Build a deck table with Ikea legs

I love reusing and transforming old stuff. No. 1, I’m cheap, and No. 2 (or 1a) I hate the idea of throwing away good things.

I had an old Ikea desk I bought for my daughter, dirt-cheap but semi-stylish, like most Ikea designs. By the way, why did it take the Swedes to show us that cheap furniture can still be designed well? It’s the same with kitchen cabinets–we just keep on cranking out the same tired looks and styles. I’ll leave that rant for another day.

Anyhoo, I dragged that beat-up desk across the country with us to Portland, mostly because the legs were so simple to take off. But when we needed a small deck table, I got to thinking. I could layer two pieces of plywood to make a thick top, brush a polyurethane finish on them to resist the drizzle, and screw on those Ikea legs. The plywood cost under $40, bringing my total to just over $50, for a table that fits my space just right.

I’m guessing you don’t have an old set of Ikea table legs, but here’s the cool thing: they sell tons of screw-on legs separately! The ones I used here cost just $4 each! That’s nuts! So you can screw them onto any old slab or tabletop you have and make something cool!

I was lucky enough to find a patio umbrella with a white pole, which looks good with the legs. By the way, if you live somewhere that freezes in the winter, I’d take the table in for the snow season. You might also use spar varnish on the tabletop, not polyurethane as I did. I may come to rue that decision, but some sanding and refinishing will set it right.

One more tip: Take your time choosing the plywood, to find at least one piece with a nice look to it.

I bought two 4×4 pieces of plywood, which is easy to transport home. I played one layer on some foam insulation so I could drill through it safely. I drilled in a grid pattern, with a drill bit that also has a countersink on it.
Then I used a paint roller to spread some yellow glue all over the other layer. That pencil line is where I am going to trim the table, so no glue or screws are needed there.
Then I put the other layer back on and screwed through it with 1-1/4-in. drywall screws. This is actually the bottom layer of the table. The screws act as clamps while the glue dries.
Last I used my saw guide to trim all the edges even, and trim off that big section. Check out my blog on that saw guide. It’s an awesome gizmo!
I used a small roundover bit to round the upper and lower edges, then hit everything with sandpaper. See how the edges are all flush now from the trimming step? I like the thick look of the doubled-up plywood.
I put on four coats of satin, oil-based polyurethane….
…sanding with fine paper between each coat, which is an inconvenient truth about finishing.
I wanted to put an umbrella through this table, so I used my tape measure to connect diagonal lines and find the center.
I measured the umbrella post and bought a hole saw just bigger than that. The hole saw is the perfect tool for big, deep holes in soft woods. Take a look below before drilling, and remove the screw if there is one in the way!
Here is that old Ikea desk that I sacrificed. The legs come off easily.
I spaced the legs evenly in from the edges of my new tabletop, and traced their outline.
I drilled pilot holes, just smaller than the screws, so they would hold firmly.
Zip, zip.
And now the deck transformation…
First a cheap umbrella base, that fills with water….
…then the snazzy new table…
…then the umbrella…
Then some cheap outdoor chairs to match. We hate the brown color of the house, so we are doing whatever we can to funkify it. By the way, this table would also work indoors,  without the umbrella (unless your roof leaks a lot).





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