Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Mosaic Top End Table (and ukulele storage!)

I'm finally writing about this project I build last spring!

I posted it on instagram way back when I finished it and said "someday" I'd get back to blogging... 29 weeks later, here we are!

So, as you may know, my husband has a touch of Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome. Do you know anyone afflicted with this? (Symptoms include responding to the question, "How many ukuleles do you need?" with "One more.")  His condition led to the clutter problem we started having last year which led to the creation of the ukulele hanger that has become so popular on my Etsy shop

Well, the uke hangers (yes, we have multiple now...) are great when he actually hangs the ukes, but in the dry winter, he keeps them in cases with humidifiers over night. So the clutter problem reappeared, this time with cases on the floor.

And we wanted an end table. ;)

Enter this modification of a shoe shelf posted on  I altered the plans slightly for size and skipped the step of making the shelf adjustable. Construction was pretty straight forward and using my Kreg jig for pocket holes made it easy (and strong!). You can see the pocket holes on the top waiting for the table top! 

If I had been smart, I would have waited to put that shelf in until after I had attached the top - it was a little challenging getting my drill in there at the end! I did think ahead enough, though, to stain the inside at this point. I used Weathered Gray stain by Varathane. I love this stain - wipe on, wipe off the excess, done! I also applied a coat of Varathane's Triple Thick poly since the cases would be sliding in and out a lot. I love this stuff too! It goes on thick and is very forgiving (not as many worries about bubbles, etc, like regular poly.) One coat of that and I was back to work!

Next, I attached the legs and framing pieces. I made the these sit up slightly higher than the top of the plywood sides to be able to conceal the edges of the table top later.

For the outside of the table, I used a layered stain technique. Sadly I don't have a picture of this part, but I'll do my best to explain the process. First, I stained the whole thing with Dark Walnut. Then, working quickly, I used a paper towel to wipe on a small amount of Weathered Gray and immediately wipe it back off. I worked in small sections so that the gray stain didn't have much time to penetrate the wood. I've used this technique on other pieces and just love the dimensional color it can give. 

Now it was on to the fun part! I had been eyeing different kinds of planked table tops and decided to give it a try, but with a mosaic-like design. To start, I measured and cut the first 3 pieces of my 1x4 board. I laid them out on the plywood base I had cut to fit the table. It was fun playing with my Ryobi miter saw to get the angles I needed! I love this saw!

I didn't have too much of a plan for this part, so I just cut pieces to fit as I went along.

Already in love!

And then onto staining! I used all Varathane stains - Dark Walnut, Weathered Gray, Vintage Blue, and Sunbleached. On most of the planks, I washed over them with a layer of the gray to get the tone I was going for. (The blue especially - you can see how bright it is in the can, but how muted it looks on the table.)

I laid them all out and then went through with wood glue and a couple of strikes on each plank from my Ryobi Airstrike Nail Gun. (swoooon....)

I was so happy with it at this stage that I just kept taking pictures. :)

Once it was all together, I realized that the edges of the boards on the table top did not all line up perfectly with the side framing pieces. A couple of them were just a little short. Now, I know this will surprise everyone (ahem), but this drove me crazy. And made me angry. Like a lot.

Eventually I came up with a solution. I decided to line the outside of the top with pieces of 1/2"x2"... BUT I didn't have any in at the moment... BUT I did have the large paint stir sticks from Home Depot... and they're basically the same size... so yeah. The (no longer a) secret is that the top of my end table is lined with sanded paint stir sticks. ;) We'll call it being resourceful. I stained them to match, glued and nailed them on, and brought the whole thing in!

(from this angle you can see the bottom skirt piece that I forgot to attach..oops!)

Once it was inside, I protected the top with multiple layers of triple thick poly - I especially wanted to be sure that the cracks between the planks were full. If (when) a drink gets spilled on this at some point, I would hate to have the liquid seep between them and ruin the table!

Here it is loaded up! We finally have an end table! And the cases are off the floor! Hooray!

Thanks for reading! 

Check out my Instagram and let me know if there's a project you'd like me to write up next! I have a lot of catching up to do! :) 


  1. This is gorgeous. I have to ask, how long did it take you?

    1. Thanks! I'm really not sure - especially with the mess-ups and re-dos along the way. :) I'll have to keep better track if I do something like this again! :)

  2. Beautiful! I love everything you do!