How to Make a Table: Project Info

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This is the introduction for a free series. Want to watch the whole thing? It is free to do so, you just need to log into the site and you can enjoy this series and many other videos we think you will love.


In this project, Paul goes through the steps it takes to make a table. He starts with the material stock and follows through to the completion of a small table. These techniques and methods can be applied to the construction of any number of styles and sizes of table, from an end table to a dining table.

The tools you will need are:

  • Knife
  • Square
  • Combination gauge (or marking gauge and mortise gauge)
  • Tape/Ruler (or both)
  • *Calipers
  • Chisel hammer
  • Chisels (at least 3/8″ and 1″)
  • *Hand router (see how to make a ‘Poor Man’s Router here)
  • Smoothing plane (No 4)
  • Spokeshave
  • Mortice guide
  • Handsaw
  • Tenon saw
  • Dovetail saw
  • *No 80 Cabinet Scraper
  • *Card scraper
  • Hand drill or drill driver
  • Square Awl

* = optional

Joints List:

  • Mortise & Tenon


  1. johnrf on 9 August 2016 at 3:07 pm

    Why another table? Is there something to be learned by this table that wasn’t already covered by the “Occasional Table” project or the “Sofa Table project”?

    • Michael Barnes on 9 August 2016 at 3:16 pm

      I was thinking that myself…looks an awful lot like the occasional table doesn’t it.

      • grahamb on 9 August 2016 at 3:43 pm

        Yes i have to agree with you guys. do we really need another table project?

        • Joe Kaiser on 9 August 2016 at 5:07 pm

          I was under the impression this video was about the *why* and not the *how* – something I feel has been skipped over in other projects. If I am right, then I don’t mind if it is another table build.

        • ehisey on 10 August 2016 at 5:49 am

          This the first basictable walk through. 2 of the others are pretty elaborate first time pieces, and the occassional table was historical recreation, more about the reproduction of a half breadboard top table, than the basic design of a table.

          This is more a starter table video than others, so a good fit for Paul’s goals.

        • John Jones on 27 March 2018 at 1:32 am

          I need another table project as this is the first one I have seen. I’m pretty sure that Paul does not insist that you watch his videos, so why don’t you just skip this series and go and do something else?

          • Roger on 27 March 2018 at 7:49 am

            Absolutely spot on comment. I love the videos and always learn something, especially when I think I know about it already.

            As you say, if you think you know it all find something else to do, or post a video of your teaching work.

            Thanks Paul, keep up the good work.

          • Sverre on 28 April 2018 at 1:53 pm

            As someone who is just starting out, I can say that I am looking forward to this project. I can see that it will be very useful for learning the basics of table building.

    • mike jones on 3 April 2018 at 6:03 pm

      I watch all his videos even if they seem redundant. There is always something new to pick up.

  2. YrHenSaer on 9 August 2016 at 4:38 pm

    We don’t know the exact details of the construction yet, but I’m inclined to be disappointed with what appears to be another conventional occasional table.
    If we need to pursue making tables, Paul, how about exploring a pedestal type with sliding dovetails? Complicated, I know but a lot of us would welcome the challenge.

    Just a thought.

  3. rayziegler on 9 August 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Paul, I enjoy all your projects. I often view previous episodes and find something I missed the first time. Even though this is another table, I’m confident there will be much to learn. To me it’s about the learning process to develop my skills to do real woodworking.


    Ray Ziegler – Birmingham, USA

    • Frank Higgins on 27 March 2018 at 4:08 am

      Very much agree with Ray!

    • Shuaib Alam on 27 March 2018 at 7:16 pm

      I agree 100%. To me, the end product is irrelevant. I watch Paul’s videos because I’m learning his woodworking techniques. Proper technique is SO important. And the best way to learn is by watching someone who has honed their skills over half of a century. As they say, “it’s good to learn from your own mistakes, but it’s even better to learn from others'”, as you save much time and frustration when you learn from others’ mistakes.


  4. STEVE MASSIE on 9 August 2016 at 5:54 pm

    I am looking forward to this project, I actually have a need for a couple small tables so this could be another fun project.


  5. Farred on 9 August 2016 at 7:13 pm

    Based on the comments, looks like we have a tough crowd. That said, I would like to see the addition of a drawer. I’ve read a lot about the drawer aprons inside tables, so am curious about the best style.

