How to Make a Table: Episode 1

Table Making 1

This is an episode in a free series. Want to watch it? It is free to do so, you just need to log into the site and you can enjoy this video and many other videos we think you will love.

A table can be made with a small selection of tools and one joint, the mortise and tenon. Once the materials are prepared, the grain orientation on the outward faces can be chosen and the joinery laid out. Firstly, the tenons are laid out using the knife and mortice gauge, ensuring they are centred. Then, special attention is paid to ensure the mortises are laid out in the correct location on the legs.


  1. steel on 10 August 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Hello Paul and Team,
    thank you for this episode.
    I would like to know, in terms of upscaling, how to approach the material selection (top and leg thickness, apron width, tenon depth- & width). Could I simple use the same layout measurements for a 5 by 3 ft dining table as in your project? Would there be any addition to make in favour of stability (some kind of brace etc)? Are there any rules of thumb to this?

    Thank you very much,

  2. silenthill on 10 August 2016 at 3:51 pm

    No disrespect meant at all with this comment. I love WMC and I would follow along as Paul built a door stop. But this first video in this table series feels like I’ve gone back in time to the first video I ever watched. It doesn’t feel like a Master Classes progression. Paul is even showing how he uses his square on the proper side, an almost Day 1 technique. Was there a recent influx of new members and perhaps they’re being shown how current the content is ? I would sort of understand if that were the case.

    • Dan Roper on 10 August 2016 at 8:55 pm

      I agree that at times there are many redundancies with technique descriptions. I rather consider them as reinforcements for me and there will always be a new person viewing these videos for the first time. Not everyone will start at the beginning as we have. Some may only see this one episode at some point. It is always good to reinforce basic technique.


    • Shaun Williams on 4 October 2017 at 11:46 pm

      There’s always new people, and I feel like it’s a whole lot better to hear/see/try techniques TOO MANY times, than not enough! 😀

    • patchedupdemon on 13 April 2018 at 12:14 pm

      If I’m not mistaken,this was a paid project from when Paul was in Wales.
      It’s been made free,so we can’t complain really,also back then Paul and crew were at a different stage to where they are now,regarding the teaching progression

    • Tom moores on 28 April 2018 at 10:35 pm

      I would consider a small table like this to be a somewhat beginner project so detailed instruction would be a benifit

    • Richard Singer on 15 May 2022 at 3:45 pm

      As a recent member of WMC I can see where this comment is coming from, but I don’t agree with it. For me as a self taught amateur woodworker who has picked probably up a lot of bad habits or just haven’t come across the best way of doing something, what I value in these videos is the instructional aspect perhaps more than the project itself. Nevertheless, what I would really value is some sort of grading of difficulty of the various projects so that we can select items of progressive difficulty in order to build our skills. There is nothing wrong in my view in introducing simpler projects down the line. After all, its nice to build something that’s not too taxing every now and then, especially if they are useful, or perhaps as gifts.

      • Richard Singer on 15 May 2022 at 3:48 pm

        I wanted to edit the above so that it made better, sense but couldn’t work out how to do it. Is there a way?

  3. William Fariss on 10 August 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Will there be any drawings or anything with dementions?

  4. cabanon on 10 August 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Hi Paul, the alunnos who have spent years learning new things and I think we need to move the abilities of this project have already been shown in other. projects must be different to make and grow about it, thanks.

  5. cabanon on 10 August 2016 at 6:09 pm

    We expect more of you as we go in class and not left alone in good words in his blog.

  6. Eddy Flynn on 10 August 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Another fantastic skill builder thank you all so much

  7. MartyBacke on 10 August 2016 at 6:51 pm

    I’m with the others. This project is too basic, considering it covers material already presented long ago (and still available to watch).

  8. dicksters on 10 August 2016 at 7:12 pm

    I empathize with Charles and Aitor, and do understand Paul’s dilemma of producing videos that address different levels of skills. That said, though I’ve seen these techniques before and utilized them myself, just watching Paul perfectly demonstrate his craft is appealing. And even then, I inevitably learn something new; lately I’ve been fascinated watching his hands as they move effortlessly throughout the process. For me, it’s always a pleasure watching a genius perform, regardless of the level of sophistication.

