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Here is a unique, colored cement side table that can be made in a few hours and has removable legs so you can switch leg styles with ease.
In case you wanted to know, the legs for this cement side table are modified Waddell brand tapered legs. The tutorial for my modifications is here: A Chic Makeover for Waddell Brand Mid-Century Modern Tapered Furniture Legs.
I have been on Pinterest more lately. One of my most popular boards is My Favorite Concrete (and Cement) Furniture and Decor Tutorials. I recently pinned a photo of two cardboard boxes covered with duct tape that were used as the inner and outer molds for a planter box. This photo got many saves and likes, and was confirmation of what I was thinking. Most people, myself included, don’t want to buy melamine board ($$$) and construct a box mold for making a simple concrete planter. Ditto with building molds for other concrete furniture, decor, and garden accessories. I would have to be very motivated to do that, and right now, I’m not. Using cardboard boxes as molds seems about my speed.
I have recently been making a lot of cement decor, and having a lot of fun doing it. I got started in my cast cement sofa leg project. I started experimenting with leftover cement from batches after casting the legs, making little hand-formed plates and bowls. Later, wanting to add color to decor, I tried using latex paint to make it colorful. Now, with some experience with coloring cement and my desire to make uncomplicated interesting furniture, I came up with this side table which is simple to make using a plant saucer or other similar plastic container for a mold. The leg mounting hardware is cast in the cement, and the furniture legs are simply screwed on. I am all about being able to change my mind–this is why I didn’t want to cast the legs in place in the cement.
I used several techniques for mixing the cement in three previous colored cement projects: Using Latex Paint To Tint DIY Cement Decor, Create Ambience with Colorful DIY Cement Candle Holders, and Gifts to My Sisters. I’ll show you how I mixed the cement for this project, but you might want to look at these previous posts for additional information in mixing techniques you could try for different effects for your side table. Of course you don’t need to add paint colorant at all if you don’t want to.
PREPARING THE SIDE TABLE MOLD
Tools/Supplies for Preparing Side Table Mold:
- Plastic container to use as a mold (This is what I used, a clear plastic plant saucer.)
- Waddell brand top plates (or a similar brand), angled or straight (3 or 4 depending on how many legs you want)
- glue/contact adhesive
- tape, marker, level
First, choose a plastic mold that is the shape and size that you want and has sufficient support on the bottom. I used a 12 inch diameter plant saucer that I bought at Menards for less than $1. I recommend that your mold be at least 2 inches deep so that your table is not too thin and prone to breaking. My mold was 3 1⁄2 inches deep, and I didn’t feel the need for steel wire reinforcement, but depending on the shape, size, and depth of your mold, you may want to add steel mesh. This is what I would use if I needed to add it to my table: welded wire mesh.
The next task is positioning and attaching the top plates to the bottom of the mold.
To help me figure out where I wanted the legs, I did a trial run with carpet tape, affixing them temporarily. I used four legs for added stability, but you could do three legs.
After I determined the approximate place for the top plates, I made a paper square and lined up the top plates on each corner. You don’t need to do this, but I found it helpful. (Make an equilateral triangle guide if you have three legs.)
Without moving the top plates, I drew lines around them so I could pick them up, apply contact adhesive to the bottom, and then glue them back in the right place. I used contact adhesive, but other types of glue would work, too.
The next thing to do is drill holes in the plastic through the four holes of each top plate. Drill from the inside of the mold.
After this, I glued the screws in place using a bit of contact adhesive. Place a dab of glue on each screw hole, then just push the screw into the hole in the top plate.
Be sure to set the screws so that they stick into the inside of the mold.
You are now ready to set the mold up to put cement in. Screw your legs into the top plates, and set the mold (with legs attached) where you are going to be adding the cement. I set mine outside on the back stoop. Be sure the ground/surface that you are working on is level. The next step is very important. The legs have a little “give” because the plastic is not completely rigid, so you need to get the legs positioned exactly how you want them before you start adding cement to the mold. I positioned them by eye, then measured and did fine-tuning until I had the same distance between all the legs. After you are done with this step, don’t move the legs (except to level, see below) until after you add the cement, and it has cured.
Another very important step is to make sure the mold is level. If it isn’t, check that the ground/surface the mold is on is level. You can add a shim under a leg to level, if needed.
CASTING THE CEMENT TABLE TOP
I just want to mention that I recommend using anchoring cement (e.g. Quikrete anchoring cement, Cement All, or another anchoring cement) rather than concrete for this type of side table. Anchoring cement expands as it cures and is designed to hold bolts and other objects in place. Concrete contracts slightly as it cures and won’t be as effective in holding, in this case, the screws in place. Anchoring cement is more expensive than concrete, but for this side table I used only about $12 of cement (about 16 lbs).
Supplies for Casting Cement in Side Table Mold:
- container to use as mold
- measuring cups
- dust mask
- protective gloves
- mixing bowl
- Quikcrete anchoring cement, Cement All. or a similar anchoring cement
- latex paint, optional (for instance, most interior wall paint)
- spray oil
- sandpaper (optional)
- kitchen knife, exacto knife, or Dremel
About the Paint
Paint colorant is optional. You could leave the cement plain, or add pigmented colorants instead of paint. If you want to use paint, the type of paint to use for coloring cement (and concrete) is latex paint. Most interior wall paints are this type of paint. Leftover paint and sample-size jars are ideal for this project. I used several brands (Behr, Pittsburgh Paints, Glidden) and didn’t notice any difference as to brand. The paint tints the cement when added in the mixing process, giving a muted version of the color.
Mixing the Cement
Cement with Latex Paint Recipe
Use the following general proportions per batch:
8 parts Quikrete anchoring cement or Cement All (dry) by volume
1 part water
1/2 to 1 part latex paint
I used an 8 oz plastic disposable cup to measure the anchoring cement. If you want to make a larger cement batch of cement, you can use the proportions given in the recipe to scale up the batch size.
First add paint to the mixing bowl, 1⁄2 to 1 oz paint (by volume), then add 8 oz (by volume) of anchoring cement to the bowl.
Next add 1 oz water to the anchoring cement and paint in the mixing bowl. Mix and adjust with water to a pourable consistency, like a pourable pudding. If you are not adding paint to the batch, you can add more water. For this project, I often made bigger batches, for instance 16 oz (by volume) anchoring cement, 2 oz paint, and 2 oz water.
A variation I used in some batches for this side table entailed mixing a pourable cement batch thoroughly (with or without latex paint). After thorough mixing, I put a bit of paint into the mixing bowl on top of the cement and swirled the paint on the surface using my finger.
I left the paint barely mixed in and poured the batch into the mold. The resulting cement has a streaked/mottled look.
In the case of this side table, part of the mold gets left in place and part gets removed.
Turn the cement cast over so the underside is up. Take a kitchen knife, exacto knife, or Dremel rotary tool and cut off the plastic that would be visible if you left it on. In my case, I cut the plastic around the outer edge on the bottom of the cast, as shown below. I left the plastic in the center, but you can’t see it unless you look underneath the side table.
You can sand the edges a bit if there is rough cement.
Done! Here are a few more photos.
I really hope you all enjoyed this project and are inspired to make your own side tables! Until we meet again….