We just had a new patio added on the back of our house and needed a large table to seat 10 or more people - all the tables we saw when shopping were for either for 4, 6 or 8 at the most - and ranged from $150-$600! I had seen several of this style "live edge" tables as rustic dining room tables, but never used outside. I did some research to see if it was even practical and after determining it was, started the planning to make one myself. The goal was to keep the total under $400.

As an experiment, I did a time-lapse of the majority of the process - wow, I get tired just watching it! It is here - 14 days reduced to 3 minutes - enjoy - http://youtu.be/ngZ_2pP5csQ

I looked at some local sources for the wood slabs (lumber yards, and saw mills) - I was pleasantly surprised at how many choices I had. I finally settled on purchasing 2 slabs from Craigslist - the person selling them had 6 slabs cut from a large maple tree - they had been drying for about 4 years - properly "stickered." The only problem I ran into was that I needed to rent a truck from Lowes for $50 to pick up these 2 11-foot long slabs - all told, the project came in at $361.

Materials Needed:

  • 4”x4”x8’ Douglas Fir Post - (legs and frame)
  • Set of Maple slabs – 4’ x 10’
  • Valspar Duramax Semi-gloss #5 Dark Tint Base - 1 qt
  • Titebond III waterproof wood glue - 1 Qt
  • 2”x4”x10’ Board – straight edge
  • WaterLox Tung Oil Marine Finish
  • KREG 2.5” Blue-Kote Pocket Screw – 50

When researching the type of finish for an exterior table, I had to make sure it would be able to endure harsh winters and hot, humid summers. I ruled out polyurethane and varnishes - they crack and chip with wide extremes of temperature. I needed something that would expand and contract with the temperature (-20 to 100 degrees). For the top, I used WaterLox Exterior Marine Tung Oil - it expands and contracts without cracking. For the base I was more concerend with durability than appearance (and the Tung oil is very expensive) - I came across this article and decided to give it a try for the base. The only problem I had was I could not find the oil-based base (NY has pretty much outlawed Oil-based paints... thanks). I settled on Valspar Duramax #5 Base from Lowes. If dried with a slightly whiteish finish - the oil-based version would not. Nevertheless, it is barely visible on the base.

Step 1: Fatten and Flatten...

The Plan:

  1. Design and planning
  2. Build work surface - saw horses with wood tops
  3. Trim to size + ½” and butt-edges – make angle template, cut with circular saw, then butt together and re-cut.
  4. Join two slabs together with Pocket Screws
  5. Plane bottom surface
  6. Flip and plane top surface
  7. Attach bottom seam and cross braces if needed
  8. Sand and remove bark
  9. Build base and mount top to base
  10. Stand up and finish top and legs

Table Top

The first step was to cut the slabs to size - this required figuring out what final shape I wanted - flat, cut-off ends or natural. For our needs, we decided on on cut-off ends and natrual-edge sides. I took pictures of the two slabs and used a variety of image-editors to come up with shape-only outlines that I could maneuver to see how to butt together for the final shape and size I wanted. I used Powerpoint and an excel spreadsheet to scale the models to 1/15th scale.

I set up a workbench in my garage, because I could not fit this project in my basement workshop. I worked on the bottom side of the table first, locking toether the 2 sides with 2 parallel 2x4s screwed into the bottom. I trimmed the ends flat and trimmed the inside edge of each side flat using a power saw. I then butted the two edges together (lightly) and ran the saw down the common edge to flatten out and give the two butted edges a common surface. I drilled 72 holes using a Kreg pocket Jig. NOTE - I drilled way too many - I spaced them every 6 inches - I could easily have used half as many with no problem. Before screwing together, I applied Titebond III glue to both surfaces and clamped from the bottom using as many clamps as I could muster.

<p>Awesome, it looks fabulous! I love the 9 months later follow up too! Impressive! :)</p>
<p>I cannot believe you pocket jigged that many holes. How long did that take!?</p><p>Awesome build, by the way.</p>
<p>Only about an hour, but it was WAY overkill.</p>
How did you fasten the slab to the base?
<p>I use some 4.5&quot; lag bolts, counter-sunk and filled with a hole plug. It isn't going anywhere. They were something like this - <a href="http://www.homedepot.com/p/Unbranded-8-4-1-2-in-Internal-Square-Flat-Head-Wood-Screws-3-Pack-12851/203448247?N=5yc1vZc2b0Z1z0sfp4Z1z0sg0mZ1z0sgtl" rel="nofollow">http://www.homedepot.com/p/Unbranded-8-4-1-2-in-In...</a></p>
Great design on that table! Someday I hope to make one of my own.
You are amazing. Give yourself a handshake from me!
<p>This is beautiful!</p>

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