How to build your own hairpin table

Hairpin leg tables are the ideal DIY project, particularly for those who are new to the world of furniture making. Hairpin legs are extremely versatile and look good with just about any table top. The thin profile of the legs give a light airy look to any table while still being rigid and able to support very heavy weights.

Putting together a hairpin project is simple and whether you are making a coffee table, bench, desk or dining table, it is the same process each time. An additional bonus is that you can always reuse your hairpin legs for a different table if your needs or tastes change.

This is a very brief guide on how to put together your own hairpin leg table.

What you need

  • 16 x 8 g-10 g wood screws
  • Screw driver
  • Drill (optional)
  • Sander or sandpaper (if using a timber table top)
  • Polyurethane or finishing oil (i.e Danish oil)

Choosing your tabletop

You may already have that old door you’ve been saving as the perfect table top. Though, if you haven’t got anything and have yet to begin your search, it’s good to keep in mind a couple of key points:

  1. Almost any material can be used (timber, concrete, steel)
  2. It’s a great opportunity to get creative (consider old doors, pallets, shelving plants, slabs of timber)

We generally recommend using a table top of at least 25 mm in thickness. This allows enough thickness for the screws to go into and also to prevent the table top buckling if it is going to be carrying a lot of weight. You also need to use a table top that is at least 220 mm in width to allow enough space for the screw plates at the top of the hairpin legs. Keep in mind that the table top you start with doesn’t need to be forever – you can easily take the legs off and put them to use on a different table top.

Positioning the hairpin legs

It is best to prepare your table top before attaching the legs as this will make it easier to work with. This includes cutting any edges or sanding that you need to do. Oiling and painting can be left until the end. Once your table top is all set and ready to go, flip it upside down to mark out the placement of the legs. When working out where to place the legs, a good rule of thumb is to place the legs in the very corner of the table top. You can then mark an L on the surface using the inner corner of the screw plate. Then move the hairpin legs towards the centre using the L you have drawn to position the outer edge of the screw plate. It is also fine to position the screw plate closer or further based on personal preference.

Attaching the hairpin legs

With the plate positions marked out, you can begin marking each of the screw holes. We recommend using an 8 or 10 gauge (8g or 10g) screw with a length as close as possible to the thickness of your table top. For example, if you have a 30mm table top, it is best to use a 25-28mm screw. If you are using quite a hard wood or just to make things easier, you can pre-drill the screw holes that you have marked out. Always remember to use a drill bit size that is at least a couple of mm smaller than your screws. You can now proceed to fasten the legs to the underside of the table.

Finishing the table

Once the legs are on, you can apply your protective finish to your table top. Polyurethane or Danish oil are both great options for this depending on what sort of finish you are going for. Polyurethane will often be glossier and will provide more of a protective layer to the timber, so you’re less likely to get cup rings or oil stains. Danish oil on the other hand is an oil that soaks into the timber and will protect the timber but will still keep the texture of the wood.

Feel free to get in touch to talk about any project you’re working on or even thinking about undertaking. We love talking hairpin legs and are happy to provide any advice or suggestions. 

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