Internal Ramblings - Working with New Materials During Creation of Concrete Bedside Table

This week's project was a test of our abilities.

Background:

The past few projects I have posted consisted of generally the same sort of materials: wood, nails, glue, etc.

Internal Ramblings - Doggy Wheelchair

Internal Ramblings - Creativity and Improvisation Characterize Construction of Cat Tree

Internal Ramblings - Importance of Pre-planning Learned During Creation of "Zipstitch Chair"

That being said, I felt a change was in order. I decided to add a little diversity to this blog by looking up easy concrete projects. I wound up falling in love with the idea of a concrete-topped bedside table. While this isn’t the easiest beginner’s concrete project, I was determined. I found some basic how-to concrete pouring instructions and decided it probably wasn’t as hard as I thought. So I dragged my project partner, Eric, to the hardware store and began the process.

Materials:

  • 80-lb. bag Quikrete 5000
  • Silicone caulk
  • Industrial adhesive
  • 2" x 4" lumber
  • 8 ft. of 4" x 4" lumber
  • 3/8-in. plywood
  • Eight 90° metal brackets
  • 32 1 1/4-in. wood screws
  • Laminated wood form
  • Spray paint

Process:

This was the most expensive project I’ve undertaken so far. Materials cost around $45 total. (That’s a lot for a broke college kid!) But considering the cost of purchasing a ready-made concrete bedside table, this was super cheap. We bought the Quikrete 5000, caulk, adhesive, wood and brackets at Home Depot and the spray paint at Menards.

Our first step was to make the form for the concrete. We were able to find some laminated wood in the shop, which we cut down to size. The dimensions were 16” x 16” x 2”. We screwed the form together using a Ryobi 18v drill. With the form completed, we mixed the concrete in a bucket with a shovel. In retrospect, this was not the most efficient way of mixing concrete but we made do.

This being our first attempt at concrete, there were some complications in the process. It turns out our concrete/water measurements were off by about 3 pints. As we were mixing, we saw that the concrete looked weird, but what did we know? So we poured it into the form anyway. Luckily, my neighbor came over before we did too much damage and advised us to add more water. A lot more water. So we poured the water straight into the poured concrete and mixed it with a concrete trowel. To our great relief, the mixture finally started to look less like gravel and more like concrete. We let this sit for two days.

While waiting for the concrete to dry, we built the wooden bottom of the table. We cut four 2-ft. legs out of the 8 ft. of 4" x 4" and four pieces out of the 2" x 4" using a DeWalt miter saw. We then connected the four smaller pieces to the legs using the metal brackets and the wood screws. The plywood was attached to the foot of the legs to create a square and level table. After the concrete slab had dried thoroughly, we removed it from the form and secured it to the wood base using the industrial adhesive. Voila, concrete bedside table!

Because we had to buy an 80-lb. bag of cement for this project and only needed about 30 lbs. for the table top, we decided to take on another simple project. This was another fun creation found on homemade-modern.com called “Concrete Lamp.”

The lamp is basically a semi-hollow block of concrete with holes drilled into it to let out light. We made this by securing a water bottle inside of an empty milk/juice carton using a metal dowel. We then poured the concrete straight into this make-shift form and waited for it to dry.

The hardest part was removing the water bottle from the hardened concrete. This took a lot of brute force and patience. We then used the Ryobi 18V drill and concrete drill pieces to randomly drill the holes into the block. Inserting the light fixture proved the trickiest part. We had to cut the wires of the lamp switch and string it through one of the drilled holes before soldering it back together.

Result:

For our first time using concrete, this project turned out remarkably well. I even added a few personal touches, such as inserting a piece of plywood painted with chalkboard paint in the center of the concrete table for writing secret messages. Overall, I’m very happy with the way this project turned out and I think these cool, modern pieces will liven up my room’s aesthetic. I say concrete rocks! (Ha, get it?)

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