Fig. J: The base and underside of the top are attached
together with the dowel screw. Make sure to tighten
Fig. K: Use a level to make sure your creation doesn’t tilt
to one side. Don’t assume that your floor is true.
4. Join the top to the bottom. 5. Level.
Connecting the tabletop to the base is easy. In most Set the table on its legs. Check the level with, well,
hardware stores you’ll find something called a dowel a level (Figure K). It helps to check the level of the
screw: basically, 2 screws connected head to head surface your project is sitting on as well. Don’t
(Figure E). Select the largest dowel screw that fits; assume that your floor is true.
it shouldn’t be longer than the top is thick. Trim the legs down to about the height you desire,
Select a drill bit that’s almost as wide in diameter but a little longer. Using the level and a saw, trim
as the dowel screw. Just line them up and eyeball it. the bottoms of the legs until you get the tabletop
You want the screw threads about
1" to ¼" wider perfectly level. This sounds simpler than it may
than the bit. Make a mark in the center of the bottom actually be to accomplish.
(underside) of the top. Drill a hole as deep as ½ the
length of the dowel screw. Be very careful not to drill
through the top (Figure F).
TIP: Wrap a small piece of tape around the
drill bit at the desired depth before you drill.
Trim the stem of the base to a length that suits
you. Cut parallel to the limb joint (Figures G and H).
Drill a hole directly in the middle of the base stem
(Figure I). If you taped your bit, drill to that depth.
Using Vise-Grips or other pliers, screw the dowel
screw into the top. It should penetrate to the middle
of the screw. Now, using the top for torque, screw
the stem to the base (Figure J). Tighten it well.
If your top was pretty green, you should wait to
apply a finish. How long? Weeks. Months. You can
use mineral oil or walnut oil to provide some
protection while it’s drying.
Once it’s dry, sand the top with 220- or 240-grit
sandpaper. If you don’t like the cracks in the top,
fill them with an appropriately hued wood filler and
re-sand. Apply any wood finish you like. If you oiled
it, you want to avoid water-based finishes.
Joe Szuecs, pronounced sooch, lives in western Sonoma County,
Calif., and owns Renga Arts (
renga-arts.com), a store that sells
products made from recycled and reclaimed materials.