Have you seen those side tables that slide under the front or side of a couch so you can set drinks and stuff on them without taking up all the space of a full end table?  I really like them.  Maybe it’s just laziness but it’s pretty handy to not have to constantly lean over to the coffee table to get something.  Or you can just pull the coffee table up to the couch like I do.  I call it couch fort.  It keeps my items close at hand and also blocks the dogs from getting to me.  Anyway, a need arose for a side table like this but the couch was a recliner couch which meant there was no way to slide anything under it.  Bummer.  There wasn’t near enough room for a regular size end table so I had to get creative.  I introduce to you the world’s smallest end table*!  (*This has not been verified by the Guinness Book of World Records)

It’s only 9” wide and made from three 1x3x8 pine boards.  That’s less than $30 in lumber!  The tables I built are actually only 8” because I could not spare 1” on either side of the couch.  Really.  So, while you’ll see me building it just a bit different in pictures, the free plans I have included detail it at its full size.  I also built two tables so everything you see on the blog is doubled.  The plans are for just one table.

Mini Side Table Tutorial

I started out by cutting all of my pieces to size. (Measurements can be found inside the free plans above.)

My plan was to use premium pine boards for a clean look but my store was out of them in the size I needed so I had to settle for the regular ol’ whiteboards.  I was somehow able to get some fairly clean boards that were straight.  Score!

There are so many repeated lengths that I set up a stop block on my miter saw.  It takes just a few minutes extra but it makes cutting so much faster and you know that all of your pieces are cut to the same size which makes assembly easier.  To set up a stop block, I took a long piece of scrap wood and marked my desired lengths on it.  I then clamped another piece of scrap on the mark for the length I was cutting.  Line it all up on your miter saw next to the blade and clamp it to your fence (double check your measurement before you cut).

Next is sanding.  There are no pictures for this because I just couldn’t do that to you.  Sanding is painfully boring but so necessary.  I like to sand before I assemble because sometimes it is too difficult to sand in some places afterward.

While there are numerous types of joinery out there and many more arguments about which is better, sometimes you have to go with what is easiest or what is most comfortable to you.  I chose pocket holes on this build.  First, because all the holes would be concealed (which is my number one rule with using pocket holes).  Second, because I received a really cool new pocket hole cutter from Castle as a prize from a giveaway.  This machine has a router built into it that cuts the most perfect holes.  Any pocket hole jig will work for this build, though.

Six pieces for each table need pocket holes.  I cut two pocket holes on each end of the 9 ½” and 6” pieces.  Look at those holes!

Now onto assembly.  Attach the 6” pieces to the 23 ¼” pieces to form the legs using glue and pocket holes screws.  You’ll end up making a box.

On the short ends, find your middle and mark 1 ¼” on each side of it.  This is where your stretchers will go to connect both legs.

Using glue and pocket hole screws, attach the stretchers followed by the second box to complete the table base.

With the bases built, I turned to applying finishes.  I wanted the bases painted at the top stained so it was much easier to do it here.  Using a paint sprayer, I painted both bases black.  If you can afford a paint sprayer and see yourself doing a lot of painting to justify it, I cannot recommend a paint sprayer enough!  You can get a decent hobby paint sprayer for $50 to $75.  It took no time at all to get these painted.

While the paint dried on the bases, I started work on my top.  I wanted a slightly distressed look so I took a framing hammer (it has a patterned head that looks awesome when distressing) and a large set of chains to the boards that made up the top.  You can also use any random took you pickup from a chisel to a screwdriver to a nail.  The possibilities are endless.  After I distressed them, I stained them using Rustoleum True Brown.

Before we proceed, y’all are going to have to excuse the messy background in the next set of pictures.  I’m rarely ever working on just one project at a time and my living room shows that.  So, can we just pretend it all looks neat and clean?  Thanks!  You’re the best!

Attaching the top to the base is super easy.  I put glue on the top of the base and glued the three 14 ½” boards in place.  I used Titebond Translucent Wood glue.  It dries quickly and dries clear.  Clamp the boards in place until the glue has a chance to set up some (15-30 minutes).

The last step of the assembly process is to attach the side pieces.  I applied glue to the sides and secured the pieces with a nail gun and 1 ¼” nails.

Using the poly of your choice, seal the tables.  If these will be used with drinks or placed outside, make sure you choose a compatible poly and put on enough coats to protect the wood.  I used Minwax Fast Drying poly in Semi Glass (it’s my favorite and what I use on most everything).

When all was dry, I decided to add some decorative brackets.  These started out as galvanized corner braces that you can find in the fastener section of your hardware store.  I spray painted them with hammered black paint and (attempted) to seal them with a clear coat to keep the paint from chipping.

I used hex head screws to attach them because I just really liked the look it added.  If you use this kind of screws, you will need a socket style bit for your drill.

When I screwed them in place, they took a bit of my spray paint with them.  I thought about going back to fix it then decided I liked it as is.

And here’s the finished product!


This is easily a one day or one weekend project if you factor in dry time.  It’s kind of a mix between modern and farmhouse/industrial which is all the rage (if you care about that).  If nothing else, it makes a pretty awesome drink holder that’s easy, inexpensive, and quick.  It would be perfect as an outdoor side table as well.  Need something bigger? No problem!  You can easily customize the size.  If you need any help getting the math down, just send me a message or drop a comment below and I’ll help you out.  I kind of dig math.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.