S” hooks connected to springs and chains/cords, utilize bungee cords or other removable holder method.
- · To cut MDF or plywood with minimal tear out, study online tips for table saws and circular saws. Experiment with hand saws to find the best method for your table.
- · You can purchase a 4-by-8 foot sheet of plywood to create a set of four tables. Make the legs and attachments out of scrap wood. This saves money and time.
- · To make the table sturdy in outdoor winds, drill holes in the four corners 1″ from the ends. Thread an eyebolt through each hole, using washers against the table on the top and underside as well as a cap bolt. Thread paracord through the eyebolts and use tent stakes to secure the table to the ground.
- · To attach tables and create larger surfaces, cut blocks of MDF 8″ wide and 8″ long. Clamp them onto the tables and drill through. This will allow you to attach four tables at the inside corners. For the sides, use a block 4″ wide and 8″ long. You can stabilize the table at the ends with the eyebolts, paracord and tent stakes.
- · When attaching tables, make sure the center bars are touching each other. This prevents them from interfering with people’s legs.
Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse subjects and skills such as DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and a consummate movie fan.