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Picture of Make a Farmhouse or Parsons Style Table
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So the wife and I bought a new house, and we're having the family over for Thanksgiving. Our little piddley Ikea table wasn't up to the challenge. A good solid wood dining table was out of our price range so I decided to dust off the woodworking tools and build one.

The nice thing about this project is you can build it to your exact specifications. We have a fairly small dining room, so I went with 36 1/2"x60" and 30 inches tall. You can go longer, shorter, wider, whatever you want. So the first thing you have to do is decide how you want this built. Decide the size, shape, finish, and type of wood before you start.

I built mine out of aspen because it's cheap, easy to work with, and fairly cheap. You COULD build the entire table out of construction grade pine for around $50, furniture grade lumber will run about $120 and up depending on what kind of wood you choose. It's whatever you want to do. Just keep one thing in mind, pine is very soft wood. Writing on the table, dropping things on it, etc. will dent and scratch it fairly easily. If you're OK with this and you like the knots, go for it. Some woods won't take stain as well as others, some are harder to sand and work with, and you may think some wood is just plain ugly. Do your research.

UPDATE: I built a matching console table for the dining room. Find it here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-dining-room-console-table-side-or-serving/
 
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Step 1: Make the legs

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Once you've decided the shape and type of wood, you can start with the legs. Mine are 3" square. (Depending on your wood, you may be able to buy a 4"x4" and skip this step, just cut to length and go).

My legs final length are 29 1/4" long. I start by cutting 4 1"x4" boards to 36" long FOR EACH LEG! You will have 16 3' long boards total when you're done. Now, you'll take 4 of them, lay them out and glue them together using wood glue. Don't be shy with the glue, if you don't have glue splooge out when you clamp it, you aren't using enough. You'll have four 3 1/2"x3" table legs when you're done. We will cut these to their final size once the glue is dry.

Step 2: Build the table top

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While the glue is drying, it's time to build the table top. Mine is built out of two 1"x8", and four 1"x6" pushed together end to end. I also put two 1"x8" on the end. I like the look, but you could just as easily use a long board from end to end.

Cut the 1"x6" and two 1"x8" to 45 1/2" long. Take the other two 1"x8" and cut them 36 1/2" long. We will be using pocket holes to butt them together. You'll need a pocket hole jig to put this together. I put 2 pocket holes every 10" across the boards, alternating sides of the board. Once you get everything drilled, run glue across the edge and screw everything together.

NOTE: Take care to make sure everything is as even as possible. The table top is what will be seen, and the more care you take to keep everything even now the happier you'll be when you get to the sanding and finishing stages.

Step 3: Cut legs to length

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Once the glue dries, take your legs and we'll cut to length. First set a table saw to 3 1/4" and run one of the edges of the board through. (You're cutting off the edges of the board we glued). Now set the table saw to 3" and cut the OTHER side, so you now have 2 smooth edges, and you should have a 3" square board.

Now cut about 1" off one end of the board with a miter saw. This will smooth off the bottom of the leg. Measure up 29 1/4" make a cut, and you have your finished leg- 3"x3"x29 1/4".

Step 4: Clean up your mess

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Table saws make a lot of dust.

Step 5: Lay out and cut aprons

I went with a 2" inset of my legs from the table top corner. I also wanted a 3/4" inset of the apron. Do what you want, it's your table!

I measured in 2" and set up my legs. I then measured the distance between the legs and cut my aprons. (should be 26 1/2" and 50") but measure to make sure, anything could throw you off a quarter of an inch, and if it's not perfect it will stick out like a sore thumb.

Cut the aprons. You'll notice that I glued an el cheapo pine 2x4 to the back of my pretty 1x4. It won't be seen, adds strength, and saved me some cash. I glued the pretty 1"x4" to the 2"x4". Put the pretty side out.

Now drill more pocket holes and screw them into place. This is what will hold the table together, so don't be shy with the screws.

I also cut another 2"x4" and screwed it into place across the center of the table. This will add strength and help keep the table from sagging a few years down the road.

