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A Complete Novice Builds a Table


MD_Ag
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Like so many before me, I wanted to upgrade my kamado setup with more workspace and a more aesthetically pleasing look than the standard metal cradle. I also hadn't built anything from wood by myself since 8th grade wood shop. But with some encouragement from friends who didn't deserve to be dragged into another project, those magic words fluttered through my head: "How hard could it be?"  My hope is that this little adventure inspires others, and the mostly step by step pictures help those like me who have no idea how the professionals get from A to B.

 

I started by drawing up some plans, looking at stuff online, redrawing plans, taking a month off, one more drawing, etc.  Finally I hit the lumber yard last year, near the peak of prices. All pressure treated, so I let it sit in my garage for a few weeks to dry out, which turned into a year.

 

Materials:

4x4x8 - 2 (these are the legs)

1x6x8 - 6 (surface planks; I have 4 extra in the garage, no clue why, other than the "final" plans were lost)

2x4x8 - 6 (get 7 instead in case you want extra or different cross supports)

~1 lb of 3.5" exterior screws (used them all)

~1 lb of 2.5" exterior screws (used most)

 

As a novice, I am a poor craftsman who will blame my tools, specifically my lack of them. I used a circular saw for all cuts. Wood is forgiving, but I was asking a lot of it.  The fact that this thing ended up level and (mostly) square amazes me.  I started by assembling the two sides, using 8 pieces of 2x4 (28.5" long) to connect the 4x4 pieces (33"). All connections between the framing pieces used the 3.5" screws.

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Lugging the materials up to the deck, I used longer 2x4 pieces (60") to connect the two sets of legs. A set of clamps I had just bought really came in handy here.

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I then used more of the shorter 2x4 to reinforce the frame. My goal on the bottom was to leave a gap for ash retrieval into a bucket. A quick test of bouncing on top of the supports gave me confidence that it would hold. Up top, make sure there is enough room for the grill hole (at least 24", but check your specific grill dimensions).

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Next I was on to adding on the decking. The 2.5" screws were used here. The planks were cut to 62", though I'd recommend bumping that up to 65" or so if anyone is foolish enough to follow this. As it is, the planks were placed flush on the left side and have a short overhang on the right. The remaining cuts from the original six boards were used to make a solid base to spread out the weight on the left, as well as some shelf space on the right. These were all screwed in first, then the excess board length cut off.

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For the grill hole I tried the time honored "screw + string + pencil". This failed (sort of), as a later measurement showed I had cut a ~22" hole instead of 24", but it all worked out. Cuts were made after borrowing a hole-drill attachment thing and a jig saw from a friend.

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Lots of stain/sealer was applied, mostly to the table.

 

Casters were the trickiest part, as the higher quality, higher weight ones tend to have holes way too close to the edges of a 4x4. Eventually I found swivel casters with brakes rated at 125 lbs. each. Installed them with lag screws (remember a plastic barrier between different metal types to slow down oxidation!), then did another bounce test to make sure all the weight could be held. With the caster height, the 4x4 legs probably should have been only 30".

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For fire prevention, I went belt and suspenders. A paving slab (16") was used to prevent direct radiant heat going from the grill bottom to the wood. A few bricks were placed on the slab to allow air flow. The padding on top was taken from the original Vision grill cart. With the extra height, the grill still has clearance in the smaller than planned hole.  

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I'd still like to cut a hole top and bottom to insert a nice umbrella for shade and rain, but that can be done later.

 

Finally, I disassembled the grill, dropped a whole bunch of washers, and practically burned my hand trying to get everything back together under the blazing sun.

 

Worth it.

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I love it! As a fellow novice who also often wonders “how hard can it be”, I have to admire your willingness to actual do it. Nice job and enjoy your new cooking space!

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Slight disaster with the first use: the hinge is not properly aligned, so the back of the dome is getting lifted up, allowing way too much air flow. Normally that vent setting gets me about 275, but I was pushing 400 when I noticed way too much smoke through the kitchen window. Ribs were pulled off before too much charring occurred to finish in the oven.

 

I had a similar issue on first assembly that I fixed by loosening the band and letting the dome drop into alignment. That's not happening this time. I'm afraid something was either bent or assembled incorrectly. Looking at the Vision subforum I see a similar issue posted, but unfortunately no one responded with the required picture. If anyone has a Vision that could upload a picture of the hinge, I'd appreciate it.

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MD very nice looking table hope you get the hinge figured out. Amazing what we can do once we put our minds to it. Did you remember anything that helped from your 8th grade wood shop? "How hard can it be" is one step below "Here hold my beer and watch this"

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On 7/21/2022 at 12:17 PM, len440 said:

MD very nice looking table hope you get the hinge figured out. Amazing what we can do once we put our minds to it. Did you remember anything that helped from your 8th grade wood shop? "How hard can it be" is one step below "Here hold my beer and watch this"

I'd say it's a step up from "Hold my beer", but I suppose that depends on perspective. The hinge is still messed up; I think the bolts might have gotten bent when I took it all apart. 

 

As far as lessons learned, just accept the imperfections. I don't have the years of experience, so I'm not going to expect everything being "just so".

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  • 1 month later...

Finally got it working again. Got myself a new set of ratchet sockets of proper units which were able to properly tighten the nuts on the bottom half, preventing the spring from popping up. Celebrated with some chicken, onions, peppers, corn, and asparagus.

 

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