I have always had an interest in building furniture but never had a chance to take a class while in college. No matter, I also happen to be one of those types of people that loves teaching myself things by trial and error. So after I built my bed frame and did a pretty decent job at it I said well lets try to build a dining room table. The problem was I have had the hardest time finding the right dining table for myself. Designers always say their hardest client is always themselves, and this was defiantly the case with my dining table. I already had two knock off wishbone dining chairs and knew I loved them so much I wanted to get more and so I knew my table needed to accent the chairs. I searched high and low for ideas of tables that would accent and show the true charm of those chairs but it was taking months and I still hadn't found something that spoke to me.
Finally one day I came across this picture on Pinterest, I wasn't even looking for my table at that point but the picture came up in similar images to what I had been looking at it and it was like the photo was saying "Hey Jess! Jess over here I'm your inspiration for your dining table!" It totally was calling me and from the second I clicked on it to make it larger I knew it was my table. After that it was a matter of figuring out how to make it. This lead to reading many blogs and watching many YouTube videos.
I found the technique of the Kreg Pocket Screw for making dining tables and knew I would be making the table in my actual dining room of my apartment and didn't want to take on anything too loud, difficult, or something that you needed lots of the right tools and space. I did a bit more research on the Kreg pocket screw and went to town purchasing the right equipment for my table. Here is the list of items I needed.
1) Wood- figure out how much you need before you head to the store.
2) Circular Saw
3) Wood Sander
4) Power Drill
5) Kreg Jig HD kit.
6) Wood Project Clamps (However many you need for your building environment, you want to make sure the wood is secured down well.)
7) Kreg HD Pocket-Hole Screws - 30 ct.
8) Extra Kreg Jig HD (Heavy-Duty) Drill Bit (You get one of these with the Kreg Jig HD kit, but I ended up breaking one and needed extra.)
9) Electric Hand Planer
11) Tape Measure
12) Plastic Wood Filler
13) Stain or Polyurethane (I used a clear matte Polyurethane)
14) Nail-On Cushion Glides with Plastic Base
Before I even ended up going to the lumbar yard or buying or renting any of the tools I drew the table in sketch up first. I recommend sketch up for anyone actually. It's a free program you can download off the internet and watch one or two YouTube videos and I'm sure you can get by enough to draw a simple drawing of the table. If you're good at hand drawing and not computers then go right ahead and draw out the table by hand but I defiantly recommend drawing and figuring out widths and lengths before you head to the lumbar yard.
I ended up getting White Ash for my table. I could have used any species of wood but what I really loved about my inspiration photo was how similar the wood was to my chairs and how they complimented each other.
For my table top I got wood that was 8/4 thick. In real person lingo that's about 2" thick but at the lumber yard they called it 8/4 thick. For my legs I got wood that was 6/4 thick (about 1 1/2" thick). I had the lumbar yard cut the wood down to approximately how long I needed the pieces to be. I made sure to do my math before grabbing the wood though, because most of the time the lumbar is going to come in all sorts of different lengths which should be labeled but you want to make sure you are grabbing the right amount. I also took into account that not all the lumbar was the same width and I needed my overall width to be what I had drawn previously.
Once I had all my wood cut to to the right length I started drilling with the Kreg Jig HD. The HD means it's for wood that''s over 1 1/2" thick. You could get a normal Kreg Jig but it won't drill deep enough for wood that's more than 1 1/2" thick, hence why I used to the HD jig with my 2" thick table top. The Kreg tool is unique, so make sure to watch lots of videos and read up about how to use the tool before going to town. My mistake was I didn't have a very solid surface to be drilling the holes into so my surface shook and in return I snapped a few of the drill bits. If you have a solid surface to clamp down to this might not happen but for me it did (that happens when you build a dining table in your apartment dining room.) I probably drilled over 200 holes, probably way too many but I always go overboard on these types of things, safety first we could say.
Once I had all the pocket holes drilled I laid the wood down on the floor to make sure I had enough holes drilled but to make sure also that I had done everything right and didn't need to make any changes. This is when I realized how some of the wood was really warped bad. The wood shop may have ran the wood through a huge planer but that doesn't always help the natural warp of the wood. I didn't have a electric hand planer but I had a friend whose uncle lived in the area and had a wood shop in his garage. We took the worst piece to his wood shop and he used his fancy planer for me and made the piece straight. He could have fixed all the pieces for me but I didn't want to carry all those pieces down the stairs again and back up once they were fixed. So I said I would figure it out myself, which I did.
