How to Dress Up a Side Table with Dowels

Dress up a plain side table with this clever embellishment. Gather dowels of different diameters, then cut, glue, done! Here's how.

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Special thanks to: FLOR; Lowe’s; Pier 1 Imports; York Wallcoverings

Looking for an easy weekend project? Update a basic side table with natural wood dowels. Simply cut different thicknesses of dowels to the same length to create a custom tabletop design. 

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What You Need

  • Dowels (ranging in diameter from 1/2 inch to 2 inches)
  • Dowel segments (3/4-inch-diameter)
  • Saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood glue
  • Pin nailer
  • Clear acrylic sealer 

Step 1: Attach Dowels to Table Edge

Using wood glue and a pin nailer, attach 3/4-inch-diameter dowel segments around the sides of the tabletop to make a raised border. (Add 1/2 inch to the thickness of the tabletop to determine the length of the dowel segments.)

Creative Things to Do With Dowels

Step 2: Cut Rounds For Tabletop

 Cut 1/2-inch slices from dowels ranging in diameter from 1/2 inch to 2 inches; sand rough edges as needed. 

Step 3: Arrange and Glue Rounds

Starting with the largest dowels first and filling in gaps with smaller ones, arrange the slices on the tabletop like a puzzle and adhere them with wood glue. Use heavy books or wood blocks to hold the dowels in place while the glue dries. 

Step 4: Sand and Seal

Sand the top to ensure a level surface, and spray with a coat of clear acrylic sealer. Check out our guide to paint primers and sealers. For extra protection, place a piece of beveled glass on top of the tabletop design.

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