How to Make a Table with a Faux Metal Top

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I've always loved galvanized metal and wanted this look in our coastal home, however, I didn't want the hassle of stretching real metal over a table. It turns out to be surprisingly easy to build an entryway or sofa table with a faux galvanized top if you create the look with paint.

(Image: Danielle Driscoll)

Scroll to the end of this tutorial for a full list of the materials you'll need to complete this project.

Step 1: Create the Top of the Table

Use the two 5-foot lengths of the 1-by-8 and drill 3/8-inch holes 1" in from the end, and then about 12" centers along one edge of each board, such that they match holes in the opposite board. You should use a dowel jig to ensure the holes are at the same position across the width of the board. Squeeze glue in the holes and spread along the matching edges of the boards; push dowel joints in. Clamp the two pieces together and leave overnight to dry.

Once dry, sand the surface smooth.

Tip

  • To avoid this step, you could buy a 1 x 16 length of wood. However, this will make your final top an extra 1/2" wide, you could account for this by having more overhang on the top, or adjust the below cuts.

(Image: Danielle Driscoll)

Step 2: Add the Table Skirt

Cut two 9 1/2-inch lengths of the 1 x 3 and two 54 3/4-inch lengths of the 1 x 3 using your miter saw. Use the Kreg Jig to create pocket holes in each end of each length. On the shorter lengths, add pocket holes approximately 2 inches in from the end (along one edge). On the longer lengths add pocket holes along one edge 2 inches in from the end and spaced 12 inches on center.

Position the boards on the underside of the table top, 1 1/4 inches from the edge with all the pocket holes facing the inside. Make sure each board is centered along the length. Attach to the top with the Kreg screws.

Tip

  • Use clamps to hold the wood in place while screwing.

Creating Skirt for Sofa Table
Creating Skirt for Sofa Table (Image: Danielle Driscoll)

Step 3: Attach the Table Legs

Cut each of the four 2 x 2s to your desired height. For this project, the legs are 25 1/4-inches.

Tip

  • Measure the height of your sofa before cutting the legs. Once you have the height, subtract 3/4 inches to accommodate the thickness of the top.

Stand the legs on the underside of the table, butting into the skirt. Clamp and screw from inside of the skirt with Kreg screws. Screw through the pocket holes.

(Image: Danielle Driscoll)

Step 4: Create the Cross Trim on Legs

Cut four pieces of 2 x 2 at 45 degree angles so both sides are 13 1/2 inches long. Mark two lines across each piece, 3/4 inches from the center. The lines should be square to the edge of the wood. These sections will be cut half way through to join two pieces together to create the cross trim.

Tip

  • Lock the depth of your miter saw so it can only cut halfway through the board. That is 3/4 inches.

Cut along the lines you've made and then several areas in between them to a 3/4 inch depth. Using either a chisel or continuing with the miter, remove sections of wood to make a channel. Place wood glue in the channels and press the boards together to make an X. Use the drill bit from the Kreg Jig to create counter sunk holes where the X will attach to the legs. Attach to the legs with Kreg screws.

(Image: Danielle Driscoll)

Step 5: Build and Attach the Shelf

Cut the 1 x 12 to 56 3/4 inches. (This can be done at your hardware store.) Cut 1-inch squares out of each corner, using a jigsaw. Attach shelf clips to desired height on your legs by pre-drilling holes. For added stability, use screws to attach to the brackets (wait to affix the shelf until after staining painting). The table is built!

(Image: Danielle Driscoll)

Step 6: Prep Table Surface for Stain and Paint

Sand with medium grit sanding block. Wipe off all sanding dust before finishing with paint and stain.

Step 7: Stain Table and Apply a Protective Top Coat

General Finishes Gel Stain makes finishing surfaces quick and easy. I used Antique Walnut on this table. Apply gel stain with either a brush or rag. I wiped on with a rag and also used a rag to wipe off excess stain.

Tip

  • Work in sections. Apply stain and wipe off before moving on to the next section. When wiping off stain, fold the rag so you always have a clean edge. Be sure to follow manufacturers instruction of disposing of rags.

Note: It is easier to stain with the table upside down. For the shelf, apply stain to both sides (allow to dry before flipping over). Allow the stain to dry 24 hours before applying desired top coat. Wipe-On Poly is an easy to apply oil based finish. Wipe on with a rag. Apply two coats for added protection.

(Image: Danielle Driscoll)

Step 8: Add Tacks Around the Table Top Edge

Galvanized metal is nailed in place on tabletops. To create this look it is important to use something that looks like these nails. We opted for carpet tacks but you could also use thumb tacks or other nails. Pre-drill holes and lightly hammer tacks in place. Place the tacks at random intervals to make them look more authentic.

(Image: Danielle Driscoll)

Step 9: Paint the Table with Metallic Paint

Brush on two coats, allowing the paint to dry between coats. Be sure to paint over the tacks too. For this project, I used Matthew Mead Studio's Metallic Paint in brushed steel.

(Image: Danielle Driscoll)

Here's how it looks dry.

(Image: Danielle Driscoll)

Step 10: Create a Faux Galvanized Finish

Take your two gray paints (Sterling and Soap Stone) and pour a little into cups and add water. Mix together. It is important to work in sections. Use a foam brush to apply some of each paint and then spritz with water and immediately blot with a paper towel.

(Image: Danielle Driscoll)

Tip

  • Make sure you have lots and lots of paper towels. As with the stain, you want to use the clean edge of the towel when blotting. Mix the paints unevenly to create a natural effect. Also blot to avoid any brush lines.

(Image: Danielle Driscoll)

It really is amazing to watch the paint transform the wood to look like metal! Fusion Mineral Paint has a top coat built in so there is no need to add a top coat, but you could add their wax or tough coat for added protection.

Step 11: Add a Galvanized Effect Along the Edge

Add the same effect along the edge. Apply the two colors and spritz. It is helpful to work in sections, placing a piece of paper towel under the edge of the top (to prevent paint from getting on the stained underside). Apply the same technique as above, blot and allow to dry.

(Image: Danielle Driscoll)

And you're done! Here's a look at the finished table top. Wouldn't you swear that was metal?

(Image: Danielle Driscoll)
(Image: Danielle Driscoll)
(Image: Danielle Driscoll)
(Image: Danielle Driscoll)

Things You'll Need

  • 1 x 12 poplar 5-feet, (1)
  • 1 x 8 poplar 5-feet, (2)
  • Legs of 2 x 2, (4)
  • 2 x 2 of 3-feet (for cross pieces), (2)
  • Dowel joints, (6)
  • 16 feet of 1 x 3
  • Kreg jig
  • Shelf support pegs
  • Kreg screws, 1 1/4-inch fine thread
  • Tacks (we used carpet tacks)
  • Gel stain by General Finishes in Antique Walnut
  • Rags
  • Wipe on Poly by Minwax
  • Brushed Steel Paint by Fusion Mineral Paint
  • Fusion Mineral Paint in Sterling and Soap Stone
  • Paper towels
  • Paint brushes / foam applicators
  • Dowel joint jig
  • Compound miter saw
  • Chisel
  • Jigsaw
  • Palm sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Cordless drill
  • Clamps
  • Wood glue
  • Plastic cups
  • Spray bottle filled with water

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