  9. Joshua P on 10 August 2016 at 8:32 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,

  10. billstennett on 10 August 2016 at 8:44 pm

    I agree it would be really interesting to get some knowledgeable insight into how to scale the design.

  11. Dan Roper on 10 August 2016 at 8:51 pm

    Truly enjoyed this first episode on Table Making. Unlike most of the other comments I am seeing, I greatly appreciated not having to sit through the stock preparation. You have done two wonderful videos on how to prepare the stock and the jig you made for processing the legs to equal proportion. Wonderful start! Looking forward to the next release.


  12. jeff100 on 10 August 2016 at 9:04 pm

    I’m a little surprised at the criticism of this project. Although I’ve been a student of WMC for almost two years now, including participation of the prior two WMC table projects already mentioned, I look forward to this project as an opportunity to allow me to capture and evaluate the overall process for making a table, simply put, when to do what, and why. This process of making a table will become my ‘build plan’. It’s so very important to work to a well designed build plan to have consistent repeatable quality in your work. Understanding this process, this plan appears to be the purpose of this project.

    I just finished this first episode and took ample notes forming the rough draft of my build plan for a simple table. The final draft of this build plan will be the process I use to build every table I ever build no matter the design, features or material. I expect as we work through this project in WMC, Paul will continue to provide guidance on the ‘process’ of the craft of building a table, the accepted ‘best practices’ of craftsmanship for table builds. This is of great value to me. Thanks Paul.

  13. Reno on 10 August 2016 at 9:10 pm

    I just joined recently, so of course I’m not the least bit dissatisfied with this project. But perhaps I could make a request for a future table project:

    1. Let’s see: two or more of Paul’s {apprentices/ students/ minions} remove one of the big crosscut saws that hang behind his bench, and use it to cut a slab from a large tree trunk.

    2. Dry it properly (I would use vacuum rather than a fan).

    3. Flatten it for use as a table top.

    4. Apply legs and whatever else is required.

    5. Finish with a suitable varnish or lacquer that shows off the unique figure of the wood.

    I mean, those big saws aren’t just for decoration, are they?

    • ehisey on 12 August 2016 at 12:08 am

      You really would not want to use a vacuum to dry the wood, it takes weeks or longer with fans, vacuums just don’t move the volume of air needed.

  14. petervalcanas on 10 August 2016 at 9:57 pm

    This is a nice little project and it reminds me that I need to practice my Mortise and Tenons.
    It does seem a little repeatative but I need that at my age.

  15. phrx on 10 August 2016 at 10:39 pm

    Videos are generally very interesting, this one is definitely useless. It is not fair to propose such a basic video (and project) to customer who have already paid several monthly subscriptions.
    Sorry for the direct speaking

    • dude on 11 August 2016 at 10:19 pm

      Oh and ‘phrx’: you are not speaking but writing and your writing is not direct just rude. Embarrassing.

    • John Glendening on 27 March 2018 at 2:38 am

      Being a raw beginner, I’m thankful for this video series. So all the repetitiveness of instruction that I can take in will be most welcome. I don’t mind paying the money to download these seven videos, and rather look forward to viewing and absorbing – more than once.

      Somehow, I doubt that the videos will end up as useless, but rather they will be well viewed many times.

      Thank you Paul!

  16. NikonD80 on 10 August 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Whilst I understand and to some extent agree with the frustrations brought up by my fellow apprentices, I think that perhaps we should all wait until the project is finished so we have the full context of what Paul is trying to show us. Paul often tells us it’s not what you make but how you make it and perhaps this is part of the lesson he’s trying to demonstrate. If he feels that this is an ideal next project for us then I’m willing to wait and see. In the previous chessboard project Paul mention that it would work well with a table so I’m assuming that this is part two of the project; a nice little table that you can put you chessboard on if you’re so inclined. The alternative theory is that Paul has indeed misjudged things a tad but perfection is for the gods and he’s allowed the odd mistake like anyone else.

