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Posted by on Jun 28, 2012 in Craft, Life | 15 comments

Building a craft table

Building a craft table

We’ve been doing a lot of arts and crafts in recent months, and although we’ve enjoyed it, it’s become really obvious that our small sitting room is just not a suitable crafting space. Then I spotted this IKEA Expedit table on IKEA Hackers and an idea was born.

We were familiar with the Expedit shelving units because we used them to organise the bedroom wardrobes a few months back, and that in turn inspired some reorganization of the sitting room bookcase.

So we knew we could build the Expedit units but we weren’t sure how to put a table top on it. Then Charlie spoke to Wayne, a carpenter friend of ours, who suggested building the table top from pine. We had been looking at hardwoods – and at one point we were even looking at floorboards to see if they would work – but they were all prohibitively expensive. So we took Wayne’s advice and went with pine, and he built a beautiful table top for us.

We didn’t follow the format used on the IKEA Hackers version exactly. We wanted something a little bigger, and more versatile. So we arranged three Expedit units in a H shape and asked Wayne to build the table top to fit.


Fitting the table top for the first time

The table top isn’t secured to the Expedit units. It has a lip underneath it that fits snugly over the units to prevent it from slipping from side-to-side, while still allowing us to rearrange the units to suit. At the moment, the layout we’ve settled on has two units back to back at one end, and then some space (so that you can sit comfortably with your legs under the table), and the third unit turned sideways, so that its shelves face the end of the table rather than the side.

Once we had the table top in place, we chose a Ronseal Quick Drying Walnut Satin varnish to darken it. It took us two coats to get the color we wanted. We waited just over an hour between each coat. Then we applied a coat of Ronseal Ultra Tough Hardglaze Clear Varnish. We left it to dry for 24 hours and then decided to add another coat. So we sanded it lightly, wiped off the dust with a barely damp cloth, and then applied a second coat of the Hardglaze.


Our finished table! Look at that shine!

The following day we both agreed that the table top was exactly as we wanted it. Time to stock the shelves…


Paints of course!

Another trip to IKEA was in order, this time to get the storage containers for the craft materials. As you can see from the photos, we went for a range of containers, from glass jars, to fabric drawers, to cardboard boxes.


I love these boxes!


But these jars are definitely my favourite!

(Incidentally, if you’re in the North Dublin area and interested in building a similar project, just send me an email and I’ll be happy to share his details with you.)



  1. Looks great and really organised 🙂 What height is it, is it low enough for little man to reach the tabletop?

    • I think the finished table is about 34″ high. So he needs a stool or chair to really work at it. But if I’m really honest – this table is for me and Charlie! Little Man has a table and chair from IKEA that are just the right size for him.

  2. That looks fab L. What a great job you did!

    • Thanks Caitriona! To be fair, Wayne did the hard work. But I’m still very proud of that shiny varnish 🙂

  3. That looks really really good, well done on your craftiness. I’ll be leaving this out in front of yer man! When I decide to dig out my sewing machine again it’d be great… It’s great for the little fella, but yeah – it’ll suit your whole family for years.

    • Thanks Jill! I’m hoping the fact that it is so versatile in how it can be laid out means that it will be able to change to suit our needs over the years. Charlie has great plans for covering the underside of the table top in felt so that we can flip it over for board games when it’s not being used for arts and crafts.

  4. the moveable top is genius I tell you.

  5. Nice work! I’ve been thinking about re-hacking my original hack to make space for leg-room, so I can sew right on the table (rather than using a separate table). This is a great idea!

    • Glad you like it! Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

  6. Wow! Very impressed. Haven’t heard of Ikea Hackers before though…am I missing something?

  7. Love, love, love it.

    • It’s even better in real life Joanna.

  8. Wow! Amazing! It’s almost the project I plan to do. I saw here and there on the net about modifying the Expedit collection and before doing so, I’m calculating alot.

    I got 2 Expedit 2×4 at half price on last Black Friday! :0)

    I have some questions:

    – Cutting a 2×4 in the middle to get 2 2×2, will they be strong and stable enough to hold a MDF table top? (4’x6’x1″) The MDF material is very heavy…

    – Or should I put both Expedit 2×4 under the MDF table top?

    Thanks alot!

    • I can’t imagine the Expedit would be very stable if you cut it. We used two 2×2’s.

  9. How did you make the lip? Do you have a photo of it? Thanks!


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