Expandable formal dining table that seats ten and fits in a closet

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Picture of Expandable formal dining table that seats ten and fits in a closet
Here is the ultimate in folding dining room tables.  Fully extended, it easily seats ten people comfortably.  Stowed, it's just big enough for you and your laptop.

What's more, the legs are removable so the entire thing packs away compactly — you can stuff it in a closet.  If you ever need to set up a formal dining table for ten, you just toss the thing in the back of your car and go.

The construction of the table is based on telescoping rails built from a series of hardwood blocks.  This is the most interesting and challenging part of the project.

Note: the astute reader may notice occasional differences between the drawings and the photographs.  Where there are differences, the drawings should taken as the canonical source.  The photos are of a prototype, and the design has been refined since it was built.

The attached Sketchup files include complete designs for the table. The second file is the details of the rail construction.

This file is entered in the furniture design contest; I appreciate your vote.
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Step 1: Required skills, tools, and materials.

Picture of Required skills, tools, and materials.
This is a project for an experienced woodworker.


Eye and ear protection.

At the very least you'll need a table saw, drill, and router table.  A power sander and drill press are highly recommended and a biscuit joiner would also come in handy.  For the router, you need a dovetail bit, a 5/16" or 3/8" straight bit, and a larger straight bit capable of cutting 3/4" deep, plus any decorative bits you desire for the edges.

A sharp chisel.

A ratchet wrench, extension, and 3/8" deep socket.

Plus the usual straight edges, screwdrivers, clamps and so forth.


Two sheets of ¾" plywood, one side good (I recommend oak).

Hardwood of the same type sufficient to make a ½"x¾" border around the entire table: two 8' lengths, two 4' lengths, and two 2' lengths.  If you can't get 8' lengths, don't despair; you'll just need eight 19" lengths.

Hardwood sufficient to make 20 16"x2¼x1¼ blocks.  Poplar is good; birch or maple is even better.

Six table legs, 2½" x 2½" at the top, 28" high (more or less, depending on how tall you want your table to be).  You can make these or mail-order them, which is what I did.  Just search for "wood table legs" and a number of vendors will pop up.  Larger table legs will work just fine, but don't go smaller than 2½" x 2½".

Two table leg brackets.  Just search for "table leg bracket" and a number of vendors will pop up.

Four ¼"x2½" hanger bolts (available at any hardware store). These are two-ended bolts that have wood screw threads on one end and machine threads on the other.  These are screwed into wooden objects and leave protruding threads to allow things to be bolted on.

Four ¼" wing nuts and four washers.

Two 3/8"x3" hanger bolts.

two 3/8" hex nuts and two washers.

Glue, screws, stain, varnish
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thayes47 months ago

This is exactly like the Goliath table in Europe! I was looking for expandable tables as I'll be living by myself and was fascinated by it. I then spent about a week looking for it finding only versions available in Europe. I'd given up until today when after seeing it again in a morphing apartment video I did a search for it and came across your guide. I can't tell you how happy this makes me. Im jumping for joy and cant wait to make this. Thank you, thank you a million times thank you~!

falk (author)  thayes46 months ago

I never heard of Goliath before I published this instructable, but they do look like nice tables.

This design is based on an "Expansole" table I got at a garage sale. Expansole specialized in a number of furniture products that folded up small but expanded big. Alas, they went out of business many years ago.

falk (author)  falk6 months ago

Correction: it's called "Extensole". You can find out a little about their products on antiques web sites, and so forth.

rkelshikar falk1 month ago
Sir, can you make a tutorial video of this plz...i want to make it for my mom
falk (author)  rkelshikar1 month ago

Unfortunately, I would have to make another table in order to make a video. I already have more expanding tables than I need.

sjl19863 years ago
Personally, I don't want a dining room in my house because I would rarely use it. I usually eat at a breakfast area in the kitchen or on my couch. How hard would it be to either make legs that fold, or collapse? It's the perfect size table for a coffee table when not in use as a 10 person dining table. I'd use it as a living room center piece. I guess it would be easier and probably more sturdy to just make a separate set of 4 short legs to replace the longer ones when using as a coffee table.
falk (author)  sjl19862 years ago
Yes, exactly. Just make four shorter legs for coffee-table mode, and just remove the center legs entirely (you don't need them when the table is collapsed).

I think this is a great idea, and just might make a set of short legs myself.
macrumpton3 years ago
This is a beautiful project, but very challenging to my woodworking skills and limited tools, but it occurs to me that you could make an easier version by starting with an existing wood table and cutting it in half. Then you could use a couple of 2x4s to make a pair of 8' rails that you could keep in a closet when you are not using them. A pair of bolts and wingnuts on each end of the rails would securely attach the rails to the table halves. A pair of short rails would hold the table together when the length was not needed.

My solution is a lot less elegant, but even I could build it in a day or so. Thanks for the inspiration!
falk (author)  macrumpton3 years ago
Actually, that's not a bad idea.
TaylorM43 days ago

You said you could buy them online. I've looked around a bit. Do you have any recommendations for extensions that go to a similar length that you built?

hey falk i sent you a private message. May you pleasde reply when you get the chasnce

chesler4 months ago

I inherited a similar table from my grandparents, vintage WWII +/-. Unlike yours, but like this one currently for sale:

one of the leaves lives bottom-side-up on top of everthing else, and it flips over, and I think a piece slides out to support it. And a 5th leg flips down.

