This is my absolute favorite project to date, probably because I had to figure all this stuff out as I went along and because, against all odds, it turned out the way I wanted. All I knew when I started was that I wanted a houndstooth table for my entryway. I have no rational explanation for this. I got it into my head and couldn’t get it out until I’d made it a reality. I may have a problem.
First off, I was lucky enough to find a table that was exactly the shape I wanted – simple in construction, with vaguely Queen Anne legs, just the right depth and height for an entryway table – that my mom’s friend was selling to clear out her garage. It was in great condition and only $40.
The only real hindrance with the table was the little nubs of wood on the top that lined up with each of the legs – those would interfere with my grand design. I took my little jabsaw (currently my favorite seemingly-violent tool name), laid it flat against the table top and sawed each one of these things off. It didn’t have to be pretty; it just had to be flat. Then I filled all the little pock-marks manufacturers add to make furniture look rustic with wood filler. After that dried, I sanded the whole thing then spray painted it with Krylon Smoke Gray.
Now, to the houndstoothing! I had to find a material I could cut fairly precisely and that would be thin enough so it wouldn’t sit way above the top of the table. I decided on basswood, which most craft stores sell in long narrow sheets and comes in different thicknesses. I went with one package of these 1/16″ thick boards (pricey, but if you sign up for Joann’s coupons, there’s almost always a “40% off one item” one going). I cut half of the boards into 4″x4″ squares, and the other half into the same size squares, which I cut again diagonally into 4 strips. That probably doesn’t make sense, so here, I drew you a diagram!
I used a ruler and pencil to mark my cut lines, then used a utility knife to cut. Half of the squares and half of the strips (one corner and one trapezoid from each square) were painted with the same Krylon Smoke Gray as the table. The other half I painted with the light gray paint I have on my living room walls.
Now for assembly! At first, I had this whole elaborate plan to number the pieces I cut and painted so that I would be able to rematch the cuts exactly. The paint warped the basswood slightly, and keeping track of the numbers was a pain in the butt, so I gave up on that plan pretty quickly. The pieces don’t match precisely, but the mismatches are minimal. So, starting at the back side of the table, I put down a dark gray square, lining one edge up with the edge of the table top and the bottom left corner with the left edge. Then a dark triangle, light trapezoid, dark trapezoid, light triangle, then a dark square, repeated until I reached the right edge of the table without overlapping the edge. For the next row, I started with a light square under the first triangle/trapezoid group and reversed the pattern again until I reached the right hand side.
Sound tedious? It is! Each piece was glued down with E6000, so it was fumey too. But I turned on Parks and Recreation and binge-watched nearly the entire series while I worked on this table, so that was fun. And I could pretend to be a less mustachioed Ron Swanson while I cut my basswood. I’ve discovered that having something entertaining but not engrossing on in the background is imperative for these types of projects. Do not try to watch The Wire while doing something else. It just won’t work.
After all the “whole” pieces were glued down, I went back and filled in the curved edges. I placed whatever colors and pieces made sense for the pattern at the edge, sketched the curve of the table top then cut the piece, checked it and glued it down. Not the epitome of precision, but it worked. After everything was glued down and the glue had a day to cure, I put a couple of coats of Polycrylic on the top.
Ta da! It’s not a table top that would stand up to heavy use, like in a dining room, but for an entryway or accent table, it’s perfect and fun and completely my own.