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Hi everyone - this is my first post here. Hoping maybe I could get some tips. I'm a beginner at this. I decided to try to make an outdoor table that I will use for food prep. I'm basically copying a design someone else did that I saw online, which is using all construction grade 2x4s. This is not fine furniture by any means, so doesn't need to look perfect, but hoping I can get it to be relatively level and stay standing!

I started building this two days ago, and thought things were going well, but as I started assembling more of the pieces together, I realized despite my best efforts, things are not perfectly square, or level.

I'm pretty sure I understand the possible reasons why, but I'm interested in opinions of a) how can I correct at this point, or b) does it really matter for my use?

I think the first issue is that the lumber itself was not perfect - there are small bends and twists that start to reveal themselves once you start assembling. Second issue - I'm doing this on my basement floor, and I don't think that surface is really level. And thirdly, I may not have done things totally correctly.

I started out by building the frame of the top. I used right angle clamps, glue and screws for the joints. It was looking good, but by the time I got to the last corner, it wasn't very even - I think because of the lumber itself. I went ahead and attached it anyways.

Last night I started working on the legs. It was tricky because I wanted to leave a little lip at the top to lay down a plywood sheet, which I will later put some tiles on. The legs may not have been 100% square, but it is standing!

I attached photos of where I am now. I'm thinking once I put the cross braces in for the bottom shelf, it may bend the legs out a bit and correct some the issues.

I know what I have isn't perfect, but should I just keep proceeding? Or stop and correct things now? If I just keep going, what is the worst case in the end? I don't think the table will collapse, but I guess it may just not be totally level? Can't I just correct that later on with shims, or small legs that I can adjust? I'm thinking of putting wheels on one side, like a cart, so that would be an opportunity for me to level it later.

My other concern is that once I lay in the plywood top, if that lip wasn't 100% perfect all around, the plywood may have small curvature to it, and I'm not sure if the tiles will lie flat.

Anyway, I'm curious if anyone has some tips of where I should go from here. Abort mission, or continue on with corrections? Thanks in advance!

426101


426102


This is my goal, but I'm planning on putting a tile top rather than wood:
426103
 

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I wouldn't worry about it for outdoor furniture. If you dedicate a location you can trim the leg length so that it doesn't rock when you're using it. Another option for the legs is to put some sort of nylon "glide" on it like you see for furniture. You could counterbore a hole or two to inset the glides slightly and get it so that it doesn't rock, and it'll keep the wood out of direct contact with water.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I wouldn't worry about it for outdoor furniture. If you dedicate a location you can trim the leg length so that it doesn't rock when you're using it. Another option for the legs is to put some sort of nylon "glide" on it like you see for furniture. You could counterbore a hole or two to inset the glides slightly and get it so that it doesn't rock, and it'll keep the wood out of direct contact with water.
Thanks - that's a good idea. I figured that the worst that could happen is the piece is a bit twisted or unlevel - but that should be solvable.

I may post some more questions here as I go. I can foresee some potential issues down the road.

Here's one more - what do you recommend I use to treat the wood with to make it water resistant? Are there stains that also have some sort of sealant in them? Or should I first seal it and then stain?

Thanks again!

H
 

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Well, you are asking us what our tolerance is on yard furniture. Well, it depends. Something meant to be rough it is a little looser than something meant to be a little better than that.

How thick is this plywood sheet you are going to tile?
 

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Anything man made with four legs, unlike dogs, and cats and cows, your table is going wobble on even the most level surface. How many restaurant chairs have you sat in that rocked or wobbled? ..... probably all of them. So, don't feel bad, its actually an a example of plane geometry where 3 points determine a plane, but 4 points must be perfectly even to determine a flat plane. Same with 4 table legs. Concrete floor are almost never flat/level either, so your building site was less than ideal. Table legs are often shimmed to make them level. How many restaurant legs have you seen with match books, folded napkins and table knives stuck under the short leg?
Just keep going and you can level it out later based on where it will be located. We can advise you how to do that.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Got it. I will proceed and correct later as needed. As I said, I'm hoping that when I add the bottom shelf it will also help stabilize it and straighten things out a bit more.