Step 6: Sand

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Now you'll need to sand. The more time you spend sanding the happier you'll be. Start with a medium 100 or 120 grit paper to smooth everything out, then finish with 220 grit or higher. Keep in mind that end grains, (the edge of the board) tend to be rougher and soak up stain. Spend extra time on the ends to make sure they'll take their color evenly.

Now is when you get to summon your inner interior decorater. The distressed look is popular right now. This involves chipping, gouging, denting, and otherwise maiming your beautiful project. (I didn't do this). You may also choose to use wood filler to fill in any small gaps. (I did do this). If you choose to use filler and are staining the table you have 2 choices. You can get a stainable filler and put it on BEFORE you finish your wood, or you can choose a filler dyed to match the stain and do it afterwards.

Step 7: Finish

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I won't spend much time here because there are so many options. You can stain, varnish, paint, oil, wax, or none of the above. There are so many options. Decide what look you want and go for it... It's also a good idea to keep a couple of the scraps around and try the stain on those before going after the table. Make sure you like the look before you go after the table.

That being said, here is what I did.

1. Used a pre stain conditioner. I highly recommend this, especially if you are working with a soft wood (like pine) or a wood that doesn't stain evenly.

2. Stain. I used a Minwax dark walnut gel stain. You brush it on, wait about 3 minutes, and wipe it off.

3. Minwax paste wax. I chose not to finish the wood with any kind of sealer. I would normally recommend it, but 100 years ago, a table would have gotten rubbed with beeswax and put to use. I'm hoping that I can get some of that wear over time as well. We'll see what happens. If it doesn't wear well, I'll strip the wax and apply a clear polyurathane sealer.
captianoats (author) 2 years ago
Check out the wifey on http://kieffercollective.blogspot.com/ won't guarantee the cow is step by step, but she is an interior designer and has lots of pretty ideas like that.
sparus9 months ago

Well done. Looks great.

Did you fill the pocket holes? If not you may try those:

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lannis89 made it!1 year ago

This was my first big woodworking project and it couldn't have been simpler. I made a few alterations to my personal liking but most of the table remained the same. Thank you for the instructions.

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captianoats (author) 1 year ago
It's just for looks. If I ever boils another one I'll probably leave them out as well.

Thanks for the instructions on how to build this table! However I have a question- I've seen a lot of tables have these (2) 1x8 end pieces for the table top. I like the look better without them and just extending the 1x6's. Is there a purpose for them or is it just for aesthetics? Thanks!!

captianoats (author) 2 years ago
I glued the legs plus built the table top on day one. Let the glue dry overnight, cut legs to size and put together day two. I put the stain on day two, let t dry overnight and waxed day 3. Maybe 8 hours total, would be faster next time (I kind of made this up as I went along)
Beautiful table! Question for you: are the legs only attached to the top with glue? I might have missed that step but didn't see it. Thanks!
claudg19502 years ago
The painting is beautiful, the table is wonderful. Great job.
Of course, you are aware that this is not a Parsons table (though one could use this metod in building one...)
I'm sure that you are also aware that "experts" would advise you against adding the two transverse end pieces to the table top. Since wood contracts and expands far more in the 90 degrees direction from grain than it does along the wood grain, the two end pieces are preventing the others from "moving" following changes in room temperature and humidity (so in time, experts would say, the top segments would become unglued).
I´m hooked with your pocket jig.
CaptCheryl2 years ago
That is one beautiful table.
hgarmorer2 years ago
Great table, and it seems fairly "simple" to do. Looks like the pocket jig is a pretty great investment. To the box store I go! Thank you for this.
chaosrob2 years ago
Nice table. Can't wait to see the matching chairs. For the table top, use less expensive wood for the bottom and that 'real' nice peice for the surface (aka Veneer) My wife has a table that only has an oak veneer of like 1/32 inch on it (I know this because I accidentally 'chipped' it when I moved it... opps).
blkhawk2 years ago
More than a practical project, it is also a beautiful work of art!
ianmi2 years ago
Love the MOO MOO painting, where's the Instructable on that?
fretted2 years ago
Thats a darn nice table how long did it take to build all together including staining time ?
poofrabbit2 years ago
I enjoy the table, but your wife's painting sucked me in, I'm glad you shared who made it! Love it, and a great instructable!