Make: Projects – Hollow-core door table

Furniture & Lighting
Make: Projects – Hollow-core door table

Thing about old folding tables is, the tops (which are usually made of cheap particle board) tend to wear out much faster than the legs (which are usually made of steel). So the world is full of old folding tables with mutilated tops and perfectly serviceable legs. If you know where to look, good-looking hollow-core doors can be had for a song, and make for great replacement tabletops for those old folding legs if you know how to mount them correctly. Here’s how I did it, using XRS Molly bolts with expanding adhesive foam blown in for reinforcement.


10 thoughts on “Make: Projects – Hollow-core door table

  1. whiskeywaters says:

    My only mod to this project would be to find salvaged solid wood doors. Lots of municipal buildings get those (Think the school doors), and some municipalities have salvage programs (here in Houston it’s Houston ReUse)

    1. Sean Michael Ragan says:

      The tutorial itself recommends using salvaged doors; although it may not look like it, the door I used is in fact a “second” from my local Lowe’s that they sold me for $5 because it has a bunch of scratches on one side.

      And, as I should’ve said, if you can lay hands on a solid wood door at a reasonable price, they are by all means preferable. The resulting table will be very heavy, but it’s probably worth the vastly enhanced durability of a solid wood surface. When I looked around the usual salvage outlets in Austin, however, all the reclaimed solid wood doors that had at least one side suitable for use as a work surface were relatively pricey–$40 or $50. My assumption going in was that a solid wood door was not a practical choice, but of course, if you can find one, by all means use it. And there’s no need for any fancy tricks to attach the legs to it either–just drill and use normal wood screws.

      1. Tim says:

        I would say that solid core doors are a requirement for this. There’s practically nothing in a hollow door for a screw to grip, so the legs will get wobbly fast and it will eventually collapse. This happened to us at Pumping Station: One during an event, a table of food collapsed. :'(

        If you really want to use a hollow door, glue some slabs of plywood to it and screw the legs into that.

        1. Sean Michael Ragan says:

          …that solid core doors are a requirement for mounting legs. You are right, there is nothing in a hollow core door for a screw to grip, which is why I didn’t use screws, but Molly bolts. The leg mounting doesn’t depend on threads biting into any part of the door itself, but on mating machine threads between the Molly bolts and their sleeves. The sleeves are anchored to the door by their expanded flanges and the blown-in foam, and the bolts thread into the sleeves. It’s certainly not as tough as wood screws in a solid door, but it’s a heckuva lot tougher than wood screws, alone, in a hollow core door.

  2. says:

    If you are setting anything with cables on it, one with a doorknob hole works better, especially if you hang a dishrack under it to hold said cables.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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