I Made A Table

(Caution: SUPER long post ahead. If you have no interest in HOW I made a table, do not read any further).

True story. I made a table. If you’ve met me, you’d realize that this is pretty extraordinary. I am not crafty, nor handy, particularly. I don’t make things. I BUY things. It’s just easier.

But then, after my hallway design, I needed a table. I shopped around, looking at different accent tables, but then, I somehow stumbled across this post (it’s after the cake story, scroll down). I don’t know this person or read this blog, it was totally random. But as soon as I saw it, I knew. THAT was my table, suddenly, no other accent table would do. Of course, that meant I had to make it.

And so I did. I have been making this table since September, three months of planning and execution. At first I was going to do exactly as she did and just gather hardcover books. I started browsing library book sales, to get them on the cheap. But then I knew that random books wouldn’t suit me. I thought about doing it by color, selecting the titles by spine color, to have a color themed table, but that didn’t feel quite right, either. Then I knew. Books are my thing. I needed to use books that meant something to me.

First, I went through the hardcover books I already own (not many, I’m a paperback kind of girl), I thought of which ones I was willing to part with and which ones had meaning for me. Then I sat down and made a list of other books, throughout my entire life that had meaning for me, books that I just plain love. When I told my mom, she offered up her coffee table book about Ireland, that I bought her, as a base, because it is so large, it would offer stability. I also have an Ireland coffee table book from my Gramma (her mom), that I also purchased. Those make perfect bookends for the project, now for the books in between.

Once I had my list, it was scouring used book stores and Amazon to track them down. I was worried about finding everything in hardcover, but I managed. There were one or two books I couldn’t find, but overall, I had plenty to use, so it was not a problem. After several weeks, I had all my books.

Then it began. First I glued the covers to the first and last pages.
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This was one of my Gramma’s books, that I inherited. She loved Danielle Steel and this was one of her all-time favorite books.
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She always put address labels in her books, so if she loaned them out, she could get them back. I love that. And I love that is hidden inside my table, like it holds secrets. Actually, it holds many. I left in all bookmarks, notes, etc. that I found in the pages, because they felt like part of the story, to me.
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(Sorry these are blurry, I’m gluing with my right hand and photographing, simultaneously, with my left).

I did not glue every page. Just the covers, then once those were done, I glued around the edges of the pages, cementing the whole thing together.
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Mod Podge was perfect for this. It was easy to use and worked well. I used two of the medium sized. One large would have been enough. The original blog said she used foam brushes for this work and I agree, this worked really well. And I used that same brush each time I did this. I just rinsed it out when I was done, let it dry overnight and then I could use it again.

Then I had to let them dry, at least overnight, and they needed weight to hold them down and keep the pages together. I did it in segments and used the other books as weight. Sometimes, if pages were warped or edges were curled, I’d have to go back and do another coat. It took a while, with the dry time and making sure each book was done thoroughly.

Once all the books were done, then I had to glue them to each other. For this, I used an industrial strength glue, I found at Jo-Anns.
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This glue was a little scary (if you read the label) but it seemed to work fine. It was a little hard to work with, but in the end, I was happy with it. One tube did the whole project. There was some left over, but I had punctured the tube, so it was leaking and I threw out the remainder.

This was a shorter process. I had to glue both books (so the top of one and the bottom of another, that would be touching, both sides got glue) according to the directions, so that took a bit longer, but overall, this was the quickest part of the process.
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Here are all the books, glued together. Altogether, I used 27 books to make it as high as I wanted it. I could have gone a titch higher, maybe 28 or 29. However, I was out of books, and I was not dragging this out any longer. Many of my books were super thin, had they all be standard hardcover novels (like Shadow Dance, pictured above) then I wouldn’t have needed as many as I had.

It was at this point in the process I began to see a small design flaw. Because my books get smaller as they go up, and because the top was the heaviest part, and because my books are varying sizes, the base, above, is not super stable. It’s fine, it won’t fall over by itself or anything, but it does not have a ton of stability.

Next came the table top. The OP used more books to form the top. But then I came across a different post (and I was going to post the link here, but evidently the site is gone since I last looked)where she used book PAGES to wallpaper an actual table. That sold me. I could combine these two ideas to make a perfectly unique, totally personalized table.

I chose Alice in Wonderland as my book for the top. Which meant I had to buy a copy of that. Not that I don’t own it, I own several copies, but I wanted paperback, I wanted illustrations and I wanted a certain size. I found what I was looking for on Amazon and ordered it.

The table top itself, which I apparently did not think to photograph before, was a piece of pressboard, cheap as could be, but pretty heavy.
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I was measuring for height, in the space, next to the chair, with the lamp I bought…and the table wasn’t done (none of those books are glued to each other, they are just stacked to give me an idea). But that is the blank pressboard I used for the tabletop…my before shot!

