I love taking photos. Now I’m not a professional. I’m not even a professional food blogger….yet. But I love beautiful photos and I appreciate when I see amazing food pictures. I look at how they were taken, where they were taken and what surface they were taken on. Now Amy over at Pennywise Cook gave me the original idea about creating different table tops. I took it to heart and created five different boards with (ten total table tops counting front and back). Amy and I were talking one day and I told her I was so jealous of her photos! I said that she had some amazing table tops and I didn’t understand how she could afford them all. Well she let me in on a little secret, they aren’t tables at all!! They are $10 pieces of wood from Home Depot! LIGHTBULB. I was so excited that day I went out and bought pieces of plywood and created tabletops. This is very simple to do. Two foot by two foot pieces of plywood and paint or stain. Each table top board costs around $15 to make, front and back, or $7.5o per side!!
First you’ll want to find plywood at Home Depot. Because I’m lazy and don’t want to pull out my circular saw for one cut, I ask them to cut it for me at Home Depot. They always do. I go for the 2 feet by 4 feet pieces and have them cut it down to 2 feet by 2 feet. This is big enough to create some really good photos. Then you’ll need to color your table top. You can stain it, paint it, even spray paint it. It doesn’t really matter, what matters is picking a color that will work over and over. Also remember that the plywood has TWO SIDES!! I’m a frugal person, why spend money and take up space when you don’t have to!!
Then I started getting jealous of food bloggers than had amazing looking table tops. Not just colored ones, but the textures. So being frugal and cheap, I went off to Home Depot again in search of making a textured tabletop for food photography. Now I asked a guy in lumber and after trying to explain that I wanted a fake table and a few eye rolls he brings me to something that would cost $150 to make. I’m like, ‘Dude, I could buy a table for that much!!’ So having the idea in my head, I just walked around the lumber aisles and then I stumbled upon cedar wood shims! FINALLY!
So if you know anything about shims, they are used all over the place in construction, and they are CHEAP. I have used them when I was putting in a door to make it tight. But for my food photos, I wanted to make a table top that looked amazing. BUT HOW you ask; well it’s simple. Go get a cheap piece of 2 ft by 4 ft plywood, cut it down to make it two by two feet and then lay the shims over top of it. One problem, shims aren’t level. They are like a triangle. BUT if you take two shims and glue them together, you’ll get a level surface. So I bought four packs of wood shims, a piece of plywood and some wood glue and went to work!
The trick is to find GOOD wood shims when you are buying them. Look in the package and double check for complete shims. Sometimes the shims can be broken, or have holes. Then when you get home, start gluing them together. It will take about 2 packages to cover one side of a 2 by 2 foot piece of plywood. You can make lots of different designs, it doesn’t really matter. Make sure to have cans because as you glue the shims to the plywood you’ll need something heavy to place on top of them, as the glue dries.
Eventually your entire piece of plywood will be covered, and viola, you have a fancy table top. You can stain it, white wash it, paint it. It doesn’t matter. Here is a recent picture of the skinny chocolate chip cookies on the table top with no stain:
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All in all this is a great way to create table tops for food photography. It’s cheap, which is good for everyone. To make FOUR (unstained or non-painted) table tops it cost me about $40 or about $10 a table. Now the stain runs about $3 for a small can, and a sample size of paint is also about $3, so you’re looking at $13 for each table top side….not a bad deal at all!!
If you have any other ideas on how to create amazing table tops, I’d love to hear about them! Hope this helps you spice up your food photography!