For a really long time now, I have been obsessed with the IKEA MALM Occasional Table. I think it's absolutely genius for using over the bed, and it's also almost the perfect size to use as one of those behind-the-couch tables. But the $129 price tag? Outrageous. Especially since it still needs to be assembled once purchased, like 99% of IKEA items.
Being a DIY guru, I decided that I would make my own, for a whopping $40. It couldn't be that hard, right? Actually, right.
In all reality, it was so easy! And the awesome thing about mine compared to the one from IKEA is that mine is solid wood, not particle board.
So I'm here to show you how you too can save about $100 dollars and make your own MALM Occasional Table!
Step 1 - Measure the size of your bed/sofa
If you are going to build your table to go over the sides of your bed, you will need to measure the width of your bed to make sure that you make the table larger so that it will fit over comfortably. Make sure that you also measure the height of your bed. You will want your table to be at least 6" higher than the highest point of your bed, which will either be the footboard or the mattress. Then, sitting in your bed, you should measure how far off the ground it would be for you, and anyone else that you share a bed with, to sit comfortably with a table over your lap. If that height is more than the height of your bed plus 6", then use that height as the basis for your table, otherwise, don't add any additional height.
If you are making this table for the back of your sofa, measure the height of your sofa, and then subtract anywhere from 1-6", depending on your personal preference of how high you want the table to be.
Step 2 - Buy your materials
With your measurements in hand, take a trip to your local hardware store and gather your materials. You will need the following:
Wood - $15
L-Brackets (4) - $10 for 4
Rigid Casters (4) - $12 for 4
Wood Screws - $6.50/box of 50
Sandpaper - $3.50
Wood: I used White Fir, and bought a 2"x12"x12', which I had cut to the sizes that I needed at Lowe's. Lowe's and Home Depot have the capability of cutting the wood to size for you, granted that their saw is in working order, so you should take advantage of this if you don't have a way to transport a 12' board, or if you don't own a saw.
You may not need or want to use White Fir, but this is the only type of wood that was available in the size that I wanted. My wood is untreated, which is important if you plan on staining or painting your table.
L-Brackets: I bought four 4" L-Brackets from the hardware aisle. You can use any size bracket that you want, but the larger ones are typically stronger and help with sturdiness, especially on a project like this.
Rigid Casters: If you are making this table for your bed, you will want to purchase 4 rigid casters, which are the ones that are bi-directional. These will allow the table to slide back and forth over your bed in a straight line and not sideways, versus trying to direct the table with swivel casters, which would allow the table to go in all directions while trying to use it.
Wood Screws: I bought a box of #12 1.5" wood screws to attach the L-Brackets and the Casters to the wood pieces. To save money, I made sure that the head of the screw fit into both the brackets and the casters, that way I didn't have to buy two different size screws. A box of screws usually contains 50 screws, which is more than enough for this project, since this will require 32 screws - 4 on each caster, and 4 on each bracket.
Sandpaper: You will need a medium-grit sandpaper to remove any splintering pieces of wood from your boards. If you already have a rough-grit or fine-grit sandpaper on hand, you can probably save some money by not purchasing a medium-grit sandpaper, although you may need to sand a little harder or softer based on what type of grit you have.
Step 3 - Sand down your boards
Using your sandpaper, sand down all of the sides of the boards, including the ends. Make sure that when sanding, you go in the direction of the grain of the wood. Going against the grain of the wood will result in scratches that will show through stain and thin layers of paint.
When you have finished sanding, wipe off your boards with a dry cloth, then vacuum or brush the rest of the dust off using a shop-vac or small hand brush. This step is extremely important if you will be staining or painting your boards, since you will not want any small pieces of dust ruining the finish on your table.
Step 4 - Prime, paint, and protect your boards
This step is optional, but it will really help your table last longer and be protected from sweating cups, food spills, and anything else that can possibly ruin raw wood. For me, I used a sample can of paint that I bought a few weeks ago for the small bedroom on the first floor, which will be my craft room. I put two coats of primer on the wood first, let that dry, then I followed that up with two coats of Sherwin-Williams Summit Gray paint.
Once the paint dries, you are ready to add an optional protective coat onto the boards. I decided to use a spray-polyurethane to protect the paint on the boards, that way wet cups and spills wouldn't ruin the wood and would make clean up so much easier. I actually waited overnight to start the polyurethane since I started the project after work one day, but if you start this project early enough in the day, you could actually just wait a few hours for the paint to completely dry before moving on. If you choose to use polyurethane, follow the directions on the packaging to allow for enough drying time between coats.
Step 5 - Mark, drill, and attach your L-Brackets
Once you have finished priming, painting, and the optional step of protecting your boards, it is time to attach your hardware.
On your leg boards, measure how far inside you want your L-Brackets to be, and using a pencil, mark inside the screw holes so you know where to drill your pilot holes. I attached my L-Brackets 2" from the long sides of the boards, and made sure that the bend in the bracket was flush with the short side of the board.
Once you have the holes marked on both the leg boards, use a drill bit that is smaller than the size of the wood screws that you bought and drill pilot holes where you marked the screw holes with the pencil. This step is important because not only will it help make sure that your screws go into the exact location that you want them to go, but it will also help them go in easier. Once your pilot holes are drilled, screw the L-Brackets into the leg boards using your wood screws.
Next, line up your short boards on the end of your long board, making sure that both boards meet perfectly, creating a 90 degree angle. Using a pencil, mark where the L-Bracket screw holes are, then using your drill, drill in your pilot holes.
Step 6 - Attach your Casters
On the bottom of your leg boards, measure how far inside you want your casters to be, and using a pencil, mark inside the screw holes so you know where to drill your pilot holes.
I attached my Casters 1/2" from the edge of the short side of the board, giving the legs the most stability. Once you have all the holes marked on both the leg boards, use a drill bit that is smaller than the size of the wood screws that you bought and drill pilot holes where you marked the screw holes with the pencil. This step is important because not only will it help make sure that your screws go into the exact location that you want them to go, but it will also help them go in easier. Once your pilot holes are drilled, screw the Casters into the leg boards using your wood screws.
Step 7 - Assemble your table
Depending on where you will be using your table, it may be easier to attach the top of the table to the legs once you have it in the space it will be in. For me, this was the case not only because I was working by myself and without someone else to help me transport it, but because our bedroom is upstairs via an L-shaped staircase, which would have made it annoying to try to transport assembled.
When you are ready to assemble the table, lay the table top on the floor, with the pilot holes facing upward. Line your table legs up with the edge of the table top, and line up the pilot holes with the holes in the L-Bracket. Attach your table legs to the table top using the wood screws.
Once you have the legs and top attached, you are ready to use your table! Flip it over onto the casters, or onto the bottom of the legs if you chose to forgo the casters and use this behind a sofa, and you are good to go!
Have I inspired you to take more chances and to try building your own furniture? This is literally one of the easiest projects, plus it's completely customizable.
So, when are you going to the hardware store to get your supplies?