When I had enough space and time to get into woodworking in 2012, I knew very little about joinery, but knew I wanted to make a cool looking table. I had seen some examples on Reddit and other sites of laminated benches and tables, so I headed to the local Home Depot, picked up a bunch of 1"x3" poplar and oak boards. The nice thing about these boards is that they are milled pretty decently for big box lumber with little warping.
I wanted to go with a contrasted effect with the wood, so I used poplar for the legs, and in the top I alternated oak in with the poplar. The nice thing about a table or bench in this style is you only really need a saw, wood, clamps, a pencil, a tape measure, wood glue, sandpaper and the wood finish of your choice.
Step 1: Planning.
For this project I used 1"x3" boards. The actual dimensions are 0.75" thick x 2.5" tall, so take that into account. Stores will normally also list the actual dimensions when you're shopping. I chose to make the sofa table 9.75" deep so that there would be an odd number of boards across, making the design symmetrical so that there is a long or short board on both sides of the top, rather than a short board on one side and a long one on the other.
I used a finger joint for joining the top to the legs, and the bottom shelf to the legs. This finger joint is made simply by gluing short pieces of wood to long pieces of wood. A detail of the corner is shown here. So for this top we would need 7 pieces of poplar and 6 pieces of oak. The oak boards will be 5" shorter than the poplar boards to account for the 2.5" board height in the finger joints. I also wanted a bottom shelf, so I planned for another five pieces of oak that were the same length as the longer poplar boards. I used poplar for the legs, so the length and number of boards will depend how tall and how long you want your table
Step 2: Cut Your Boards to Length
Measure how long, deep and tall you want your bench or table. Next you'll cut as many boards needed to reach that width.
So a 12" deep table would need 16 boards. I cut my boards about 0.5" longer than I wanted the table and sanded down any pieces that were sticking out after glue-up. We're using a finger joint that we create via gluing for our table, so half the boards for the top are 5" shorter. As we only have one joint for the legs, half the legs will end up being just 2.5" shorter if you're using 1x3 boards.
Step 3: Start The Glue-up
I started with the top, and glued one long board to one short board. You can use hidden fasteners, or biscuits, or something else to keep the boards matched up. While I did not, it may make it a little easier when clamping. In the image to the side, the table is upside down and you can see the completed top and the finger joint. Each angle is a 90 degree cut, and we put a lot of glue on each board and clamped it to the next board. For the bottom shelf, I cut the leg boards 2.5" shorter and cut them at the height I wanted the shelf, then placed one leg board, the shelf board on top, then the remainder piece of the leg on top of that.
Step 4: Sanding and Finishing
After your glue-up is complete, sand any protruding boards, and you can sand or use a roundover router bit to soften the edges and corners. The boards were already very smooth from the store, so I didn't need to sand much at all. You can start with a coarser grit, say 80 or 120, and move up to 200 and higher to make it smoother and smoother. After sanding, you can apply any stain and finish you prefer. I used a Watco Danish Oil to keep the wood close to its original color and to add a layer of protection.