Can’t find the perfect side table? Find out how to make a DIY retro side table.
I decided to make a DIY retro hairpin leg side table for our recently renovated guest room and I’m really pleased with it! It’s the second time in as many months I’ve ended up making an item of furniture because the one I’ve imagined in my head doesn’t exist in real life!
Earlier this year I shared my plans to turn our guest bedroom into a multipurpose space by swapping the little-used Kingsize bed for a sofabed. However, rather than buy a sofabed, I had the crazy idea to build my own sofabed because I couldn’t find one to match my requirements, (New year, new project! ‘Operation Sofabed’ is underway!). Operation sofabed is now finished, but if you want to find out if it was a success or a complete disaster, you’ll have to wait a little bit longer as it will be the subject of a future blog post.
Finding the perfect side table.
I always planned on having a side table for our newly decorated guest room. However, I didn’t want to make a side table decision until we’d chosen a sideboard/chest of drawers. Mr T fancied something in dark wood and, in the end, we settled on a lovely Antwerp 6 drawer sideboard from Dwell. We both love the rich walnut colour of this modern sideboard, together with the minimalist handles and neat black metal legs. The Antwerp sideboard comes ready assembled. We managed to grab it during the sale when it was reduced from £699 to £499.
The rich walnut tones of the Antwerp sideboard were the perfect choice for our room (which you will see in a future post). The dark wood contrasting with the brilliant white wall behind it and working well with the dark teal (Dulux Teal Tension) of the feature wall.
Now, all we needed was a small side table to compliment our chosen furniture. I liked the idea of a walnut side table on black metal legs, to tie in with the sideboard.
I trawled through Pinterest and my favourite online stores for ideas. Although I spotted a few potential candidates and loved the idea of a table on black hairpin legs, I didn’t find anything to match my criteria.
If the perfect side table doesn’t exist, make it!
In the absence of a suitable ready-made table, it didn’t take long for me to start thinking about how I could make my own.
My quest for the perfect legs.
During my research, I discovered you could buy hairpin legs online and spotted some lovely legs on eBay from a company called The Hairpin Leg Company. They offer a wide range of hairpin legs, in different sizes and colours, at a competitive price. Unlike many of the other companies, their hairpin legs include free next day delivery, free rubber feet and free wood screws.
I checked out their website and discovered they are a small UK-based company specialising in hairpin legs. The company, founded by Adam and Tom, two design engineers, started from humble beginnings in a workshop using Adam’s grandad’s welder to make the first set of metal legs.
Impressed by their products and price, I placed an order for four 16 inch 10mm diameter black hairpin legs for £35.99.
I wasn’t disappointed! The legs arrived the next day. They were well packaged, fantastic quality and I loved the little extras too. I even received a thank you note.
About a week after my purchase, I received an email from Tom asking if I was happy with my legs. It also gave details of how to care for my legs and invited me to send them details of my hairpin leg project. I really appreciate touches like that.
What about the table top?
Now I had the perfect legs for my table, all I needed was a table top. I liked the idea of an oval or round table. However, I didn’t rate my chances of being able to cut a piece of wood into a round or oval shape myself! I needed to find something ready-made. That’s when I had an idea. Why not look for a suitably shaped wooden platter or bread board instead? Knowing my local HomeSense store stocked a range of great value wooden bread boards and platters, I paid them a visit.
I was in luck! I found a lovely large oval bread board reduced from £30.00! It wasn’t walnut, but for only £9.99 I could afford to buy a tin of walnut coloured varnish.
I bought a tin of Ronseal Quick Dry Interior Wood Varnish, Walnut, with a satin finish for around £10.
Now all I needed to do was make my table.
How to make a DIY side table.
To be honest, once you’ve chosen your hairpin legs and the wood for your table top, making the table is easy!
1. Preparing the wood.
Fill any holes, knots or cracks with woodfiller of a similar colour (I used natural) and sand it with a fine grade of sandpaper.
2. Fixing the hairpin legs.
With the table top rightside down, arrange the four hairpin legs so they are positioned an equal distance from the edges and mark around them (or simply mark the position of the screw holes) with a pencil. Fix the legs to the table one at a time using the supplied wood screws. Please note: the screws are for wood thicknesses of 20mm or more so if your wood is less than 20mm, use a couple of metal washers as I did, or use shorter wood screws. Once you’ve screwed the legs to the table, you can attach the rubber feet.
3. Varnishing the table.
I decided it would be easier to apply varnish to the finished table as it would be easy for me to varnish underneath. I prefer quick-drying varnish like Ronseal’s Diamond Hard Interior Wood Varnish as the brushes can be cleaned with warm, soapy water. Ronseal Interior Wood Varnish comes in a range of finishes and colours and is available from DIY stores like B&Q and Homebase. To achieve the shade and finish I wanted, I needed to apply three coats of varnish, sanding with fine sandpaper between coats.
My DIY Retro Side Table.
My DIY retro table was quick and easy to make and I’m delighted with the results. As I had to buy a pot of varnish, the entire project cost me around £55, so it wasn’t super-cheap. However, I’ve seen retro tables and bedside cabinets with hairpin legs selling for at least £80 on Etsy. What’s more, I have the table I want and the satisfaction of knowing I’ve made it myself.
If you fancy making a unique piece of furniture, you don’t need to start from scratch! You could give your existing furniture a new lease of life by painting it, varnishing it or adding hairpin legs or new handles or knobs.
If you like the idea of making your own furniture, why not check out these fabulous DIY furniture Ikea hacks using hairpin legs on The Hairpin Leg Company website:
Over to you.
What do you think of my DIY retro side table? Have you ever had a go at making your own furniture or accessories? If not, has my DIY retro side table inspired you? As always, I’d love to hear from you.