Makin' a coffee table
August 22, 2009 1:54 PM   Subscribe

I don't have a saw or know anyone that does. Where can I get two 28" or 30" round pieces of plywood, about 3/4" thick? I live in Chicago and am willing to pay about $20.

Any other ideas are also welcome: I have two of these (wooden cable spools) and I would like to make two coffee tables out of them. I want to add a solid round top and then paint them. A round piece of plywood seems the easiest option, but I'm open to any other ideas!

posted by ohio to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
Try Home Depot - they may have pre-cut rounds.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:14 PM on August 22, 2009

ditto. Home Depot will make a couple of cuts for free with their nice table saws on anything that you buy there.
posted by fieldtrip at 2:18 PM on August 22, 2009

I think it's going to cost more than that. Lumber ain't cheap.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:24 PM on August 22, 2009

Yeah, but Home Depot will only do straight cuts, rightfully so. It's a bit trickier cutting a perfect circle into a piece of plywood if you don't have the proper tool set up.
For that kind of money, it's gonna be tough to get a nice round ply. How about these:
Crappy laminate, but cheap.
posted by newpotato at 2:25 PM on August 22, 2009

Plywood is not that cheap. Especially 3/4" ply. I haven't bought any in a while, so I won't quote prices. But the last time I did, I was utterly shocked at how expensive it is.
posted by Netzapper at 2:27 PM on August 22, 2009

I think Ikea sells some mix and match tables so you could just buy round table tops without any legs, and put them on your spools.
posted by cushie at 2:36 PM on August 22, 2009

Response by poster: new potato, that would definitely work if the shipping weren't 3x the price of the tabletops! Definitely the right direction.

I guess I would be willing to pay a bit more, but too much more would wipe out the savings from making my own tables! Would 1/2" plywood cost much less? What about renting a saw?
posted by ohio at 2:39 PM on August 22, 2009

You could request an old tabletop from Freecycle or similar group. Also, check with your local used furniture shops, they sometimes have broken furniture they plan to refinish, you may be able to get a tabletop.
posted by Yorrick at 2:43 PM on August 22, 2009

Best answer: A jigsaw, which will allow you to cut rounds, should be available for rent. You can make a jig (essentially, a bar with a nail in the middle) to make a perfect circle, or mark one out and cut it freehand. For a table that size, it shouldn't be hard to make a decent circle, and then sand the edges to make it look smooth. The exposed edge of the ply will have a nice industrial look, and some polyurethane finish will make the table look better.

Alternatively, you can buy a decent jigsaw for as low as ~$50-60. Skip the very-cheap Black and Decker and Ryobi.
posted by JMOZ at 3:22 PM on August 22, 2009

You may have luck checking the scraps section of your Home Depot (should be near the saws for cutting wood) and the as-is section of your Ikea for the wood.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:33 PM on August 22, 2009

They have them at Orchard Supply Hardware - but I think that they may only be on the West Coast. Have you tried Lowes, Yardbirds or the equivalent in your area?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:37 PM on August 22, 2009

Seconding cushie's suggestion of Ikea--they have an area right before the cash registers where they sell damaged and returned merchandise at cut-rate prices. You'll need to do some digging, of course.

I'm not sure if Chicago has one, and a few minutes' Googling didn't turn one up, but many places have tool lending libraries where you can borrow power and hand tools for free or cheap, possibly with a deposit. Could be worth investigating.
posted by tellumo at 4:02 PM on August 22, 2009

ohio writes "What about renting a saw?"

To cut a perfectish circle in sheet goods you do not want a saw. Instead a simple circle cutting[pdf] jig, a straight bit and a router. Then use the router with a round over bit to ease the edge.
posted by Mitheral at 4:06 PM on August 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: that would definitely work if the shipping weren't 3x the price of the tabletops! Definitely the right direction.

Any restaurant supply house will have these in stock for around that price. I'm sure if you google there are plenty of restaurant furniture places around chicago. Most places will sell you just one or two tops, no problem.
posted by newpotato at 4:35 PM on August 22, 2009

I don't know where you live in Chicago, but if you live near any of the Park District wood shops, stop in to see if they could help you with this project. Most of the wood shops are very well appointed and each has a shop master there to help those using the shop.
posted by jeanmari at 7:35 PM on August 22, 2009

Response by poster: Quick note: I found round pine tabletops at Lowe's in Lincolnwood. $36 for a 36-inch, 1-inch thick top. Sort of the same as the restaurant supply ones, but easier to paint.

posted by ohio at 9:39 PM on August 25, 2009

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