The plywood I'm using is 1/2". I added two center supports as well. I hope this should be able to hold the tile? I'm using some extra ceramic 1x2 tiles I had already - so, 4 of them. They are not terribly thick. Do you think the center supports, along with the 1/2" ply should support this?

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Personally I'd avoid plywood for the top unless you're absolutely sure it's going to stand up to wet conditions. I hear tell that it sometimes rains outdoors, but that might just be someone that's all wet.. Now, if you are privy to some nice bar clamps you could laminate some of those nice 2x4s together after either trimming them on a table saw or planing the sides smooth which will make the top strong enough to park your car on top if you do it right..
 
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Personally I'd avoid plywood for the top unless you're absolutely sure it's going to stand up to wet conditions. I hear tell that it sometimes rains outdoors, but that might just be someone that's all wet.. Now, if you are privy to some nice bar clamps you could laminate some of those nice 2x4s together after either trimming them on a table saw or planing the sides smooth which will make the top strong enough to park your car on top if you do it right..
I thought the tile top would be nicer as a food prep surface, vs wood. My plan was to lay the plywood, treat it with some sort of moisture resistant sealant, and then put the tile over that, along with grout, etc. I thought that would be good enough to keep out the majority of the moisture. Also, when not using, I was going to cover the whole thing with a grill cover for some added protection.

I would really love to get into wood working as a more serious hobby. I get a lot of pleasure from doing projects like this - and I appreciate the complexity that can go into something even as simple as this. Just getting right angles correct can be a challange. One thing I'm lacking is good tools - I'm basically working with a circular saw and a drill.
 

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This'll at least get your toes wet with the hobby and/or trade.. Most everyone begins somewhere. If you really enjoy it start looking for the best table saw you can lay your hands on or perhaps best hand saws and planes if you want to go that route.. I started off with a really cheap ryobi table saw then up to a cheap craftsman 30 year old saw and just got a sawstop cabinet saw. About 6 years ago my sole belongings were the clothes on my back and a guitar. Now i have a full shop of all kinds of tools and earn a living with it.. What may seem impossible right now isn't..
 

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Hi everyone - this is my first post here. Hoping maybe I could get some tips. I'm a beginner at this. I decided to try to make an outdoor table that I will use for food prep. I'm basically copying a design someone else did that I saw online, which is using all construction grade 2x4s. This is not fine furniture by any means, so doesn't need to look perfect, but hoping I can get it to be relatively level and stay standing!

I started building this two days ago, and thought things were going well, but as I started assembling more of the pieces together, I realized despite my best efforts, things are not perfectly square, or level.

I'm pretty sure I understand the possible reasons why, but I'm interested in opinions of a) how can I correct at this point, or b) does it really matter for my use?

I think the first issue is that the lumber itself was not perfect - there are small bends and twists that start to reveal themselves once you start assembling. Second issue - I'm doing this on my basement floor, and I don't think that surface is really level. And thirdly, I may not have done things totally correctly.

I started out by building the frame of the top. I used right angle clamps, glue and screws for the joints. It was looking good, but by the time I got to the last corner, it wasn't very even - I think because of the lumber itself. I went ahead and attached it anyways.

Last night I started working on the legs. It was tricky because I wanted to leave a little lip at the top to lay down a plywood sheet, which I will later put some tiles on. The legs may not have been 100% square, but it is standing!

I attached photos of where I am now. I'm thinking once I put the cross braces in for the bottom shelf, it may bend the legs out a bit and correct some the issues.

I know what I have isn't perfect, but should I just keep proceeding? Or stop and correct things now? If I just keep going, what is the worst case in the end? I don't think the table will collapse, but I guess it may just not be totally level? Can't I just correct that later on with shims, or small legs that I can adjust? I'm thinking of putting wheels on one side, like a cart, so that would be an opportunity for me to level it later.