  17. dude on 10 August 2016 at 11:10 pm

    A mastercraftsman is trying to teach you something.
    So yes we all paid for this course so watch and learn and save the complaints.

  18. Derek Long on 10 August 2016 at 11:55 pm

    Paul, you forgot an item in your inventory at the start of this video: a nice cup of tea!

    • oldman118 on 11 August 2016 at 1:18 am

      Coffee,definitely coffee…not tea. The tea was way too soggy after it was pulled from Boston Harbor (just joking of course)

  19. mxbroome1 on 11 August 2016 at 1:14 am

    I like the project but wish for more info on the whys of some choices. Why the leg sizes. Why the apron depth. Why the tenon width and length. Seems like you could make the tenon shorter and save the mitering work so there must be a reason. Why cut mortises first? Doesn’t seem like it should make a difference since we cut tenons slightly over sized then fit. Why set the mortise in at 3/8″? Before I tried a different sized table, there are lots of questions I would need to find an answer to.

  20. Gary on 11 August 2016 at 1:33 am

    I think it’s good to have a “back to basics” refresher periodically. As Paul wrote once, when he was an apprentice repetition made for skill building. And this course can certainly be combined with other lessons, for example, using the recent chess board project as a top for this table. Paid subscribers to this course are getting a wealth of knowledge for a very small, reasonable price!

  21. mattchapman on 11 August 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Thank you Very much, to all involved in making this video. 😀

  22. David R. on 11 August 2016 at 9:24 pm

    If I’m not mistaken, the wood is at least partially recycled, there seem to be some indications of holes in the end-grain of the legs and some edges seem to have remnants of round-overs with darkened wood. I reused ash from aprons and legs of a larger table myself to make a small table recently.

  23. knightlylad on 11 August 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Thank you for the lesson.

  24. dude on 11 August 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Oh and ‘phrx’: you are not speaking but writing and your writing is not direct just rude. Embarrassing.

  25. ehisey on 12 August 2016 at 12:16 am

    I am rather happy to see a simple table done. You can focus on the important details of the making. If you are not interested in the lessons, and just want “follow the video” plan for making stuff this is probably not the video project for you.

    For all the “long time watchers” that complain, just because it is not good for you does not mean it is not a good starting video for someone else. The WMC team is about passing on skills and real woodworking knowledge not necessarily always fancier projects.

  26. Glenn on 12 August 2016 at 1:28 am

    My way of thinking is if I learn 1 thing it is a lesson well done , I’m pretty sure I will learn something here because I’m sure I haven’t seen Mitered haunched M & T done in the other projects , like the ganging trick these are the skills I want to adopt , they are skills of a master builder who got taught by master builders and developed over a lifetime of working with wood

    I would love to see Paul’s full foundation course up where we can use it , I have a sixteen year old Son who is autistic and we made his first spatula and spoon together using the beta site with the spatula course on it , it was a magic time together

    Regards Glenn
    Gravesend ,NSW

  27. Anthony Greitzer on 12 August 2016 at 2:37 am

    I’ve been a member for a year. I learn something new in almost every video and I ‘ve watched most of them. To those who feel this is redundant, you’re right. So with that now established, go sell a table like the one Paul is making because it seems like you are master craftsman. Or, make one for the Whithouse if you’re good enough.

  28. smahurin on 12 August 2016 at 6:28 am


    How crucial is the 3/8 (10mm) chisel if using 3/4″ stock. I assume you want a stronger tenon with the 3/8 versus a 1/4″ (6mm) one. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. You are a true inspiration!


  29. Wayne on 12 August 2016 at 6:33 am

    I don’t think I was complaining, merely putting forward that including a drawer would add interest to the project. In hindsight it didn’t make sense anyway as I’m sure these videos are all finished before the first is released, at least on a small project like this one. People seem to be focusing on the value of money spent for content received but the cost has NEVER felt out of line to me. It is just the time spent waiting for the next project that cant be replaced. I might be in the minority that would cheerfully pay more for faster content release each week, I love these videos and the instruction within them.

