Blogger ate the climactic update #4. I have a hunch it will appear sometime in March. Anyway, briefly, the lessons I learned from the Coffee Table Zombie project:
1) It is possible to build something useful without expensive tools
2) Some more appropriate inexpensive tools would still be really nice
3) Making a mistake is a step in the process, not necessarily an end to it
4) The people at Home Depot do not think the phrase "inter-dimensional lumber" is funny
5) 2x4's are not 2 inches by 4 inches
If I do another carpentry project, I will either A) get a decent worktable before starting the project, or B) make "make a decent worktable" the project.
On a more serious note, I would not ask or permit my friends to use my table like real furniture if I weren't convinced it is safe. Obviously I made serious mistakes, but those are mistakes relative to a an intentionally excessive design of heavy lumber and long screws. I really did jump up and down, and twist around, on the table and it didn't even creak. This was even before adding the books, which do not directly support the table but only act like pontoons if it starts to tip.
The most dangerous thing is probably splinters... of which there are a lot.