My other concern is that once I lay in the plywood top, if that lip wasn't 100% perfect all around, the plywood may have small curvature to it, and I'm not sure if the tiles will lie flat.

Anyway, I'm curious if anyone has some tips of where I should go from here. Abort mission, or continue on with corrections? Thanks in advance!

View attachment 426101

View attachment 426102

This is my goal, but I'm planning on putting a tile top rather than wood:
View attachment 426103
If you plan on continuing with woodworking, I would suggest going into every project striving for perfection. Likely, you will never achieve it. Wood is not perfect, machines are not perfect, and we certainly are not perfect. By striving for perfection you will be more likely to learn from your mistakes. As far as tolerance, the question would be is it something you will be proud of when complete, or when you look at it every day will it be a bad reminder. If I am not finished with a project, and there is a way a can go backwards in order to go forward with a better result, I will. So ask yourself, am I happy with it?
 

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Plywood isn't a good substrate for tile, as it isn't waterproof. I personally would use some sort of tile backer board under the tile, and to keep it "dry", using a tile that wraps around the edge. 1/2" plywood with the tile backer board should be plenty sturdy, unless you have friends who like to dance on the tables...
 

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its your first attempt, its an outside table that will be pulled about. Dont get too wound up in beauty. But it has to be strong and your table does not have any diagonal bracing.
Consider someone leaning against one side. The table will collapse sideways because you dont have any joints, just screws.
This is called "racking" and must be allowed for in all tables and benches.
Put small diagonals between the legs and the flat surfaces in all directions.

As far as ply is concerned, it is fine for the use you want to put it to. But varnish / paint / stain it BEFORE gluing the tiles down. Cover all of the undersides with the same. It will last a couple of years at least while you learn to make better looking and sturdier pieces.
 

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I don't see how the ply will get wet, so I think you're ok on that. But I don't know about putting mastik directly on plywood. I would use a 1/4" tile underlayment and put one cross brace underneath.

I learned from a tile man minor discrepancies out of square will show less if you orient the tile at 45. Any minor twist or out of plane can be made up with the mastik.

We recently had some tile work done & he used little plastic tabs with wedges that hold the tiles perfectly even, break them off before grouting - pretty nifty.

Future reference, one of the first lessons to learn in ww'ing is lumber selection. Long term, a rot proof wood like Cedar would be a good choice, but any lumber can be painted or sealed.
 

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I made a couple of outdoor side tables with ply under tile. they have been outside in everything from 120 heat to torrential rain. 3 years on and they show no sign of breaking up.
Just coat everything well with polyeurethane varnish.
Lets face it, youre not building a family heirloom here. Build it, learn from it, improve on it.
 

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Or should I first seal it and then stain?
You would do it the other way around--stain and then seal. The stain needs to soak in. Unless you use a deck sealant that has stain in it, which nearly all of them do.
It depends on what you want it to look like, really. It'll require maintenance because eventually moisture will seep in no matter what you use.
In my experience, pretty nearly any deck stain/sealant, paint, etc will work or not work. Around my house, I've used highly rated desk sealants that chip and peel after one season, and I've used basic paint that lasted out in the weather for years.
 

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If you want to save a few bucks on staining it you may want to think of using white vinegar and steel wool. Just plop a pad of fine steel wool in a jar of white vinegar and wait a few days. The steel wool will dissolve and the remaining liquid will make a nice, rustic, dark stain. I'm not entirely sure how a sealent may react with vinegar, but it's fine with oil and wax which as food safe..well, most of them are.. Works great on pine.. I've sprayed water based poly on the steel wool/vinegar solution with no problems..
 

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Hi everyone - this is my first post here. Hoping maybe I could get some tips. I'm a beginner at this. I decided to try to make an outdoor table that I will use for food prep. I'm basically copying a design someone else did that I saw online, which is using all construction grade 2x4s. This is not fine furniture by any means, so doesn't need to look perfect, but hoping I can get it to be relatively level and stay standing!