I got it for free at work, they were throwing it out and I looked at it and realized it might be the exact right size for my table. It was actually about three inches too long. That accounts for my ONLY help on this project, as I had my dad use his saw to cut off that excess. I didn’t worry about the edges flaking or chipping, because I was covering the whole thing.

Before starting that, I cleaned it really well, washed it and then wiped it with rubbing alcohol, to get any grease, etc. off of it. I wanted to make sure the pages adhered really well.

I measured out how many pages I could fit across the top. then I selected the pages I wanted for that, ones containing favorite parts of the story, or my favorite quotes. I then used a razor to cleanly slice the pages out of the book. Then I chose a bunch of other pages, randomly, to use for the edges and the bottom.

I started with the edges, folding them around the table and used more Mod Podge to glue them on. I wanted these on first so the top and bottom would cover it, making sure the edges couldn’t ever peel. I hadn’t planned on covering the entire underside, because you wouldn’t see it, but it ended up just being easier. I just didn’t spend much time on it. I slapped the pages on and glued them down.

Once the edges and bottom were glued, I had to let it dry over night. The next day, I started on the top. This is the part everyone will see of the table, so I worked super hard to make it perfect.

I lined up the pages exactly and Mod-Podged them. I tried to use light glue, here, so it wouldn’t show as much and also because I didn’t want the pages to warp.
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This was immediately after getting it done.

That ended up not being the best plan. They warped anyway.
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That’s a close up of the pages as they dried.

These pages needed to be glued really well. So after I had them all on, I let it dry for a day and then did a coat of Mod Podge over the entire table top. A layer of glue, if you will. That made sure there were no edges or holes or bubbles of any kind. Again…let it dry.
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That is the close up of the top after the final layer of glue. You can see how much smoother everything is.

Then I sealed it. I bought a high gloss sealant, in aerosol form, at JoAnns. I chose high gloss because I like shiny things, but you could use whatever finish you want.

This was DAYS of sealing to get it perfect. Spray the front. Dry overnight. Spray the back, dry overnight. Spray two edges, dry overnight. Spray other two edges, dry overnight. Then repeat the whole thing. After two coats I thought the bottom and edges were fine.

The top was another story. It wasn’t getting the seal I was hoping for. So I took it and did another layer of Mod Podge.

Now it is two layers of MP, then two layers of sealant, then another layer of Mod Podge. Dry over night. Then I did another three coats of sealant. At this point, I was OUT of sealant. I had used the entire can. I think it is fine, it seems fully sealed and it is nice and shiny, but, no kidding, I would have done a couple more coats, had I had more sealant.

The sealant is important because if it gets wet or people set things on it, I don’t want it ruined, so this is not the step on which I wanted to skimp. Also, no photos of this step because, honestly, it was clear sealant…

Once the top was done, then I carried the base to its new home (I assembled it upstairs on my table, for ease of working and to have good lighting). I didn’t want to finish on the table upstairs because then it would have been MUCH heavier and I didn’t want to have to carry the whole thing.

When the base was in place, I glued the other coffee table book to the bottom of the base and then glued that whole unit to the pedestal. That gave me good weight to hold it all together and let me balance it the way that I wanted.

And then I let it dry overnight before putting items on it.

All finished, this is what it looks like.
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That is the overview of the space, with the chair that inspired the room and the table, creating a welcoming little nook, right inside the door.
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An angled view…and you can see the shiny top!
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Here’s a full on front shot. I’m so happy with how it turned out. It’s not perfect, but I learned a lot doing it and it’s done. My very own personal table. Please, if you actually know me, stop by and see it. The pictures don’t do it justice because this is a dark hallway. It’s very pretty and shiny in person!
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2 thoughts on “I Made A Table

  1. That is awesome and it looks fantastic!! It doesn’t have to be perfect because you did it and it has your sweat in it so it’s more personal!! I’ve been working on a headboard for our room. I’m now having to wait on Mike to help with the legs (my measuring isn’t the greatest) so there’s no telling how long it will be 😉
    A thought for the future, you could always go to Joann’s (sounds like our Michael’s and Hobby Lobby) and get a glass cut that size to set on top just for more protection!! No clue on the price of that just sounds like a good idea 🙂

    • Thank you! I’m incredibly proud that I made this by myself. I am okay it isn’t perfect, I like it more, actually because it isn’t. The glass top is a good idea. My only concern is that the top is already super heavy and to put the added weight of glass…..

      Yes, JoAnns is exactly like Michaels or Hobby Lobby (we have both of those, too. I didn’t realize JoAnns wasn’t nationwide!)

      Can’t wait to hear about the headboard. You better text photos to me!

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