Indoor. Outdoor. Concrete Tables.

A tutorial by .

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BASIC TOOLS:

Circular Saw
Cordless Drill
Tape Measure
Orbital Sander
Clamps
Caulk
Laminated Plywood & Lumber
Level
(20) 2.5" Deck Screws
(24) 1.5" Masonry Screws
Pencil
1/4" Masonry Bit
(2) Bags Quick Set Concrete
Hammer/Mallet
Rake
Hand Trowel
Tub
Water
Product

Basic Tools

Circular Saw
Cordless Drill
Tape Measure
Orbital Sander
Clamps
Caulk
Plywood & Lumber
Level
(20) 2.5" Deck Screws
(24) 1.5" Masonry Screws
Pencil
3/8" Masonry Bit
(2) Bags Quick Set Concrete
Hammer/Mallet
Rake
Hand Trowel
Tub
Water
15 Maker Tutorials

Mark Won

Maker | Semi Exact Team Member

My goal is to show how a beginner DIYer can easily create high-quality furniture. What I may lack in skill, I make up for with enthusiasm and a can-do attitude! 

I love using recycled/upcycled material to build beautiful furniture fit for any modern home. Officially, I’m a Semi Exact employee, but tinkering and DIY has been a hobby since childhood. Added dream job bonus: pursuing my love of interior design. 

I hope to learn from the many skilled makers out there, and to turn my builds up a notch!

We love the look of cement paired with our raw steel! We decided to build some all-purpose cement nesting tables, designed for indoor and outdoor use (note, for pure outdoor use, we recommend our powder-coated selection to prevent premature oxidation).

We had some decisions to make with the cement. One thought was to create a super polished table, with perfect edging and a sealed top. We decided instead to go for a rustic finish, using post concrete (with pebbles), and leaving it unfinished. 

Bonus here is that this dramatically reduces the difficulty of this build, and also the time involved.

A few things to consider: 

Reinforcement. The tables we built were small, so we decided to not use any internal reinforcement. If you want to create a larger table, or a tabletop that will bear weight, you’ll want to reinforce the concrete. To do so, pour a small first layer of concrete into your form, place rebar or wire mesh, and finish pouring the concrete.

Patience. Be patient while waiting for your concrete to dry. While the bag of our concrete said it would be set within a few hours, we waited overnight to make sure we had as solid of a surface as possible before we took it out of the forms.

Finish your concrete. Surfaces used every day or outdoors should see some sort of treatment. If you want a smooth finish, fill in the holes with concrete filler, and sand to your desired level of smoothness. A concrete sealer coated on top will protect your slab for years to come.

Step 1:
Measure and cut wood for concrete forms

We had some leftover laminated plywood, but standard-grade plywood will work here as well. Start by measuring out the dimensions for your tabletops (we went with 34" x 12" for our larger table, and 24" x 12" for our smaller table). Measure and cut the 1 x 2s for the border/side of the forms.

Step 2:
Start assembling the forms

Once you have all the pieces cut for the form, you can start assembly. We chose #8 x 2.25" deck screws to drill the 1 x 2s into place. We picked this length and width of screw to make sure we’d have enough for the wood to stay together, but also cautious not to crack our form with a screw that was too large.

Step 3:
Clamps are your friend

We recommend using clamps to keep the wood in place while drilling. This will prevent any wobble and uneven drilling.

Step 4:
Test your fit

Some of the wood pieces may need to be sanded a bit for a snug fit. The better job you do with measuring and cutting, the less you will need to adjust.

Step 5:
Drill in your side boards

After double-checking to make sure your clamps are secure, you can drill the side boards into the plywood.

Step 6:
Caulking the edges

While we were going for a rustic finish, we didn’t want it to look unintentional or thrown together. Pay extra attention to the form to make sure you get a perfectly plumb shape. Be sure to take your time with the caulk (so the runnier concrete doesn’t seep into the cracks). The more time you spend here, the less time you’ll spend working on your finish. Slow and steady wins the race!

Step 7:
Smoothing out the caulk

We used a caulk dap cap and, to be honest, our fingers. You want the thinnest possible bead in the seams, while still creating a secure seal. We spent about 10–15 minutes on this step alone. Extra effort here will help create tables with sharper edges (which is what we were going for).

Step 8:
Mix the concrete

We chose a post concrete for the pebbles and quick dry time—be sure that you buy enough concrete for your molds! We used a garden rake and a general-purpose tub and followed the instructions on the concrete (water-to-mix ratio) to get our desired consistency. If you use quick-setting concrete (as we did here), try to move as quickly as possible, because....well, let’s just say this concrete mix is aptly named.

Step 9:
Molding the concrete

Time is of the essence, so keep a steady pace, moving briskly but not rushing. Shovel the concrete somewhat evenly across the forms, spreading the concrete mix with a shovel. Pro Tip: Give the bottom of your molds a lot of small taps (25–50) with a hammer or mallet. This will help any air bubbles escape the concrete and rise to the surface.

Step 10:
Smoothing the concrete

After making sure every nook and cranny is filled, start smoothing the top with a hand trowel. Take your time here! We knew we didn’t want to do much finishing/sanding of the tabletops later, so we took extra time to make sure we had the smoothest lines and edges possible. Pro Tip: Avoid stripped screws - Don't forget to wipe out the concrete in your screws! This will save a lot of time and headache when you disassemble the mold.

Step 11:
Remove concrete tabletops from the form

Time for the big reveal! Unscrew your form, and gently slide the concrete out. If the mold is being stubborn, give the wood some tiny taps with a hammer until itÆs loose enough to pull away.

Step 12:
Wax raw steel legs

We recommend a powder coated finish for any of our products that will see a lot of moisture or live outdoors. We wanted a natural patina to develop over time on our legs, so we opted to use paste wax to protect the steel from overoxidation. Our Clear Coat powder coated finish would’ve also worked nicely here.

Step 13:
Measure, mark, and drill

When drilling into concrete, be sure to use a specialized drill bit (masonry drill bit, in this case). Mark off the proper depth with masking tape on the drill bit to make sure you don’t drill through the top. Measure out your leg placement and mark the holes. Drill pilot holes for your masonry screws. Masonry screws will give you maximum hold while minimizing the risk of damaging/cracking the concrete top.

Step 14:
Enjoy your tables!

A little patience and a lot of elbow grease pays off! Be sure to give yourself a big round of applause for this one.

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