    • o_lucas_o on 10 August 2016 at 1:07 am

      I’d also love to see the making of a drawer for this table.

    • dovetails on 10 August 2016 at 10:23 pm

      Please add a drawer to this table.

      I’ve already made a half dozen of these from your book.

  6. David R. on 9 August 2016 at 7:36 pm

    If I am not mistaken, the project after this will be the rocking chair which ought to be quite a bit more challenging.

    Drawers would be nice, yes.

    This project is one of the projects from the foundational course, so while it may not be completely new in terms of technique, it is a good complement of the projects archive here at woodworkingmasterclasses. And as has been said, there’s always something to learn from watching Paul work and from the countless side notes.

  7. Wayne on 9 August 2016 at 7:51 pm

    I would love to see the addition of a drawer as well.


  8. rustifer on 9 August 2016 at 8:18 pm

    Evening all.

    There’s an old saying that goes;
    From the little acorn the mighty oak tree grows.
    Though some may find this table project repetitious , mastering the basics leads to competence in the more complicated stuff which ,if i’m not mistaken is what masterclasses is all about.
    If anyone feels this project to be a little simple and are at a stage where their skills are above this then surely with a little imagination coupled the goldmine of information and tuition given in all and even the simplest of Paul’s videos it wouldn’t be too big a leap to design and build something a bit more complicated themselves.
    i suppose that’s the difference between imitators and innovators.
    I’m sure there’s plenty to be gleaned from this one as there is with all the others.
    Notwithstanding its a pleasure to watch a master craftsman at work whatever he’s at.

    • Joel Finkel on 10 August 2016 at 3:59 am

      Well said. I would only add that skill comes with actual practice. Watching these tutorials is tremendously useful to learning the techniques of the craft and seeing them performed skillfully. The more the better. But my skill, though never so masterful, will be developed at the bench.

    • truckingturner on 10 August 2016 at 11:07 am

      Well said.

    • antomo on 10 August 2016 at 8:39 pm

      I am a teacher my self, not of woodworking, and with time and experience I learned that in order to teach my students further advance tecniques it is necessary to go back to the basics. I do practice myself the basics and I always discover something new that can be added and so the basics will be always better to make the advanced easier, safer and deeper. I do actually like this video very much and watching it I learned something new that could have saved me on previous projects. The teaching is clear, as usual of course, but being a bit dum I like the clear step by step explanation. The other day I started a new wall clock and my skills and control have improved so much.
      Thank you Paul and team.

    • Dan Roper on 10 August 2016 at 9:07 pm

      Daragh Holmes

      Thank you! Your are spot on with your comment. I could not agree more.


  9. SharpPencil on 9 August 2016 at 8:51 pm

    After all Paul has taught us I don’t know how those that crump, can make thoughtless comments as above……….nowhere but nowhere on the internet is there such a feast of knowledge given for such a modest monthly outlay plus more for free.

    I’ll stop at that…….John 2V

    • johnrf on 7 September 2016 at 5:46 pm

      I don’t see how my comments were thoughtless. Mr. Sellers has been an inspiration to me or I wouldn’t be here. The fact is that this is a rehash of what has already been shown. I can watch his videos over and over and learn something each time, but everybody has access to the previous videos (even new members) and can watch those over and over. It was a simple question of what is new in this project, not an insult!

  10. norm lafond on 9 August 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Well, I don’t comment very often but I feel I must throw in an observation. I have felt that some of the past projects looked repetitive up front. But I have always found that there was some additional content that was not presented before or presented in quite the same fashion. So I would kindly suggest that we wait and see what the class is all about before passing judgement.

  11. bobnt on 10 August 2016 at 12:51 am

    I have yet the doubt Paul or the woodworking master classes team, there will no doubt be huge value to this project as with all the others. I very much look forward to it.

  12. Philip Adams on 10 August 2016 at 10:34 am

    Hello All,

    Thank you for all your interactive comments and recommendations. All very helpful. We always consider different points of view and differing circumstances when planning and filming new projects.

    When we took the decision to put this out as a project, it was due to Paul wanting to present a scalable, versatile table using his recommended techniques and without any excess details or complications. It is particularly suited for new woodworkers as well as adaption, and we felt it important to have a project like this in the Woodworking Masterclasses archive. A similar table has long been part of Paul’s training program.

