Here’s a simple Ikea hack for a side table or nightstand!
Ikea sells a “Lack Side Table” for only $9.99, but I’ve spotted these on Craigslist and at garage sales for only $5, and I actually found mine on the curb for free.
STEP 1: CUT BOARDS
Decide the size you want your 2×4 boards to be and cut every board the same length. I cut mine to be a few inches longer than the lack table’s top. For a more rustic look, you can scratch, hammer, dent, etc., your boards.
STEP 2: SAND
Sand them well so no one gets slivers when they’re admiring your awesome table. Wipe dust off.
Step 3: ATTACH BOARDS TOGETHER
Now you have a few options…
1. Attach all the planks together with a Kreg Jig (this is what I did)
2. Glue the boards on using Liquid Nails or some other crazy strong glue, then let dry
3. Nail them on using large decorative nails for an even more rustic look
STEP 4: WOOD CONDITIONER
USE A WOOD CONDITIONER! I like Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. This well-loved can has lasted through dozens of projects and there’s still some left. If you don’t use a wood conditioner, the stain will turn out very blotchy. It’s not pretty. Just follow the instructions on the can.
STEP 5: 2 COATS STAIN
Stain the boards. For this project, I used Rustoleum Weathered Gray. There are already a million tutorials on how to do this, maybe a million and three. My favorite way to apply stain is using an old t-shirt or rag to wipe on, wait a few minutes, then wipe off excess.
STEP 6: SCREW TO TABLE BASE
Even if you glued or used nails, you can still do this part to make sure the top is on securely.
If you used Kreg, line up the boards and look at the table while it’s standing up so you can make sure the base is centered, then use a pencil to mark where the base needs to go. Flip the table over and line up the base with your markings. The tabletop is hollow, so it’s kind-of weird to drill through. You’ll need a long enough drill bit to make this work.
I drilled bigger holes just through that top light brown layer, then used the appropriately-sized drill (a little smaller than the screws I used) to drill through the next layer and the boards. Then, to get the screws in where you can’t actually see them you just have to be a bit tricky and work with it until you get them in. I used four screws, one by each leg.
STEP 7: DARK WAX
I’d heard about dark wax, but didn’t want to spend money on it. Then I found out you can make it yourself using regular finishing wax. Learn how to make your own dark wax here. On every project I build I use Minwax Paste Finishing Wax. I don’t like how poly bubbles and tries to ruin all of my projects, so I’m a wax convert.
For this dark wax, I mixed Minwax Dark Walnut (because that’s the stain I had on hand) with the wax that I had put in the microwave for a few seconds, stirred it up and put it in the freezer for about half an hour until it was hardened. This is what it looked like:
The texture was WEIRD. I wasn’t sure this was going to work out the first time I used it, but once you freeze it a bit it ends up being a great consistency. I prefer applying this to just the plain wax because it’s a little less of a solid and easier to spread.
Take a rag or t-shirt piece, dip it in the wax, and spread it all over the tabletop.
STEP 8: DRY BRUSH HEAVILY WITH GRAY
Stop crying. I know it looks worse with the dark wax. It looks like I told you to go outside, grab some mud and rub it all over your beautiful table. We’re not done. If you have gray chalk paint, go get it. If not, make your own as shown here. I like to have basic craft paint colors because I usually end up adjusting my colors to get them to look how I like. For example, the gray paint I had was way too light, so I mixed in some dark gray craft paint and some dark brown to warm it up until the color looked good to me. Remember, paint looks darker when it dries.
Dry brush the top (heavily) with the gray paint. Don’t know how to dry brush? It’s a great thing to learn and has saved MANY of my projects, but it’s a skill that takes a bit of practice. Use a scrap board to try it out first if you’ve never done it before. If you want more brown showing through, you can do less of the gray dry brushing.
STEP 9: DRY BRUSH LIGHTLY WITH WHITE
This is really just a highlighting step, so you’ll use a lot less white than you did gray. Make some white chalk paint. (You may not even need it to be chalk paint…I just use chalk paint on steps 8 and 9 so I don’t have to sand between steps. My life’s goal = sanding the least amount possible when painting). Let it dry and top with more clear wax for an extra layer of protection.
You are done! Use this as a side table, nightstand, or whatever works in your home. This same process can work for a coffee table, sofa table, entry table or console as well.