I started building this two days ago, and thought things were going well, but as I started assembling more of the pieces together, I realized despite my best efforts, things are not perfectly square, or level.

I'm pretty sure I understand the possible reasons why, but I'm interested in opinions of a) how can I correct at this point, or b) does it really matter for my use?

I think the first issue is that the lumber itself was not perfect - there are small bends and twists that start to reveal themselves once you start assembling. Second issue - I'm doing this on my basement floor, and I don't think that surface is really level. And thirdly, I may not have done things totally correctly.

I started out by building the frame of the top. I used right angle clamps, glue and screws for the joints. It was looking good, but by the time I got to the last corner, it wasn't very even - I think because of the lumber itself. I went ahead and attached it anyways.

Last night I started working on the legs. It was tricky because I wanted to leave a little lip at the top to lay down a plywood sheet, which I will later put some tiles on. The legs may not have been 100% square, but it is standing!

I attached photos of where I am now. I'm thinking once I put the cross braces in for the bottom shelf, it may bend the legs out a bit and correct some the issues.

I know what I have isn't perfect, but should I just keep proceeding? Or stop and correct things now? If I just keep going, what is the worst case in the end? I don't think the table will collapse, but I guess it may just not be totally level? Can't I just correct that later on with shims, or small legs that I can adjust? I'm thinking of putting wheels on one side, like a cart, so that would be an opportunity for me to level it later.

My other concern is that once I lay in the plywood top, if that lip wasn't 100% perfect all around, the plywood may have small curvature to it, and I'm not sure if the tiles will lie flat.

Anyway, I'm curious if anyone has some tips of where I should go from here. Abort mission, or continue on with corrections? Thanks in advance!

View attachment 426101

View attachment 426102

This is my goal, but I'm planning on putting a tile top rather than wood:
View attachment 426103
I agree cement backer board is the best choice for your top.

SAS
 

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I agree cement backer board is the best choice for your top.

SAS
The new WonderBoard lite is good for a stable tile underlayment.

Grout lines in tile will need to be sealed in order to keep food from getting into the grout and decomposing then making somebody sick next time it’s used.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #19
So here's an update on my little project. I put the frame in place for the lower shelf. That actually helped stabilize the table a bit more, and while I'm still not certain it's 100% level, this was definitely a step in the right direction.

I've run into a new problem, which I sort of saw coming. Maybe you can give me some advice on how to move forward. I had decided to go ahead with the plywood underlayer. The problem is that my measurements weren't exactly perfect, and once the tile is laid on top, it is not flush with the edges of the table. I had a hard time figuring out how to measure the little lip the plywood would sit on, and It's just not there. I probably should have erred on the side of caution and had it be slightly lower than too high.

How would the "pros" do something like this? I guess if I had the right tools, a router would let me make the perfect depth shelf for the wood to sit on? Small details like this are hard to get right!

Anyway, this is what I have now. So my question is, what is the best way forward? Should I try to unscrew the sides a bit and raise up the frame? Or is it better to put a border layer of ply or something else on top of the outer edges to bring them level with the tile?

One other question, do you think I still need diagonal bracing, give the bottom shelf, etc that is helping to stabilize it?

Finally, just a note - I'm not really looking to build an heirloom furniture here or anything. I would be pretty happy if I could get 5 years out of this thing. So just something I want to keep in mind when deciding on materials, etc.

Thanks!

426352


426353
 

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For the purpose this table is being put to,it ought to work well enough.Not having perfectly level feet would matter on a perfect floor.Outside furniture has to meet different criteria and if it keeps the food off the ground and at a convenient height we can call it a success.The next project will be a bit better because the lessons from this one can be applied.So it continues with every project we tackle.Aiming for perfection is enormously frustrating because there is always some aspect that isn't quite there,even though nobody but the maker knows about the microscopic blemishes.It also takes a huge amount of time.I always encourage people to satisfy themselves with excellence.Its a tiny bit more attainable and almost nobody will ever spot the difference.
 
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