    It may well repeat some of the methods and techniques from other projects, as well as including project specific details, but it is important for the project to contain all the steps required to make this project. The repetition of methods is key for the development, reinforcement and establishment of skill. In this case it give Paul the opportunity to talk about the broader applications of those particular skills.

    I hope that helps answer some questions. If you have further comments or questions, please feel free to discuss them in the forums or email us through the contact tab.

    Phil and the Woodworking Masterclasses Team

    • canito79 on 11 August 2016 at 2:44 pm

      Thank you, Phillip. Well stated.

    • David Gill on 16 August 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Hi Philip
      I was going to add a post to this table but I wanted to add some photos which I am unable to do as there is no add file ability so I thought I would go to the Master classes project list but this table does not appear to be on the list

      Best Regards

    • Sandy on 19 August 2016 at 10:01 pm

      I personally am looking forward to the videos and making a couple of these simple tables. Teach on!

  13. beach512 on 10 August 2016 at 4:53 pm

    I really welcome the new table project. I plan to follow along as I would like a nice side table and continue building my skills. Looks great!

  14. howard1 on 10 August 2016 at 8:07 pm

    On an even more basic level I would really like to see a tutorial video on dimensioning stock for a project and getting all the pieces to be of equal size using hand tools prior to joinery. This procedure is certainly a task that continuous to be the most challenging for me personally. Boring perhaps, but I feel it would prove to be an enormous benefit to me and possibly to others.

  15. Joshua P on 10 August 2016 at 8:33 pm


    I agree with the other people commenting on the table forum. However, while these techniques are covered in previous videos, it is very helpful to watch another series on them. I appreciate how you show each step of the process (and sometimes even with each of the four parts – for example scribing each of the four legs with the gauge), because it offers a longer window into your thoughts as you work.

    What would make this project worth the paid subscription (even with the occasional table series) is either/both:

    1) incorporation of a drawer (if even talking through it and providing a PDF adaptation)
    2) talking through (and providing a PDF adaptation of) the sizing and dimensioning for the various sized tables you referenced in your intro video (0:35-0:45).

    Please Consider,

  16. willfeyn on 12 August 2016 at 8:05 am

    I have respect to everyone and what they say but what does it mean “What would make this project worth the paid subscription ” When you go to a classical music concert to listen a master are you shouting from your seat when you didn’t like what he or she is playing? I think no. You are just enjoying. Everybody is free to share what they are thinking about topics and it creates productive interaction but who is talking about money can you please stop because it is hurtful.
    Would you sell your 1 minute after 50 years experience on something for 15 USD? He is sharing the biggest online literature with us and he is giving a chance people to improve some skill and even to create their own business. Everything just for 15 USD? People working to prepare all this videos so on. We are not in the market to complain about tomatoes what we are buying. We are in his land and to understand his wisdom and creativity.
    He is 66 years old and still he is working every day min 8 hours to share all these wonderful knowledge with us. I invite you to be more respectful and not to compare his wisdom with money.

  17. billlatt on 12 August 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Another table project is hardly the end of the world. There is always useful information in all of the projects here whether you build them or not. The only thing I would really like to see added in this respect is making a table with a circular or oval top, which I don’t recall seeing in any of the Masterclasses before. Otherwise, I look forward to giving it a try.

  18. garyprott on 12 August 2016 at 6:30 pm

    I don’t get the negative comments on here. I came on this site to learn hand tools. The best way I have found to do that is by doing something more then once. Watch these upcoming videos and I bet you come away with more knowledge on how to do something. It’s the journey folks. Enjoy.

  19. rustifer on 12 August 2016 at 11:25 pm

    i think what people should remember here is we’re paying a meagre amount for watching and learning from a master craftsman who is devoted to preserving and passing on skills that are, sadly for the most part practiced by hobbyists. a number of whom it would seem presume to know more than a man with fifty years experience.
    the Making and fitting of a drawer while requiring skill to execute aint rocket science to figgure out.
    have a look at any traditional drawer set up and if you cant join the dots then keep watching.

  20. James Savage on 21 August 2016 at 6:02 pm

    You lot are a tough crowd!!! I’m still cutting dovetails for the tool cabinet! I love to watch all these videos and learn every time I watch Paul in action!