  30. willfeyn on 12 August 2016 at 7:58 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.

    • SharpPencil on 12 August 2016 at 9:00 am

      Well said

    • STEVE MASSIE on 16 August 2016 at 9:59 pm

      Well said I couldn’t have said any better, and I totally agree I learn something with every video. Also the pricing is affordable if it were a whole lot more most younger people and some of us older people who are on a fixed income ( me included ) would not be able to afford this program. This is the best thing going in my opinion, I don’t even buy magazines anymore because Paul and crew give me what I am looking for.

      I also realize not every project is going to be for everyone and that is OK because that is your choice. However I seem to learn something new and refresher courses are welcomed in my book.


  31. STEVE MASSIE on 12 August 2016 at 2:17 pm

    I believe I have been a member from the beginning and even though a table had been built I am still enjoying this table build again. All ways learning good to keep things rolling and I personally have no problems with this series, if nothing else it is a great refresher course since I haven’t built the table yet but I will now.

    I do hope there will be drawings coming, Greg does a great job with them and I have been making a book with all the different projects.

    Thanks Paul and crew for another great job.


    • steel on 12 August 2016 at 7:47 pm

      a nice drawing is allready there @ project info page

  32. sidorenko91 on 12 August 2016 at 11:55 pm

    Woodworking is repetitive and I’ve watched the occasional table series at least 3 times. I get the frustration. I’ve been chopping mortises and splitting, sawing and paring tenons every minute I can. Seeing that someone else is doing it helps me deal with the difficulties of learning.

    I have absolutely no doubt I will learn at least one new thing with each new episode because that has been the case so far.

  33. dpaul on 13 August 2016 at 5:32 pm

    I appreciate Paul stating out loud his weaknesses and/or limitations. Somewhere in the 17:00 area, where he is marking a knife wall left-handed, he says it is awkward, as he is not ambidextrous.

    Perfect. I’ve felt that many times, but thought I was just a wuss and needed more practice. But Paul still feels it after all these years. Sooo, I’m not such a klutz.

    Thanks, Paul. I feel much better now.

  34. sethyellin on 15 August 2016 at 3:46 pm

    If I wanted to expand this table to accommodate a child’s work table, perhaps 48″ long x 27″ wide x 24″ high, can I simply lengthen the aprons proportionately, or do i need to scale things up differently? Would the table legs look too spindly at 1 1’2 inches square for a table of that size?

    Any thoughts would be welcome.


  35. Christopher on 15 August 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Hey Paul,
    I was wondering if you could help me understand the difference between when you would want to orient the legs using rift sawn and then plain sawn stock. I ask this because for some reason I was thinking that I had to always use rift sawn and then cut them so the grain lines were diagonal from corner to corner. I think I remember seeing that in a video or maybe I read it. Does that not apply in every case. I don’t know, so thats why Im asking. Thanks for another great video. It’s always amazing to me how much more I can pick up even though we have done the same thing many times. Im a Musician so I get the whole repetitive bit but It still amazes me all the same. lol
    Oh, Sorry about my last post my editor needs a reprimand for that one . I went back to see if you had the chance to respond and even I couldnt understand a word it said. Late night post. Must Stop. Cheers

    • ehisey on 15 August 2016 at 8:37 pm

      Christopher, I have see this said before and in most cases it was about lining up the grain for uniform appearnce across all legs from all angles. I like Paul’s approach better as you will rarely see more than to leg facings at a time, and when you do as long as the adjacent faces match you are unlikely to notice differences on opposite sides of a table.

      • Christopher on 8 September 2016 at 7:03 pm

        Hello Ehisey,
        This is true, but If your building say a Cabriole leg the grain will follow the shape of the leg by using Rift Sawn verses Plain Sawn. If you use Plain Sawn for this type of leg your curves will go in one direction and the lines of the grain in the opposite direction which is not a pretty site. Somehow I think I got confused years ago and thought that pretty much all furniture legs needed to be this way so I wanted Paul to clarify this for me.Which he did in his video today.
        Thank you for you help.

