Dining Table

How to build a ‘Dining Table’

So here is a nice weekend project for you. My wife and I wanted a solid wood dining table with a nice rustic feel. Looking around we were shocked at the prices of new “rustic” furniture. Since we have a small car, a second hand one wasn’t really an option. So there is only one thing for it…it’s time to build a dining table.

Tools and Materials

So for a nice wooden table top you need a nice piece of wood. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a huge slab of beautiful oak lying around. But I do have some scaffolding boards. With a good bit of work these scaffold boards could clean up nicely.

For the table legs I intended on welding up some steel box section to keep with the ‘industrial theme’. However, I was shocked at how cheap table legs like this could be bought. For example, I found a great set of ‘2x industrial 75mm steel legs’ already drilled and painted for only £70 delivered. Even from my favourite steel supplier The Metal Store, the steel would cost around £80. And this is before cutting, welding and painting!

Other than the scaffold boards and legs, you will need:

  • some wooden dowels (I used 10mm like these)
  • wood glue – I used Gorilla Wood Glue
  • a couple of screws
  • a boat load of sand paper! 60 and 240 Grit
  • Varnish, wax or stain and a bit of polish

Total cost: around £90 including the scaffold boards

And from a tools point of view:

  • Plane*
  • Belt sander (big winner in this project)
  • Hand drill
  • Sash clamps or some ratchet straps

*I didn’t actually use my plane in the end as I didn’t want a completely flat finish on the table.

And finally, lets build a dining table!

Prep’in the boards

So the first thing to do is remove all the scaffold board metal work and any sneaky screws hiding in the surface. Those pesky screws would ruin your plane or sander! Then chop the boards to your desired table length and decide how many boards wide you want (I went with four).

The second thing to do is grab the plane or belt sander and get comfortable. And go! There is a fine balance here between cleaning up the wood and destroying the character. I chose to skip the plane and start directly with a 60grit sand paper. If you have particularly bad boards, a plane would probably be a better idea. I moved onto a 240grit after a quick going over with the 60grit.

Mind the gap

One thing I was keen to avoid was huge gaps between the boards when the table was mounted up. Last thing I wanted was to be picking out food which had got stuck between the boards!

So I flipped the boards on their side and spent some time flattening the edges of the boards. I then lined all the boards up to check the fit and kept adjusting until I got a close joint.

Once I was happy with the gap size, I flipped the boards on their side again being careful to note the board orientation. I then drilled 10mm holes in along the length of all of the boards – approximately 20mm deep and very carefully marked 30mm spacing. I then flipped over the boards and did exactly the same on the other edge, again being careful to keep the 30mm spacing. Next, I glued in the dowel pins into the holes along one edge of each board.

Whilst the glue is drying, I took some more cleaned up scaffold board and make some cross members. I added some 45degree edges to the boards to avoid catching your knees when sitting at the table. I also pre-drilled and countersink some screw holes.

Stack up the boards

Now it was time to bond the boards together. I lined them up on a flat surface, table top down and lined up the dowel pins with the corresponding holes. I applied some wood glue to the edge of each board. Then using the sash clamps (or ratchet straps), I pulled all the boards tightly together being careful to keep the top surface flat (the dowel pins should help this).

Then it was time to add the support boards. I started by adding a little wood glue to each support. Then with the sash clamps (or ratchets) still in place, I screwed down the support boards. Be sure to screw down the support board into each of the scaffold boards on the table top.

As a decorative touch, I also installed dowel pins into the outside edges of the table. These were easily trimmed off and sanded back to give a little nod to the construction. If your going to build a dining table, it’s important to add a nice geeky touch!

Take a chill

Now it was time to play the waiting game. As the scaffold boards have been heavily sanded, glued and pulled into place, they are prone to warping. So allow this to happen. I put the table top in a warm place and left it for a week or so.

After the table top had finished its little shuffle, I grabbed the sander and got back to work! Again, I went with a 240grit and kept sanding until I had a nice flat, smooth table top. I also roughed up the edges a little and rounded all the corners.

Finishing up

Now we have a smooth flat table, its time for finishing touches. Apply a few coats of your chosen finish leaving plenty of time between coats. The freshly sanded wood sucks up the finish very easily so quite a few coats are probably needed. I went with 4 coats of ‘medium oak’ varnish finished off with a 2 coats of bees wax.

The legs are simple enough to attach. In my case it was 4 screws per leg which I pre-drilled to make sure there was no splitting. To keep the table as sturdy as possible, I mounted the legs tight up against the support boards.

Well, that’s it: how to build a dining table. I’m really happy with the way it came out. Especially given that it cost me less than £70 since I already had the varnish and scaffold boards. You could even make the legs yourself if you wanted to keep the cost down further.

If you have a go at this one, let me know! Drop a comment below or get in touch via the contact page.

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