How to Make an Ironing Table
One of the things that Simone has always wanted to improve is her ironing board. We started out with one of the nicer ironing boards that money can buy at Target (or Walmart, I forget). The problem with this was that Simone wanted a wider surface to iron on. This gave birth to her first custom ironing board, which was a 24" x 24" piece of MDF that we stapled a piece of batting to, then covered in duck cloth.
I was disappointed that ducks were in no way involved in this cloth. This is so misleading.
This was better for a time, but it still left a lot to be desired. Simone just set this on top of the retail store ironing board and used it that way. She told me that she would love a huge ironing surface. So I hit the internet and found this table from Ana White that I could easily modify to fit the bill.
(Note: The link to the actual build plans from this page seems to be broken. I had to dig into the Internet Archive to find what I needed.)
I decided to modify this cart in a few ways. First, the top needed to be the ironing surface, not another shelf. This caused me to modify the dimensions of the entire cart. The reason for this is that I was able to buy a sheet of MDF that was 24" x 48", and I didn't want the shelves to be larger than that.
Second, the cart was a bit too tall. I wanted it to end up around 33" tall because that was how tall Simone's previous ironing surface was. So I shortened the whole thing to account for the casters and ironing surface.
Finally, I wanted to use 3" casters because this thing is on carpet, and larger casters move more easily. I decided to use the same locking casters I use on everything in my wood shop.
Here is the updated shopping list:
6 - 1x3 at 6' long
3 - 2x4 at 8' long
1 - 4'x4' piece of 3/4" plywood (I got oak)
1 - 2'x4' piece of 3/4" MDF
18 - 2" self tapping deck screws (I believe this is how many)
16 - Washers to prevent the lath screws from dropping through the holes on the casters
1-1/4" Finish Nails
Finishing materials (I'll go over my personal choices later in the article)
And here is the cut list:
4 - 2x4 @ 27 1/4"
6 - 2x4 @ 17 1/4"
4 - 1x3 @ 15 3/4"
4 - 1x3 @ 48"
2 - 3/4 ply @ 46 1/2" x 15 3/4"
I used my miter saw to make the cuts on the 2x4s and 1x3s. My miter saw lives on a big miter table with and extended fence. This lets me set a stop block to make repeated cuts very easily.
Using this, I was able to knock out all of the cuts on the 2x4s and 1x3s in no time. The big box around my miter saw is for dust collection, and that part needs some work. You can't see it in the above photo, but there is a dust port behind the miter saw that connects to my Clearvue Cyclone system. Dust still gets stuck in the corners.
Next, I cut out the plywood pieces on the table saw.
This part is kinda difficult since the piece of plywood is so large. If you can make this cut with a circular saw or track saw instead, that would be much simpler. Luckily, my table saw is pretty huge.
Before you assemble, it is nice to do the sanding at this stage because then you don't have to work around corners and tough spots. Don't sand the plywood too much (probably one pass at 220 grit), and you don't have to do anything to the MDF. So it is pretty much just the 2x4 and 1x3 pieces. I do 80 grit, then 150, then 220. This will make it super smooth.
Now it is time for assembly. This thing goes together pretty quick and easy. Start by building the leg pieces. Use the 2 1/4" screws for this part. If you made the cuts square, then these should end up being square (as you can see, I still checked). And since the screws are self-tapping, you don't need to pre-drill the holes. Don't be too alarmed if the wood splits a bit. It is no big deal if that happens.
Build both frames like that, and they come out like this:
Next up, build the two shelves. This is super easy. Apply some wood glue to the edges of the plywood pieces and use the finish nails (and a finish nail gun) to secure it in place so the glue can dry. Do the short side pieces first because they match up to the width of the plywood pieces.
Then do the long sides.
Then you end up with two of these:
Now attach the shelves to the leg pieces. Use the 2" deck screws to do this. You don't have to pre-drill these either. I used 3 per leg. I lined the legs up so they were 4 inches from the ends of the shelves.
Now we are on to the finishing stage! This part takes the longest, but spend a little time here and this thing will look very nice.
First, wipe the whole thing down with mineral spirits. We want to remove the dust before we apply any stain.
SAFETY NOTE: Whenever you put combustible liquids like mineral spirits, stain, or polyurethane on a rag, always drape that rag over a garbage can or something to allow the rag to dry before throwing it away. These are exothermic materials, which means that they release heat as they dry. If the rags are balled up, they can catch fire. Always dispose of them safely!
Next, if you are using stain, apply a pre-stain at this time. Follow the directions on the can for the best results. I did one coat of pre-stain and one coat of stain.
After applying these, the grain will be raised on the wood. Use 400 grit sandpaper and lightly sand it smooth again. Always wipe with mineral spirits after sanding, and allow it to dry before applying the next coat.
Finally, we need a clear coat to lock in the stain and to protect the finish of the wood. I usually use General Finishes Arm-R-Seal, but for this build I stuck with the Minwax brand and used clear gloss wipe-on poly.
I did 3 coats to make sure the stain was well covered. I sanded lightly with 400 grit between each coat and wiped it off with mineral spirits. After the final coat is dry, you will want to do one final sanding with 1000 grit to make the finish buttery smooth.
The next step is to make the top. To make sure that the fabric wasn't being stretched across a sharp edge, I used a 1/8" roundover bit in the trim router to smooth all of the corners. I did just use sandpaper on the corners because those are too small for the router.
Just like the old ironing board we made, we used a layer of batting and duck cloth for the top. Simone picked a pattern that made her happy.
She cut the pieces so that they would overlap enough for us to pull it tight and staple it in place using the staple gun.
Simone trimmed off the excess after it was secured all the way around. Then we repeated the process for the duck cloth.
Finally, use the 2" screws to attach this to the base from the bottom. The 2x4 is actually 1-1/2" thick, and the MDF is 3/4" thick, so as long as you don't drive the screws deep into the 2x4, then they won't go through the MDF.
Almost done! The last step is to attach the casters to the bottom. Since the whole thing is upside down at this point, now is the time. This time I did pre-drill holes since the lath screws are not the same as the self-tapping ones. I marked the locations of all the screws and drilled them all at the same time. Then I used the driver to screw all of the casters in place.
Be careful not to drill right where the deck screws go through the leg sections. Not that I would know, because I definitely didn't do that. The extra holes and pencil marks you see in the above photo were probably just there from before, and not because I didn't think about my drill locations. :/
Flip the thing over, and you've got a gigantic ironing table with tons of storage!
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to shoot us an email or leave a comment below. I hope this helps you build the ironing table of your dreams!