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I'm working with a friend who is trying to make a kitchen table (i.e to use for eating) from a bookcase which broke. We're trying to do it as low-budget as possible (he's in a lot of debt right now).

The bookcase is made up of a type of WPC. Each piece is about 2cm thick. It has a very thin plastic or vinyl cover on the top, bottom and the exposed side of the shelf (the one you would see when looking at the shelves in the bookcase). The other three sides of the shelves- the parts that would be against the bookcase when the shelf was in place- have no cover at all.

For this project, we're basically planning on attaching 4 shelves to form a rectangle, via a couple of wooden slats underneath these shelves. Then we'll attach a couple of legs underneath it to prop it up. (The goal here is cheap and functional, not aesthetic!)

The question we have is what we should do to cover the top of the table to seal it.

As mentioned, there are 4 shelves next to each other which means there are cracks between each one. And some of the surfaces in the cracks don't even have a vinyl covering, so if anything spills it will get absorbed into the WPC. And frankly, we want to seal the cracks so nothing gets caught there anyway- it's a recipe for microbes.

We're debating getting a thin sheet of thick plastic to put down on top and attach. But if we drill the plastic in, we now have holes around the screws where things could seep in.

Someone recommended that we attach the thick plastic by first applying a layer of silicon to the table. Someone else said to skip the plastic and just apply silicon. A third person said to just apply shellac- not silicon- to the whole thing, but a fourth person said the shellac will drip through the cracks and won't be thick enough to seal the cracks.

We're getting quite confused by these possibilities. We don't have experience with any of these, nor do we have any of the above on hand to try out. We'll obviously buy what we need to use, but we're trying to keep this as low cost as possible.

What's the best (cheapest, easiest, effective) way to seal the table top to make it useable as a kitchen table, disregarding aesthetics?

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    ...use a tablecloth (waterproof.) – Ecnerwal Jul 5 at 12:59
  • He intends on putting a tablecloth on (that's why he doesn't care how it looks). But he wants to seal the table first. Sometimes things spill and could get under the cloth, or the tablecloth could get caught on the cracks between the shelves etc. – Binyomin Jul 5 at 13:19
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Your most "microbe resistant" option would be what you already thought of: a thin plastic sheet. Just glue it down with contact cement, rather than drilling and screwing, if you are worried about the screw holes (I would not be so worried about the screw holes myself...)

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  • Contact cement - that was my first thought! – FreeMan Jul 6 at 13:01
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Not seeing or knowing the length of the shelves you are using, I would not use slats to assemble the top. It would be another expense saved. I would use a cross layer of selves for that if there were enough of them and the table was small enough, since this material sags readily under its' own weight. It will make the table heavier, but it is not like it needs to be moved everyday.

Screwing 2 layers together and keeping the table small will allow the table top to work over time and not fail with light use. I would suggest not using this table for anything other than eating, not a work space. The extra thickness will allow better grab for screws used for holding the legs in place.

After it is assembled, protect the top with the plastic like you suggest. It does not need to be a full bed of adhesive, just dabs maybe 8" apart, closer works too but a continuous line around the perimeter. Pre-fit the top before applying the adhesive. Press the top layer in place and clean the edges with cleaner for the adhesive after the adhesive squeezes out. There are many good brands of water based adhesive out there that will allow you to do this. If any finer tunig of the edge is needed, a file can be carefully used to get rid of any edges that may get hung on clothing or other things.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contact_paper A type of adhesive plastic sheet

But if you're really desperate for cash just seal the joins with packing tape and replace the tape as needed.

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If you're thinking of buying plastic sheets and silicone and or shellac, just save the money and buy a sheet of plywood then cover it with a table cloth. The plywood will provide stability as well as prevent liquids leaking through the slats to the floor, etc. A thin coat of sealant will provide at least as much waterproofing as any other wooden table has.

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