I never thought to remove the legs.

My all-time favorite expanding table, and equally beyond my abilities,is the Bruno Mattsson Maria Drop table. Between the typical outer drop leaves are a pair of inner leaves retroflex folded, and they're all supported by gate legs which fit inside each other. (Bad explanation, but the entire top stores like a capital letter M compressed.) They sell for a few thousand dollars now; I doubt my parents paid that much for something that took up only 10" of their rent-controlled apartment. I'm sure a motivated woodworker could adapt the design.

Tinker L7 months ago

Great design! Aren't there any ready built table slides out there that would work for those of us without dovetailing jigs? Thanks!

falk (author)  Tinker L7 months ago

Yes! I saw some in a catalog just the other day. Thanks for reminding me to post an update. Do a google search for "extension slides" and all sorts of results will turn up.

apapi1 year ago
Wow! nice work! just wondering, Can i use drawer slides and "multi-stack" them sideways for the railings? i dont have tools to fabricate the rails and even if i do i dont have the space to work on it as i live in a small flat. trying to think of ways i can improvise this and make it simpler. any sugestions? please advise me... thanks!
falk (author)  apapi1 year ago
It would probably work, provided the slides were robust enough. I've never worked with drawer slides myself, so I can't give any more advice than that.

If you try it, let us know how it works out.
amazing design and great build... I don't think I need one so big (long) but I am definitely going to incorporate your design for the extension into my table... THANKS for solving a big problem with my design!
hebadba1 year ago
I like this idea so much , I wish to know its owner as I saw a lot of companies sell it.
RbotJ1 year ago
My gosh you've conquered Goliath! People can save thousands!!!
falk (author)  RbotJ1 year ago
I'm not sure who "Goliath" is in this context, but I'm sure he had it coming.
evamaria2 years ago
I love this tabel. I am planing to make one. Do you think it would work with cirkel top and the top plate made of MDF?
falk (author)  evamaria2 years ago
I'm not sure what "cirkel" means unless you mean "circle" in English.

You would want to trim the edge of the top with veneer of some sort, but I'm sure it could be done.
making it as a coffe table brilliant
falk (author) 2 years ago
Another tip: this design has the legs permanently attached to the board, and the entire set comes off as one unit, which is just slightly clumsy. An alternative would be to permanently attach the board to the rails, and find some sort of knock-down hardware to attach the legs to the board. (I'm rather fond of threaded inserts myself.) However you do it, just make sure that nothing protrudes above the board because it would interfere with the sliding rails.
falk (author) 2 years ago
p.s. the legs can be larger than 2.5"x2.5" with no changes in the design.
falk (author) 2 years ago
p.s. Ignore the extra holes in the rails in the 4th picture. It was a prototype, what can I say?
falk (author) 2 years ago
Actually, I realized that you *can* perfectly center the dovetail grooves in the blocks by cutting them in two passes: Cut the dovetail on one side, then flip the block end-for-end and cut on the other side. It's not strictly required that the dovetail grooves are exactly centered, but it makes life a lot easier further on.
dilligafftw2 years ago
This is brilliant. Living in a small apartment means I can't have a big table all the time but with this I can have any size table I need. You saved me thousands of dollars as I was going to buy the Goliath table but know I have to spend a few hundred.
Keep the great ideas coming!
sgeorge152 years ago
I cannot wait to try this. Looks like an awesome plan!
mganpate2 years ago
great brain ...........
si_kerr2 years ago
Awesome design. I showed my wife and she likes it too, but neither of can see where the rest of the top panels are hidden when the table is in it's "small" form? How do you hide the other panels if they're the same width as the main top panel?
falk (author)  si_kerr2 years ago
In the hallway closet. :)
JeffG3 years ago
Great design. I have an antique hall table the uses a similar approach, along with a folding top. Bit wobbly when fully extended but like you said, able to hold dinner.

Table extenders are available from Lee Valley (probably other woodworking supply places as well) if you don't want to make them.,43586

falk (author)  JeffG3 years ago
Oh, those are nice. Wouldn't have worked for this table, but would be great for a smaller one.
tinker2343 years ago
could i use 100 pound wait limt drawer slides instseed of the wooden mechansim i dont have the skill to make something as amazing as this
casafeliz123 years ago
This is a great table design, but what about the chairs? Do you have a plan for "easy" chairs?
Matdredalia3 years ago
This is an AMAZING piece of work, sir. You are to be commended.

I have to admit, my first thought was "This would be amazing for D&D nights."

"Hey, I'm bringing the Doritos & Mountain Dew!"
"Okay, I'm bringing the table."

Just an amazingly creative piece of work. :)
falk (author)  Matdredalia3 years ago
I must confess that I'm still awaiting the day when someone asks if someone can bring a dining table to some party or another.

Amazing ! I like it very well. design is best !

Keep posting new ideas

curbowman3 years ago
AMAZING! What's more, ResourceFurniture sells this design, as the Goliath table. They replaced the wooden rails with metallic ones, so with some work you can either sweat a little and build this table or shell out US$ 5,000. I know what my choice will be!
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