  36. Clifford on 15 August 2016 at 11:27 pm

    As I just started woodworking and after making Paul’s bench and 4 clocks I still appreciate going over details that some may find repetitive – I find it very helpful. I had never use a hand tool (plane, marking gauge, or square etc.) until 2 months ago. I find Paul’s teaching methods perfect for my learning style.

    I would like to see how to add a drawer if I wanted and how to scale the project (like bracing).

    • hphimmelbauer on 16 August 2016 at 6:13 pm

      I see it positive that there SEEM to be redundances. You notice that Paul always uses same tools, same methods and how it comes together. The watches, the todds, the workbench (my personal masterpiece as it is the center of my relaxing creativity) and so on. I do not have to make a living of it, but I follow the philosophical aspects of Paul*s Blogs too. And woodworking is a fullfilling hobby as for a lot of us.
      Ok, drawer? There are drawers at some trunks. Over and over again you have doors, drawers, posts, dovetails, tenons, mortise, chisel, hammer. The combination is it and how You work with it. I enjoy it (btw the sentence: “but not stealing” – nobody seems to notice.)
      Have a nice day…

  37. chris54 on 17 August 2016 at 10:49 am

    Hi folks, I’m into rally driving and some other forms of motor sport as well as wood working.
    i have a 10 min video of the best rally drive ever made. it was made in 1987. I’ve watched it over 100 times.
    I just love watching the best do simple things better than anyone else.
    Thank you Paul.

    • Wayne on 17 August 2016 at 4:23 pm

      Is that video “Climb Dance” by chance? That pikes peak footage is some of the best driving I have ever seen though not sure when it was released and it might not be 10 min long.

  38. mxbroome1 on 17 August 2016 at 3:14 pm

    I do concur that the level of instruction is better by far. I’m constantly amazed at what I have learned in the class. I am also amazed at what is put forward by others who pass themselves off as experts in the field. Reminds me of the adage that to spot a counterfeit you must focus on the truth.

  39. Andrew LeRoy on 8 September 2017 at 11:36 am

    I realize that this thread is quite past its freshness date but I did want to comment concerning some of the criticism.
    If there is something that you would want to add or remove from the project why not take the initiative to explore other resources like Ernest Joyce’s, “The Technique of Furniture Making” ( as a supplement. Take some initiative and learn how to add a drawer yourself instead of criticizing Paul’s wonderful efforts to teach his craft to others.
    At some point you have to depend on yourself for design and construction to build what you want to make.

    • Robert Harris on 27 March 2018 at 1:55 am

      Agree 100% with Andrew’s comment. If you know enough to ask, and these are great questions, you know enough to teach yourself, or to find other sources, or go ask another person a customized question, and apply it to your situation and desires. To become a master, you must master the basics. Thank you Mr. Sellers.

  40. Christopher Johnston on 9 June 2018 at 4:39 am

    I see no problem with Paul repeating teaching techniques any number of times . one of the people commented quite correctly that each episode may be viwed by any number of different beginners .Nobody who is watching these videos is so experienced that they can critique him ,as if you were you would be teaching and not looking at simple projects like these .He ,on the other hand cannot help repeating himself because he is a natural teacher ,and a daen good one at that.

  41. Harry Marston on 16 February 2021 at 4:29 pm

    Hi Paul,

    What wood did you use here please and would you recommend any others?



  42. Austin Conner on 16 February 2021 at 11:55 pm


    This table is done in White Oak.

    Most any wood could be used, I made one in walnut. Cherry, maple, and even pine/spruce are other great options.

  43. Harry Marston on 17 February 2021 at 10:31 am

    That’s great, Austin, thanks very much

  44. Jon on 17 February 2021 at 11:10 am

    I made mine from radiate pine from big box and it turned out very nice.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.