Olivia’s Table and Chair Project


With my daughter Olivia getting bigger and more grown-up with every passing month we decided that she could do with having her own table and chair to sit at. She could then use it for eating meals, drawing, painting and playing games etc rather than having to use a high chair all the time.

Although there are plenty of tables and chairs available to buy in the shops, as usual I wanted to build this myself. My woodworking projects are rarely a way to save money as I’m sure most of the time it’d work out cheaper to actually buy a cheaply made product than it would cost in tools and materials. But hey, the point here was to make something I could be proud of!

So I started with my usual 3D designs on the computer, based on measurements of commercially available products. There were a few various “standard” sizes which manufacturers seemed to be offering in the toddler furniture range, so I decided to build to the larger of these size just to make sure there was room for Olivia to grow into it. Also I figured if it was wrong, it’d be easier to cut some off the legs than it would to stick some back on again 😉

The 3D Plans Built on the Computer

The design was pretty simple, but you will see that it did change slightly as I went along. However the overall measurements stayed the same.

The first stage in construction was buying the timber. As my plan was to build this project pretty fast and also to paint it, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on materials. So I decided to just nip down to B&Q to look for some cheap(ish) PSE boards which I could just buy off-the-shelf. Lucky for me, when I went they had a bargain bin full of random boards and I managed to buy a load of wood for under £15! All of this would be more than enough for the basic framework.

B&Q had a bunch of timber in their bargain bin, and all of this timber cost less than £15

I also managed to liberate an old table top which my parents were going to throw away. So all-in-all the materials for this project were pretty cheap.

The next step was to cut the boards to size. This also gave me a great opportunity to test out my brand new table saw 😉

Cutting the boards to length on my new table saw

Narrowing the boards on the table saw

The cut parts for the chair ready for joining

All the parts for the table ready for joining

Because I wanted to get this project done quickly, I decided against using traditional joinery techniques. Instead I used a pocket hole jig system to allow me to join the sections using screws. This may sound like a bit of a cop-out but the fact that pocket hole projects are very strong and quick to build, meant that there really was no question in my mind. Also because this project was going to be used/beaten-up by a little kid, it didn’t seem to make sense to devote too much time and effort in the joinery. Something robust and functional was all I needed. You can see from the pictures how the pocket hole system works.

Using a pocket hole jig to drill sockets

This board has had the pocket holes drilled ready for joining

Joining two boards with the pocket holes

With all of the parts drilled and ready for joining it was just a case of getting the drill/driver out and joining everything up. I had to use my clamps some fairly inventive ways to ensure parts didn’t move while being joined as you can see.

Using a clamp the pieces were held in place while being joined

The first pieces joined

This process was continued…

…until the frame was almost complete

At this point I needed to make a chair back. In my original design it was just a straight board across the back but I wanted to do something a little more interesting and round the top over nicely. In order to make the back, I edge-joined 3 boards, planed and sanded them and then cut the new design.

For the chair back, 3 lengths were edge joined

They were flattened with a hand plane

And sanded smooth

I decided to make the top round and so drew the outline with a compass

The round was cut on my band saw

The finished round cut

The round was sanded up to the line where I hadn’t got it quite right

the chair framework was all done and just needed a seat

The next task was to cut the seat. As Mentioned earlier, I had managed to salvage an old table top for this and so I cut that down to size on the table saw again.

Cutting a section off the old table top

Then cutting the chair seat to length…

…and width

Then with the seat cut to size I sanded and notched it ready for fitting

The chair build was finished, ready for painting

And that was that! Pretty fast construction. Before doing the table or painting the chair however, it was time for a test fit 🙂

A quick test of the size before doing anything else

It certainly looks to be the right size anyway. Plenty of room to grow 🙂

Next was the table. The framework for this was even simpler than the chair and construction was very fast.

Using the same methods as the chair I joined the legs and aprons together

Joining the aprons with pocket hole screws

For the table top, I used another piece of the old salvaged table. There was quite a bit of varnish on the old table and it took some work with a sander to get it all off. I also rounded the edges of the table to remove any sharp edges. You can also see where I used a bit of wood filler to fix some break-out from the the rouding-over. Fortunately as the plan was to paint it, none of this mattered.

For safety I rounded over all the edges of the table top to remove any sharp edges

The old table top had some kind of varnish on it, so I had a bit of a job sanding it all smooth

I also rounded the corners to stop any small heads from injuring themselves

Next it was just a case of joining the top to the frame. Again using some crazy clamping and a drill/driver the top was easy to attach.

You can see the clamping setup I had to use to hold everything still

More pocket holes to join the top to the legs

As you can see, I didn’t bother doing any work on the underside of the table…time is a precious thing after all 🙂

And that was that! In total the building of these items took only a few short evenings of work.

The built table ready for painting

The next job was painting, and this took quite a bit longer. Mainly because paint takes time to dry and I chose white, which I find always takes loads of coats to cover properly. Firstly I filled in all of the exposed pocket holes to make those parts look nicer. The holes hidden by the seat and table top I didn’t fill as this wasn’t necessary.

Some of the pocket holes were visible on the chair and so I filled these in with wood filler

Then it was just a case of paint, paint and more paint until it was all covered. I decided on white as that’s the primary theme of our dining room furniture, but I wanted to do the seat a different colour to help contrast it a little. I had some brown paint left over from the Rocking Horse Project and this was perfect.

I painted the chair frame white and used brown paint for the seat

The table was painted fully white


As you can see from the photos, Olivia took to using it straight away. She now has many of her meals at her own table and uses it all the time for playing and drawing. Also because it was a fairly cheap and dirty construction, I’m not going to freak out if she paints it all sorts of crazy colours or spills her spaghetti bolognese all over it 🙂

Olivia doing her puzzles at the table

Already a popular piece of furniture

Olivia seems to like sitting here