Step 1: Go on a hunt for vintage wooden rulers and yard sticks. Wander through antique stores and troll online auction sites. Remember to look for rulers that are the same or similar thickness so that your finished table top will be level. Also, keep in mind rulers with a metal strip will be trickier to work with.
Step 2: Before you begin attaching rulers to your table, measure the table’s dimensions. With a little bit of simple math you’ll be able to determine if you have enough rulers to cover the entire surface. Having some extra on hand is desirable in case you make a mistake or miscalculation.
Step 3: Depending on your level of skill, you can eyeball your design or create a template by tracing the tabletop onto a sheet of paper. Experiment with your arrangement until you’re satisfied.
Step 4: When you’re ready, begin by attaching a ruler segment, anchoring it to a corner. Use a flat-head nail to attach each piece at each end. An air-powered brad nailer makes the work go quickly. But if you don’t have one, you can hammer them in. After measuring carefully, use a miter saw or handheld saw and miter box to cut rulers into smaller pieces to complete your design. Continue adding rulers in rows, lining them up carefully to avoid gaps. Use a square to check your edges and ensure your rows aren’t crooked.
Step 5: Take a handheld electric sander or medium grit sand paper to the ruler edges. Smooth out any rough cuts or uneven ends. Wipe down the entire table top with a damp cloth to remove any residual dust.
Step 6: Working in a well-ventilated area, apply several layers of polyurethane over the rulers with a clean brush, according to the can’s directions. Allow ample time for drying between coats. Once you’re done, let the table dry for another 48 hours before putting anything on its surface. This table rules!
Alicia Cahill is a creative director for Coast and owner of The Kitchen Chick, 528 23rd St. in the island’s downtown.