I laid all the pieces together and started drilling them together. The image above shows how I drilled the holes so you had a screw coming from both sides all the way down the side of the wood. I made sure to drill the screws in with the wood on the floor up against the baseboards. This way I was able to give the wood pressure from where I was standing and the wood could grab each other much better. There are much better ways of doing this, but again I built this table in my dining room I had to improvise.
Once I had the table top and legs all together it was time to drill the holes for the legs to attach to the table top. I drilled the holes at the top of the legs going a 90 degree turn from how the other holes were drilled. From there I had some friends help me hold the legs where I wanted the legs to be under the table top. Remember to make sure to measure the length of the chairs you want to fit under the side of the table. You want to make sure you don't have a leg right between someones own legs.
I didn't feel the pocket holes were sturdy enough for my table, I also was worried about the pieces on the end of the table top not having enough support if someone was to lean or overtime the weight of the wood would pull it down. I may of gone overboard again but remember folks "safety first!". I ended up buying some steel from Home Depot and some brackets to hold the steel down to the wood. I also used some L- brackets to support the legs from being to wobbly and hold it better to the table top. I didn't add this to the list of items to buy because it was mostly me just feeling more comfortable.
Once I had the legs attached and all the support I wanted underneath it was time to flip this bad boy. But man oh man was he heavy, so I called those friends back over and we flipped it over with the moment of truth if it all came tumbling down. The good news it stood great and looked great. One of the legs was leaning in a bit and if you touched the table from the ends it was a little wobbly so I ended up going and buying a piece of wood that would push the leg out and support the two legs from making the table wobbly. I made sure to measure before I cut that piece and had to a little banging to get it between the legs since I did such a good job of measuring and cutting that piece. Once that support piece was between the two legs I drilled a screw in from the outsides of the legs into the support piece to hold it up. Oh I also placed some of the nail on glides to each side of each leg to protect my floors from the wood legs. All you need to do is just use a hammer and nail them into the wood.
The table was standing it hadn't fallen apart in a couple of days but when I decided not to have my friends uncle take his planer to all the wood I had a lot of gaps. Some were little gaps but some where about 3/4" wide. I did some more research and landed on using plastic wood filler to fill in the gaps of the wood. I did this all by hand and it took some time and one and a half boxes of plastic wood filler, but it worked out well for me.
Now onto the loud and messy part. I had already made a pretty bad mess in my dining room from drilling all the pocket holes but when the table needed to be sanded down man that was quite the mess. I might have been a little nervous at this step one because I was worried about putting too much pressure on the table as I was a little self conscious about my building ability and was worried it would fall apart. A:so I built this table in my dining room, nobody had complained about the noise so far but the sander was constant noise for a long period of time. I felt bad for my neighbors that had to endure the noise so far. My friend though had no shame and told me to get over that worry and he went to town sanding the table down. He did a great job and got it really smooth and the corners were rounded so nothing was sharp or could get things caught on it.
The last step was protecting the wood. My brother had suggested I use oil on the table but that can darken the wood and I wanted to keep the look of the table just protect the wood from water or anything else that could permanently damage it. So I went with a clear polyurethane with a matte finish. I could have used a normal polyurethane but for the look I wanted the matte finish worked better for me. I applied the polyurethane with a rag and made sure to rub out any streak marks from the rag. I applied a few layers and let each layer dry completely before applying the next layer. I did this to the top of the table, the sides of the table top and the legs.
The VERY last step is to enjoy. I sure have enjoyed the table so far and I'm so glad the way it turned out and the wishbone chairs look great with the table. This table won't last me forever and I'm sure eventually I'll want to get a table that's longer and can fit more people but for now its perfect for me. The best part is the table probably cost me $500-$600 dollars overall with wood, tools, and other materials. A table with this thickness and look would defiantly never cost that price, so I saved a TON of money.
Jess Goodwin is an interior designer located out of Northern New Jersey, but does work all over the United States. She has a huge passion for interior design and architecture and all things design related to be honest. She's been working in the industry for over ten years now and been designing her whole life, thats not an exaggeration.