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Helpful Tips

To help you decide whether you want to do this project yourself or ask someone else to do it for you, provided is a list of helpful references for you to review. If your skill set covers most of these, you are good to go. If you wish to learn any of the activities listed, this project will provide you with an opportunity to do so. You will see that all of the skills are normal woodworking skills employed on any number of projects that you may wish to do. Enjoy yourself and benefit for a lifetime with this project. *We do not recommend building this yourself if you are a complete novice in woodworking. 


  • The following tips will be of assistance when planning and working on your project. Sources have been sighted for help for each of these topics from woodworking magazines that many of you will probably have. There is more help available on the internet if you wish to do additional research. Most large public libraries have these magazines in their archives and of course you can normally order from the publishers. 


  • Be sure to read, understand and follow all the safety instructions with your tools.


  • Building from plans presents its own challenges. WOODSMITH, Vol. 33/ No.198, page 42, has an excellent article on getting the best results from a woodworking plan like you have with this project.
  • Read the instructions first, check to insure you have the tool inventory needed and are familiar with their setup. Stock selection and preparation is important along with having extra setup pieces available. Know your jigs, if any are used, and familiarize yourself with them and proceed safely.


  • You will have complete control of the appearance of your project. The base unit is a simple design ready for enhancements if you so desire. Some pleasing proportions should always be followed. The GOLDEN RATIO is a very helpful concept to be aware of when considering design enhancements.
  • WOODSMITH, Vol. 34/No.201 has an article on page 48 about the importance of the golden ratio concept when planning the finished look of your project.


  • Set up an assembly fixture for the table tops. It is important to have the support structure for the table top fabrication both flat and square. If the tops are winded or out of square, it will cause you trouble later. Besides, the fixture can be disassembled and the materials reused for other projects after you finish with it here.
  • The WOODWORKERS JOURNAL, OCT. 2012, Vol. 36, No. 5 has an article on page 13 about setting up a temporary work surface, it is simple and straightforward. Put 1x4s on adjoining sides of one corner of the top and you are ready to make sure the setup is flat.
  • SHOPNOTES, Vol. 20 Issue 117 has an explanation for wind stick usage on page 50. It is important to do this now before you start assembly.
  • FINE WOODWORKING, June 2012, No. 226, pages 22 and 26 show the importance for table setup and checking for square.


  • FINE WOODWORKING, Oct 2011, No. 221 has an article on page 22 about lumber selection and defects. If you are unfamiliar with wood selection and terminology, it would be helpful to read this short primer before you purchase the material for your project.


  • If you don't already have a box joint jig, I have two alternatives to select from if you choose to make your own instead of buying one.
  • WOODSMITH, Vol. 33/ No.195, page 14 explains the fabrication and use of a box joint jig.
  • WOODCRAFT, Vol. 7/ No.  41, June/ July 2011 has an article on page 58 about construction and use of their box-joint jig.
  • WOODSMITH, Vol. 215, page 14 has another article on box joints

Cutting Plywood

  • If you use a table saw, use a zero clearance insert in the throat plate. I like to tape the cutline also. Cut the plywood with the face up.
  • If you cut with a power handsaw, use a guide. Use the proper saw blade, cut with the face down and tape the cut lines. FAMILY HANDYMAN, Sept. 2012 page 30 shows how to make a very good saw guide.
  • SHOPNOTES, Vol. 19, Issue 114 has some advice about the correct way to do it yourself on a zero clearance insert on page 23.
  • FINEWOODWORKING, Aug. 2011, No. 220 also shows a table extension that makes plywood cutting easier.
  • AMERICAN WOODWORKER, Feb/Mar 2013 page 8 Shows a fixture that will assist you when cutting plywood.
  • WOOD MAGAZINE, Nov. 2003, issue 152, page 70 shows several ways to get high-quality plywood cuts. It is worth a read.
  • FINE HOMEBUILDING, Jan. 2011, No. 216 has an article on making a power hand saw guide on page 88.

Counter Bore holes for machine screws

  • WOOD MAGAZINE, July 2014, page 65 shows an example of this in picture D.


  • If you choose to glue the tops on your tables (no staples) so you can stain instead of paint, you will need clamping cauls. I prefer to use bowed cauls so you can apply pressure all the way across the table top. Following are several articles on making cauls.
  • THE FAMILY HANDYMAN, June 2012, page 33 has a small article on this. 
  • FINE WOODWORKING, JUNE 2012, No. 226, page 25 shows how to spread the pressure where clamps can't reach.
  • FINE WOODWORKING, April 2011, No. 218, page 22 also has an article on using cauls.
  • AMERICAN WOODWORKER, No.162, OCT/NOV 2012, page 8, has an offbeat caul demonstrated, using Unistrut. If you have access to this material, it works well if you create a bow on the bottom with duct tape or similar so you get equal pressure across the glue up.


  • A simple cutting stop is very helpful when making repeat cuts on a miter saw. This project has a lot of repeat cuts. Your ability to square up the project depends on cutting the pairs of boards to the same length. 
  • SHOPNOTES, Vol.19 Issue 114, page 47 shows a simple wood block stop with a woodscrew for adjustment that will work easily on this project. 


  • WOOD MAGAZINE, Nov 2003, Issue 152, pages 26 and 62 have two good articles on the use of a pocket hole jig as used in this project.

SOSS Hinge Installation

  • SOSS has instructions and video online to demonstrate proper hinge installation at

Good glue joints

  • Glue joints are used throughout this project, WOODSMITH MAGAZINE has an article on gluing in issue No. 216 page 48 that will refresh your skills in dealing with wood and glue.