engineer + builder + leader

When I moved to San Francisco, I left my old table behind, since there wasn’t enough space in the new apartment. Still, it was nice to have extra table space when required, so I decided to build out a hanging table that doubled as a large piece of wall art.

First, my wife and I primed the whole thing with white primer. Once that had dried, we laid out a grid on the top of the table, and sketched out what we wanted. We thought it would be fun to paint some sort of ocean scene, so we ended up sketching out a big crashing wave in pencil.

Painting on a table is actually a lot of fun, because the canvas is at just the right height. We got out our green, blue, black, and white acrylics, some cardboard for mixing on, and a bunch of old brushes of all different types. You don’t really want to use expensive paints for this project - a table is a big surface to cover, and you want to get pretty messy. Because we were painting water, what worked for us was to just keep painting over top of the drying underlayers, allowing us to mix everything together. We started with both foam and bristle brushes, and eventually also brought fingers and hands into the mix, along with some sponges for sea spray. The boat in the center wasn’t originally planned, but it gives the painting a bit of a foreboding air. All in all, it only took us about 45 minutes to paint the entire top of the table, as we didn’t want to let anything dry too much. After we were sure the top had dried, we taped it up and painted the sides and legs black.

Next, we wanted to give it a more finished look, as well as protect it when it was in use as a table. We covered it with a plate of ¼” clear plexiglass, which is relatively inexpensive and easy to work with. Fortunately, we live near a plastic store that will cut large sheets of plastic to size. If you don’t happen to live near a store that sells sheets of plexiglass, you can usually find something at a big box store, or you could use glass instead.

One thing we had considered was setting the plexiglass above the table about 1” with metal standoffs, but we decided against it because we wanted the profile when it was hung up to be pretty small. If you do decide to do this, you should either use glass, or something like ⅜” or ½” plexiglass. Instead, we used elevator bolts, which have a really pleasing shape to them. We took the legs off of the table, clamped the plexiglass sheet to the top of the table and then drilled both the plexiglass and the table top on a drill press. You could easily use a handheld drill for this, but I don’t trust myself to drill a vertical hole.

Finally, we bolted the plexiglass onto the table with the elevator bolts and some washers and nuts, and then reassembled the whole thing.

For hanging on the wall, we cut a piece of wood that fit nicely between the lip of the table and the folded up leg. We screwed this into two studs in the wall (if your table is pretty heavy like ours, you’ll want to make sure that you use heavy duty drywall anchors or just get it into some studs). The table apron is deep enough that it sits very securely on the wood fixture.

We also made and attached some straps with snap buttons to keep the legs from folding out while moving it or taking it on and off the wall.

So, how does it work? It’s really nice to see it on our wall, and it still functions well as a table. The plexiglass is pretty resilient and doesn’t get too scratched up, and it protects the art underneath nicely from food and spills.