Easy How to Build an End Table Using Only 2×4’s | Free Plans

April 4, 2024
nicole

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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See just how simple it is to build an end table. Follow my easy step-by-step tutorial on how to build an end table. 

A few weeks ago, I shared the coffee table I built for my son and his new bride. Today, I’m sharing how to build an end table to match that coffee table.

Header Image

This end table is made using only 2×4’s. However, as I do with all of my builds, I like to take off the manufactured edge. Doing this gives your furniture build a more finished look.

Therefore, I’m going to share both options with you.

  • How to build an end table using 2×4’s.
  • And how to build an end table using 2×6’s to achieve a more finished look.

One way requires a table saw or circular saw, the other way does not. So, let’s dive in to this easy DIY end table build.

Want to check out the matching coffee table? Here’s the link

Easy How to Build an End Table

(Instructions are based on a 20 inch long x 14″ wide; 24″ tall end table) If building a different size, be sure to adjust measurements accordingly). 

Wood Needed for Simple End Table:

If building the 2×4 end table (no table saw or circular saw required), you will need the following wood…

2– 2x4x8 pine boards

If building the 2×6 end table (table saw or circular saw REQUIRED), you will need the following wood…

2– 2x6x8 pine boards

Materials Needed to Build Your Own End Table:

Here’s a list of the products I used:

Note: General Finishes Poly is a little more expensive, but provides a super strong protection. I highly recommend it for the table top, since that is the part of the table that will see the most wear and tear.

Power Tools Needed for End Table:

Amazon Affiliate Links Included

NOTE: If you’ve never used a Kreg Jig, here’s a great tutorial.   If you don’t have one, I highly recommend buying one. You will use it all the time in the DIY realm! And it makes builds so much easier! 

End table next to gray sofa.

Step One: Rip your boards

NOTE: This step is only required, IF you’re using 2×6’s. If you’re using 2×4’s for your end table build, skip step one and move onto step two.

As I mentioned before, I like to get rid of the manufactured edge on all of my 2x’s before starting any project. This is very easy, but does require a table saw (or a circular saw will work too).

I’ll share the widths I take them to and then explain how I do this…

  • For this project, I want all of my boards to be 3 1/2″ wide. (The actual size of a 2×4)

Now for How I Do This: (Here’s a great post on how I give my boards a finished look)

  • As noted above, I want my 2×6 boards to be 3 1/2″ wide. They are originally 5 1/2″ wide.
  • I simply set my table saw for 5″ and rip one side of my 2×6.
  • Then I set my table saw to 3 1/2″, flip my board over and rip that side of my board.
  • Now I have a 3 1/2″ board with straight edges on both sides.
  • Follow these same steps for your other boards, to get rid of that manufactured curved edge and achieve a straight edge look.

If you need more instruction, check out this post.

Step Two: Build Tabletop

Note: From here on out, I’m going to refer to all of the boards needed for this project as 2×4’s. If you opted for the 2×6 boards, after step 1, they are now ripped down to the same dimension as a 2×4 board. The only difference is, they no longer have the curved edge. 

Using your miter saw, cut four 2×4’s at 20 inches each.

Using a pocket hole jig, such as a Kreg Jig, drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes down the length of one side of 3 of your 4 boards.

4 individual boards cut short with pocket holes.

If you have large clamps, they are helpful for holding the boards together while attaching them. However, if you don’t, no worries, you can still attach the boards without the clamps…

4 pine wood boards attached with wood clamps.

Fun fact: The clamps in the picture above were my grandpa’s. He was an amazing carpenter. He bought 4 of these clamps for $8.77. (I know this because, a couple of them still have the price tag on them). Wow!! I now have the privilege of owning all 4 of them. I cherish all of the tools he passed down to me. But these are my favorite! I use them all the time.

They still make these bar clamps today, but they are not cheap!! Certainly not $8.77 anymore. Haha! But, here’s a more affordable option, that works great too!