    • Glenn on 21 August 2016 at 6:35 pm

      Your not alone there James , no matter how many times I watch or do it still helps to review , I never Fast Forward in case I miss something I missed before


  21. Rodney Worthington on 20 March 2018 at 3:50 am

    I’m going to build a somewhat large dining table and wanted to know if there is anything different that should be done in terms of joinery, stock thickness, number of turn buttons, etc or should I continue to use the exact same methods as I have from this project. Any help would be appreciated!

    • Philip Adams on 20 March 2018 at 4:49 pm

      Hello Rodney,
      You can certainly use the same techniques. If you go significantly larger, then you may have to increase the size of the legs, apron thickness or width and mortise & tenon dimensions slightly, but only if a lot bigger.
      Best, Phil

  22. Ferd Madara on 27 March 2018 at 2:32 pm

    Any time any man shares his knowledge is a gift. Thank you for this piece; build it or not, I appreciate the time you have taken to bring this to us. I am not highly skilled, nor do I pretend to be. I am also in a place where I share my knowledge all the time and it is not always received as it should be. I know if I build your project 100 times I will still be learning something new. Have a blessed Easter. Mark 9:35 “And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all”.

  23. Kermit Chamberlin on 28 March 2018 at 1:19 am

    My opinion? If this isn’t for you, move on. I can see this project as instructive for the new-ish hand tool woodworker. I’ve made so many tables in my life that this likely won’t teach me much that’s new. Since I’m not Paul’s target audience, I’m sure not going to fault him for doing this one.

  24. Ed Hitt on 24 May 2019 at 12:59 am

    Hi Everyone,

    I have a question of a technical nature.

    I have completed all of the joinery work for the table but, it seems the table rocks slightly as if the legs are different heights; very slight indeed. I’ve tried many things to troubleshoot the problem but, have not found the answer yet. I’ll list as concisely as possible what I’ve looked at. Does anyone have suggestions for what else I can look at as the cause.

    1) Checked my benchtop with a machined straight edge to ensure my benchtop is flat
    2) Remeasured the legs and stacked them side by side to make sure they are indeed the same length
    2) Inserted each tenon into it’s respective mortise and checked that the edges and faces of the apron are square to the faces of the legs. I did have to do some shoulder clean-up to get them true
    3) Made sure the that when the bottom of the tenon is seated against the bottom of the mortise that the top edge of the apron is flush with the top of the leg. I did this for all four aprons


    • deanbecker on 24 May 2019 at 7:55 pm

      You need to shim the short leg and trim all with a spacer so as to have a level surface. Floors are not level and 4 legs will almost always have a bit of rock in them

      • Ed Hitt on 7 June 2019 at 6:03 pm

        Thank you, Dean. I appreciate the time you took to reply, and your help.

    • Izzy Berger on 30 May 2019 at 8:33 am

      Hi Ed,

      Paul says:

      If you’re satisfied that you have done all these steps, then simply glue it up, let it dry, put the top on and secure and then see how the table sits on the floor. If it rocks, one of two things is a problem. Either the table is twisted, or the floor. You can ascertain which it is by using a spirit level. If the floor is level, then take incremental amounts off one leg until the table sits steady.

      Kind Regards,

      • Ed Hitt on 7 June 2019 at 6:06 pm

        Hi Izzy,

        Thanks again for your help. I’ll move forward then.

        It’s exciting to see the table come together.

        I heat my home with wood and harvest my own trees to do so. I took several of the trees and had them milled into lumber (2 in. thick by 10 ft. long).

        The wood is Colorado blue stain (beetle kill).

        I used this wood for the table. Thanks to Paul and him sharing his techniques I was able to process the rough sawn lumber into board for the table.



  25. millermj on 15 July 2019 at 12:52 pm


    What’s the threshold for using dowels? I mean, it there a rule of thumb (table size, use, etc) for when pva glue is insufficient to hold the mortise and tenon joints and we need to pin (dowel) them?

    • Izzy Berger on 17 July 2019 at 3:49 pm


      I passed your message on to Paul and he answer is below:

      The pins are what we call drawbore pins so they’re not just a dowel passing into a hole drilled directly through both mortise wall and tenon, but the holes are offset in such a way that the pin actually bends into the offset holes and pulls the join permanently tight. This process did not rely on any glue at all. In my view PVA glue is well proven and will always hold a tenon into a mortise. Mortise and tenon joints never need a pin, it is just a matter of personal choice.

      Kind Regards,

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