In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Industrial Table How-To: The Premiere of the Half-Assed Craft!

hopefully this mess will all make sense to you in the end.

I got this note from an Apartment Therapy reader, and I am providing my answer here for everyone. It's an AWESOME half-assed craft, and takes not terribly long if you attack it with optimism and good humor.

"I'm not sure how to e-mail you my question so hopefully you won't mind a random, unrelated-to-post- comment. I found your blog via a post on an industrial table on Apartment Therapy ( and you mentioned you had created, what seemed to be, a smaller industrial table. I was all set to build the table as shown on the post but with smaller dimensions. I would love to see pictures of the table you made as it sounds just as easy but petite enough for my apartment. Would you have any pictures/diagrams you could forward to me?"

Sorry, I don't have pictures -- but I've diagrammed it above. It is going to sound a lot more complicated than it is. This table is WAY easier than cutting and screwing together a bunch of random lengths of pipe.

You need:

(4) 4x4 inch cedar posts (cedar is better for you and the environment than pressure-treated wood, and they are readily available.) Cut to 29 inches tall. I found mail box posts that did the trick.

(12) 3-4 inch inch metal pipe flanges -- they are flat discs with threading that allow a pipe to get screwed in, and they affix to a surface with screws. Go to the plumbing section and ask.

(4) lengths of rigid electrical pipe of the same diameter as the flanges so you can screw in the pipes. The length of pipe will determine the dimensions of the table, so choose wisely. You'll need 2 of one length and two of another (or four equal lengths for a square table). Choose already-cut and threaded pipes that have threading on both ends. You should be able to find various lengths from 24" up to 6 to 8 feet.

To repeat: 2 in length X pipes for the ends, and 2 in length Y for the sides. (X and Y can be the same, or not, as you wish -- depends on if you want a rectangular or square table.)

I used two 24-inch pipes and two 6-foot pipes to make the table base for a 3 X 8 foot table.

Now: get 2 more pipes in length X. These will be used to anchor the table legs.

Also: get 4 short pieces of pipe, about 2-4 inches. Make sure they are threaded on both ends. They should be the same diameter as the other pipes.

And get (4) 90-degree elbow pipe fittings of the same diameter as the pipes.

Do yourself a favor and screw these things together in the store to make sure they all fit. Will save you from committing suicide later when you discover one of your fittings is too small or large.

You're going to need wood or a different material top too. More on that later.

And lotsa screws and a good drill with screw bit attachment.

Step 1: take your four top pipes (2X and 2Y) and twist on the flanges on either end of each of the pipes. Don't get clever and decide to screw your flanges to the wood before affixing the flanges to the pipes. Trust me on this one.

That should leave you with: four flanges, 4 elbow joints , and six other pieces of pipe (4 that are 2-4 inches long, and two X lengths. Make sense?) Set those aside for now.

Step 2. lay one of the cedar legs flat on the floor. Place a Y-length pipe and flange on a long flat side as close to what will be the top of the table leg as possible. Screw in the flange.

Step 3: Stand up the leg, and place the opposite end of the pipe and flange against another standing cedar leg. Screw in the flange in a mirror image of the first, close to the top. Make sure the flanges are level with each other or your pipes won't fit and you're table will be wonky. When you are done you should have a contraption made up of 2 standing cedar legs with a long pipe horizontally separating them. We'll call that Side A.

Step 4. Get a third cedar leg, and screw in another (X length) pipe and flange the same way you did the first one. So you'll have one cedar leg with one pipe hanging off it at a right angle near the top. Call that "end A." Now attach the flange on the end of that pipe -- the one hanging off your lone leg out there -- to the Side A. It will be attached to the inside of Side A -- a quarter of a turn from where the other flange is, so you will have the two pipes going off at right angles to each other, anchored by three pipes. This will all make sense as you go, I promise.

Step 5: repeat with the other cedar leg, attaching it to other cedar post at the opposite end of Side A.

Now you'll have a U shaped contraption that should stand up. Take your final Y pipe with flanges, and screw it in on both ends to the inside of the cedar legs of End A and End B and close the U. It will look something like this, but with wood posts in the four corners, and flange and pipe. This is offered here so you understand what the shape should be .... roughly.

You're almost done! this should really take you less than 30 minutes if you are handy with a screw driver. It should look like a table base now.

Step 6 is for added support: twist elbow joints on to one end of each of the shortest pipes you have. This will make them turn 90 degrees. Now twist in your remaining X pipes so each end of X now has an elbow joint and a little stubby pipe on it. You should have a flat U. Twist flanges on each end of the U, and attach flanges to the inside side of End A, as close to the bottom as possible. Do the same with your remaining pipes and End B.

Step 7. Take a break!

Step 8: You now have a table top yay and you can make a few fun decisions. What will you cover it with? Easiest is 3/4 inch plywood or medium density fiber board cut to extend over the table base by at least 4 inches on each side. So measure from the outside edge of each cedar leg to the outside leg opposite. Add 4 inches all around. That's what size your top should be.

Go get the top, drill pilot holes in each corner where the top will attach to the cedar leg below (place the wood on top and drill right through. This is called a dry fit, sort of. Then use a proper sized screw to attach. Don;t glue things. You'll never be able to get it apart). You can paint or not, of better yet cover the top with zinc sheeting before attaching to the legs. Check out for supplies and directions. How cool would THAT be? zinc top, cedar legs, metal pipes.

Or leave the top plywood-- spend a little extra to get furniture-grade plywood -- and seal it, or paint it like RoyMcMakin might have leaving some unpainted and some exposed. Observe the genius.

And while we're on McMakin, let's pause for another AWESOME idea. How easy would this be to totally jack? A couple of flea market chairs, a can of paint and a large canvas? Steal it, I command you.

But back to the table... alternatively, you can make a wood top from lumber cut to your specifications. and attached together on the underside with 3 cross pieces (you need 3 to keep the top from racking, or going all diagonal on you). It's pretty simple to do and will look like a picnic table (I'm presuming you're not skilled in joinery, which is why you are reading these convoluted directions). Flip over, finish as you wish, then attach to the base. Make sure your cross pieces aren't too deep or wide that they interfere with the pipes or legs.

You can make benches this way too, just make the legs shorter and the base only 12 inches wide on end.
The end.


  1. Thanks so much for putting together these instructions, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this, it's incredibly helpful. I really love the idea of adding on the zinc sheeting!

  2. check out rotometals - i got a 10 x 4 foot sheet of zinc suitable for table covering for about $140. If you're not persnickety it shouldn't be too hard affixing it to plywood. YOu need tin snips and some glue. There are tutorials on the website. Let me know what you make!

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  4. When it comes to decorating a dinning room, dinning tables are the focal point. Even if you are living in an apartment dinning table is a must. You can place it in the drawing room or the living room.