Attach the boards together, using 2 1/2″ pocket screws.

When finished, the underside of your table top will look like this…

Underside of a table top for how to build an end table post.

And the top of your table top will look like this…

4 2x4's attached with pocket hole screws.

Before moving onto the next step, it’s a good idea to sand the table top.

Sanding as you go, is much easier than sanding the entire piece of furniture all at once. You’ll also get a smoother finish on your furniture build sanding in sections.

At this stage, you’ll only need to use a 60-grit sandpaper. We’ll do a more detailed sanding on the table top at the end of the project.

After sanding the table top, using your orbital sander, with a 60-grit sandpaper, you’re ready to move onto the next step.

Step Three: Add the Table Legs

On the underside of your table top, measure in 3/4″ on all four sides…

3 2x4's with pocket holes.

I found it helpful to use a 3/4″ thick plywood board to draw my line all around my table top…

4 2x4's jigged together.

​Cut 4 legs at 22 1/2″.

Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes on one end of each board.

Using your 3/4″ markings, place the legs on the underside of the table, as shown in the picture below…

Table leg attached to the under side of a table top for how to build an end table post.

Here’s a look at all 4 legs…

4 legs attached to a table top with pocket hole screws.

Attach each leg, using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws.

Step Four: Add the Stretcher

Now you’re ready to add your last boards. Cut the stretcher boards to fit.

The way to measure this, is to measure the distance of the two legs from one another. You’ll want to measure from the top of the legs. As shown in the picture below…

Tape measure showing the distance between the legs of a table.

As you can see from the picture above, the measurement from the inside of one leg to the inside of the other leg is 9 9/16″. Therefore, I’ll cut my stretcher at this measurement. The other stretcher should be the same length.

Attach both stretchers using wood glue. Drill 1/8″ pilot holes and drive 2 1/2″ wood screws to firmly attach from the outside…

2x4's attached with 2 1/2" wood screws.

And that’s it! You now have a small end table ready for the finishing touches…

Step Five: All the Finishing Touches

Sand

Sand the table top in the following order of sandpaper grit…

  • 60
  • 120
  • 150
  • 220

I know sanding is not the most fun part of the project. But taking the time to work through each of these grits, will make all the difference in the overall feel AND look of your table top.

Going straight from 60-grit to 220-grit can cause swirly marks to occur. Not a great look and very hard to get rid of. So, taking your time will pay off.

Not to mention, you’ll get that smooth furniture feel. So good!

For the frame of the table, sand in the following order…

  • 60
  • 220

Here’s a full tutorial on how to get the best finish on any furniture build DIY project.

You may be wondering, why the extra time with the table top but not the legs and stretcher? There are a couple reasons for this:

  • the table top is a larger surface that draws the eye to it. Any imperfection is easily seen.
  • the table top is the area of the table that will receive the most contact. Therefore, it’s nice to have a smooth finish.

Legs for an end table.

Paint or Stain

You’re now ready for paint or stain. My son and his wife chose a two-tone finish. So, I first stained the top with Puritan Pine. And then painted the bottom of the accent table with Tricorn Black in a satin finish.

End table make of wood for how to build an end table post.

Add 2-3 coats of poly on the top. I like to use this harder, more durable poly for all of my tabletops. A little more expensive, but worth it, for the part of your table that will see the most wear-and-tear.

Once again, the bottom of the table doesn’t need as much protection. 1-2 coats of a less expensive poly is fine.

End table next to gray sofa.

This great little end table is such an easy build. And the perfect addition to your living room or dining room.

I hope you found these simple DIY end table plans to be easy to follow.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I love helping you turn these build plans into a beautiful furniture piece.

Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!

Until next week,

Happy Building, Friend!!

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Hop over to Instagram to see all of the D2B behind the scenes. What am I working on now?….come check it out!

More Great D2B Table Posts:

DIY Pottery Barn Table Dupe 

DIY West Elm Table Dupe

How to Build a Modern Nightstand

 

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