Simple Rennie Mackintosh End Table Plans

You can build this Arts & Crafts classic with inexpensive wood and two basic power tools.


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Prized by collectors, Charles Rennie Mackintosh furniture is notable for its clean, elegant lines. This end table is a good example. Here's how to build it.

Tools Required

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Biscuit joiner
  • Clamps
  • Combination square
  • Cordless drill
  • Forstner drill bits
  • Hammer
  • Miter saw
  • Orbital sander
  • Safety glasses
  • Table saw

Materials Required

  • Wood glue

This simple, well-designed end table is a perfect furniture project for a novice carpenter or a more experienced builder who appreciates a project that’s quick and easy. This end table design was originally designed in 1904 by the Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh for a home in Glasgow. Like so many other things Scottish, it’s economical in terms of time, materials and tools.

You can build the table from paint-grade yellow poplar. It’s widely available at home centers in 1x3s, 1x4s and other standard sizes. You’ll also need 1/2-in.-thick and 1/4-in.-thick material for the drawer. The total cost for the wood will be well under $100. Aside from a drill, all you’ll need to build the table are two power tools: a table saw and a plate joiner. A drill press is helpful but not necessary.

Project step-by-step (18)

Step 1

Cut the Table Legs

  • Cut the legs (A) from your 1×3 material.
    • Note: You won’t have to rip the wood; just cut the pieces to final length.
  • Mark the top end of each leg to indicate which sides face out.
    • Pro tip: I always mark each piece of a project like this. If you make your marks anywhere else, sanding will erase them. Ends usually don’t get sanded.

Step 2

Make the Biscuit Slots

  • Cut a pair of No. 20 biscuit slots in the top end of each leg.
  • Place a 3/4-in. scrap under the plate joiner to space the slots.

Step 3

Glue Sides and Guides

  • Glue together the table’s sides and drawer guides, cut 1 in. extra long.
  • After the glue dries, trim them to final length.

Step 4

Make Slots in the Guides

  • Cut biscuit slots in the side/guides, using the spacer again.
    • Note: This puts the drawer guides flush with the inside edge of the legs.

Step 5

Cut Slots in Stretchers

  • Make vertical slots in the stretchers that go between the legs.
    • Pro tip: Butt the plate joiner against a spacer to locate each slot.

Step 6

Glue Table Sides

  • Glue the sides of the table.
    • Pro tip: Use a combination square to make sure the stretcher is in the correct position.

Step 7

Create Arches

  • Shape arches from small pieces glued to the table’s apron.
    • Pro tip: With so little wood to remove, just use a rasp and sandpaper.

Step 8

Glue the Base

  • Clamp spacers between the legs to make sure they’re parallel.
  • Glue the table’s base.

Step 9

Cut Slots in Stretchers

  • Cut open-ended slots in the short stretchers.
  • Slide them in place, making sure their top edges are flush.

Step 10

Saw Bevel Edges

  • Saw bevels around the table’s top.
    • Pro tip: Use a tall sliding fence to support the top.

Step 11

Fasten Top to Base

  • Screw the top to the base using desktop fasteners.
    • Note: Positioned on the outside, they won’t interfere with the drawer.

Step 12

Cut Rabbets

  • Begin making the drawer by using a dado set to cut rabbets in the drawer’s front.

Step 13

Drill Holes in Sides

  • Drill 1/4-in. holes through the drawer’s sides.
  • Cut grooves in the front and sides to receive the drawer’s bottom.

Step 14

Glue the Drawer

  • Position the back of the drawer so it sits just above the groove for the drawer’s bottom.
  • Glue the drawer together.

Step 15

Glue in Pegs

  • Drill through the 1/4-in. holes to make them deeper, then glue in short pegs.

Step 16

Glue Up Bottom

  • Use opposing wedges to squeeze the pieces between two clamped boards.
  • Glue up the drawer’s bottom from 1/4-in. poplar.

Step 17

Fit Drawer Bottom

  • Slide the bottom into the drawer.
    • Note: Don’t use glue, because the bottom must be free to expand and contract.

Step 18

Stain and Seal

  • Seal the wood with two coats of poly, then use thin coats of gel stain.