I used to have a sweet little podium that my dad made for my mom that was passed down to me after her retirement. I loved that thing but it got ruined with years of use and abuse. I’ve been thinking a lot of classroom layout and what I’ll need to be productive and I wished I would have kept that old thing around. Since that thing was long gone, I decided to make one just for me. Originally, I found a pretty good tutorial on the internet that looked like something I could handle by myself. Well, let me just say – that was the dumbest idea I’ve ever had. You’ll need some help. Unless you are a seasoned woodworker.
There are a lot of tips and tricks that my dad was able to tell or show me to make the podium more sturdy. It also helped prevent a potential-DIY-craft-disaster and produce a real piece of furniture, that will last for years.
You will need:
· 4’ x 8’ piece of 3/4 inch plywood. I went with a Birch wood for a ultra smooth surface
· table saw. (A home improvement store can make the big cuts for you if you don’t have one)
· hand saw for smaller cuts
· nail gun & Nails
· wood glue
· a helper (preferably someone with experience)
The first thing to do is plan your cuts out. Please take the dimensions of this guide as a suggestion. I based these on my height (I’m 5’5”) and my preferences so you will probably want to adjust them. If you want to make it longer or shorter just add or subtract the amount from the height (the larger number this time) of the front panel and the two side panels.
To get the grain running vertically you will need to cut the plywood in half. This gives more eye-appeal to the furniture when it is done. It also makes the other cuts more manageable. This was the first tip that my dad gave me. My plans were to make all the cuts horizontally – which would have looked funky.
Next we decided on the height and depth of the podium and how much of a slope the top needed to be.
We dropped the long side of “side 1” and “side 2” down about 3 inches and drew a line then cut. (Double and triple check these measurements. They have to be PERFECT or your podium will be very unsteady).
This is also a good time to mention to you about an ugly piece on the plywood. I LOVE all the knots and imperfections but you may want to strategically place them in an inconspicuous spot. The top of this board was just turned to the inside of the piece. So it became the right side of the podium. Just think things through before you cut them … or… embrace the imperfections.
At this point, you’ll need to give the kids a mallet and a scrap board so that they will quit crying. Yell at the older ones and threaten them so that they will stop rolling around in the dirt. Then you’ll want to grab a sander and sand all the pieces, front and back. You can sand later, but… trust me, it is easier to do it now.
Now is time to glue and nail the sides to the front. Make sure you attach them at very square, 90- degree angles.
Apply a fine line of wood glue all the way down the sides of the front. Then attach the sides. You may need to clamp it or have someone hold it steady while you nail it with a nail gun.
Clean ALL the glue off of the wood with a wet cloth. If you don’t get it all off it will NOT stain or paint well.
Now is time for the installation of support braces and the shelf.
To make the support braces cut out 4″ x 4″ squares and then cut them in half to have perfect right triangles. Cutting the tip off of the top provides a tighter fit to the sides. They will go in the back corners to add extra support. Glue and nail so that they’ll be parallel to the floor.
For the shelf, you just need to decide how far down you want it and how much shelf space you need. Make sure the shelf is level (use a level) then glue and nail in place.
In this picture you can see the braces and the shelf.
The final part of the construction is to attach the top. Find the center points of the front panel and both side panels. Find the center points of all four sides of the top. Put a bead of glue on top of all the front and side panels. Line the top up and place it on top of the panels. MAKE SURE IT IS CENTERED!!! Nail the top STRAIGHT DOWN to the panel. Be careful so that your nails don’t come out through the other side of the top. You wan them to go into the thickness of the plywood panels.
You are done with the construction of the podium.
The entire construction process took about 4 hours. But, we did have some breaks to deal with hungry and whiney kids and broke up a couple of fights over who could build the tallest tower with scrap wood.
What???? My photographer didn’t take a picture of the finished product!
That’s okay. I will post later about painting and staining it and you’ll see the end result very soon.