Sweat Equity: The End Table

Alright, sweat equity adventure tour here we go!

Ana White Version

This was the table inspiration from http://www.ana-white.com

The end table was our first big DIY project.  OK, it is not technically equity in the house, as it does not improve the inherent value of the home.  But maybe it will prevent us from spending money hiring a Stager some day if we already have decent, matching furniture.  Plus, I will show at the end how much I think we saved relative to buying something similar.  The Goodies did not agree on any tables that we found even somewhat affordable, and discovered to our dismay that our mutual decor taste resided in high-end furniture.

Inspired by my good friends who had just done something similar, we decided on this table from Ana White’s website.


  1. Consumable materials (we didn’t keep track of the line items, listed on Ana White): about $40*
  2. Chop Saw: $120 (think it was on sale; entry level + good brand rule works)
  3. Kreg Jig: $100 (you kind of need to get the full system to make the holes)
  4. Manhours of work: 40-60 (don’t remember precisely but at least 20 were dedicated to just sanding ugh)

*Now Mr. Goodies and I slightly disagree on the true cost of this particular table.  Items 2 & 3 obviously work for other projects, but you do not know in advance how many others you will successfully complete with said tools.  I tend to think of $220 for tools as a sunk cost, assuming many other uses, but Mr. Goodies pointed out that this is a foolish, consumerist assumption from my more frivolous days.  I think we agreed on a cost of about $60 for this table assuming an amortization of tool cost over about 10 projects.  To this day, said tools have worked on 6 total projects including a wedding gift!

Now for the juicy stuff…

We weren’t preparing to document this project for PF/lifestyle design purposes, but based on the artifacts, here is the story.  It was pretty easy getting the basic table parts together once Mr. Goodies mastered the Kreg Jig.


Here’s the table with basic construction.  I was mostly in charge of sanding and finishing.  Nice furniture needs to be very smooth!  I used sand paper 50, 60, 120, 150, 180, and 220 on each piece.  I wouldn’t have needed 50 and 60 except this wood had ugly and deep ink labels all over it that needed to be scraped out.  And I learned later that 220 was probably not a good idea – it makes wood deliciously smooth, but so smooth that the wood does not take stain so well.  Since then I stick to 120, 150, and 180.


Mr. Goodies at the Chop Saw (which my uncle informs me is the only way to refer to a Mitre Saw if you wish to be taken seriously).  Note the rustic X notches coming in on the sides of the table.  The acute X cuts required an angle farther than the chop saw measures, so he had to mark and cut manually.  This was not noted on Ana White.


Table was finally done and the dog needed to inspect.  This was where I made one mistake not to be repeated.  Notice how the surface of the model table at the top of this post was all smooth?  But 2x4s in reality are not.  They are construction lumber, roughly and unevenly rounded at the edges.  So when you put them together each seam has an annoying little ridge.  And the table looks more “picnic” than “Pier1.”

For some reason I thought it would be good to sand down each seam, to smooth down the ridges.  But this is ineffective, and I accidentally wound up making mounds between each seam, along the profile of the table top, which then had to be sanded down to counteract.  (On the next project I discovered a better way.)


After the sanding fiasco it was time to finish and seal.  This table is made of pine, so we stained with a color called Colonial to give it a nice cherry look.  And we sealed with poly.  Another newbie mistake: the polyurethane we used gave an instruction to seal, sand, seal again, and sand AGAIN.  Bad idea!!  Skip the second sanding.  I have no idea why it says to do that – it just makes your masterpiece look scuffed and dusty up close.  We didn’t want it THAT rustic, but that’s why we started with something going in a corner.

The result!


The table’s ultimate home.  It’s kind of a shame to put something you labored over into the corner, but there will be more matching items by the time we are done.  FYI: real wood is extremely heavy and even a little table like this is challenging to carry.  Try walking it through your planned house entry before it’s done to make sure it fits, so you don’t find out when it feels like you are hauling a small car.

The bottom line?

We certainly didn’t see anything like this for $60 in stores/online, and we had fun making it.  And after that, we had one nice piece of furniture in the living room.  Here’s a “furniture comp” from a website I would actually consider using (Overstock).  At $179 (and who knows how much else for shipping) it’s fair to say we have a reasonably similar table for $119 less.  Or from the Goodies perspective, we were able to make a respectable table at a reasonable price rather than buying a cheesy table at the same price.  Because face it: spending more when you can build is also cheesy.

So, are you pumped to build something now? 🙂


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