Introduction: Formal Dining Table

After moving into a new house this summer my family needed a formal dining table for the upcoming and esteemed holiday of Thanksgiving. Since all my fun money went to the new house and I needed a long formal dinning table, I drew up some plans to make one of my own for under $200 in materials. So, I set to the internet to find a salvageable table in my local area with table legs that would fit my needs. It took some searching but I finally found one. As a long time viewer on instructables, I took pictures along the way hoping to write my own for this build. This instructable is the story of what happened next...

Step 1: Salvage What You Can

This project began with salvaging 4 table legs, hardware, and 4 table corner braces from a well used table that had seen better days.

Step 2: Build the Skirt: Measure, Cut & Chop!

Building the table skirt will require you to decide on measurements for your table. Since I started with a plan to build a table with a top that was 8 feet long and 3 feet wide, the skirt will need to be smaller than this. I wanted minimum overhang between the table top and skirt, so I planned the measurements for the skirt to produce a table top with about a 2 inch overhang all around.

You have 3 key measurements to decide on for the table skirt; I have labelled these A, B, and C. For this table the measurements for the skirt were: A:86" , B:26" , & C:3".

Skirt Materials: I used highest quality wood that I could find at the local big box stores that fit my budget, so select pine was the wood of choice. Each piece was meticulously inspected and chosen for inclusion. As I do not have access to any planer or jointer, I chose each piece wisely. I needed 1"x4" pieces were 8 feet long.

Skirt Action: Find out how tall you need the sides of the skirt to be, this is measurement C. I decided to make these match the top portion of the salvaged table legs evenly. Once you have this measurement, rip your 1x4's with a table saw, in this case it was 3 inches even.

Once you have the sides of the table skirt ripped to size, chop each piece to length. This is where measurements A & B come out to play. If you did your cutting right you should only have to lightly sand the side pieces after your cuts.

Some Assembly Required: Now that you have your skirt ready, have it join forces with the table legs, hardware, and corner braces from the salvaged table. Take your time to ensure the tops of your legs and skirt pieces are level and even. Using wood glue along with the salvaged screws on the skirt pieces and the corner braces is an excellent idea. The table legs bolt in place via the corner braces.

Step 3: Primer and Paint

Since there is no sure way to have the salvaged legs match the wood of your custom skirt, you will want to paint the base of your table

Controlled Mess: Start by sanding your table legs and skirt for proper paint adhesion. Then take your table skirt with legs attached somewhere paint friendly, like outside. I choose a simple white spray on primer, so the dark wood legs and light pine table skirt would require even layers of the final paint.

After letting the primer thoroughly dry, I painted the table using an crème white chalk paint. This color decision was so that the table base would match the dining chairs destined to accessorize this table.

Step 4: Top It Off!

Top Measurements: 8x3 feet table top, but ended up being a little different for convenience.

Top Materials: Select Pine was chosen once again as the material for the table top. I decided upon 1x8 that were 8 feet in length. Again, each piece was meticulously inspected and chosen only if it was absolutely perfect. I took my time and after multiple trips to the big box stores in the area I found 5 pieces that would work with minimum deviation. 1x8's are not actually 8 inches wide, they are about 7.25 inches wide - so, 5 pieces got me 36.25" for the table top. This was perfect.

Top Assembly: I assembled the table top by using pocket hole screws. 10 pocket holes were drilled for each joinery and screws attached each board to one another. I used 1 1/4" inch pocket hole screws to assemble to top. Take your time to ensure that each board is as level as can be when attaching the 1x8's together. This is not the strongest option, but for this application it is perfect.

Make the Length Work: The select pine 1x8s were all about 96 inches long, but deviated in length slightly. So, after assembly I marked a straight line on each end with a straight edge and then cut 1/4 an inch off of each end following that straight line with a circular saw.This brought the overall length of the top to 95.5".

Sand: After assembling the top sand the 1x8's until you have a smooth and flat finish. I used a large T square to check for high and low spots. Use a belt sander for the majority of the sanding and switch to a palm sander or hand sanding as needed. Once you are happy, thoroughly clear the table top of all sawdust.

Step 5: Stain and Finish

Stain: Apply your favorite stain using your favorite method. I used a dark walnut stain on the table top to match and complement other furniture in the dining room. I used a foam brush to apply 1 coat of stain to the tabletop, 1 coat worked for my purposes, but yours may need more than 1.

Poly: Next, I applied 2 coats of polyurethane, sanding with 220 sandpaper between coats.

*Important - follow the instructions for the stain and finish, doing so actually helps. Seriously, at least read them.

Step 6: Docking the Table Top

Now that your tabletop is stained and finished and your base is painted, you can attach the two forever.

Table Assembly: Once the top is on the base, use a tape measure or ruler to ensure the overlap is even all around the table. I ended up with a 2" overlap on the sides of the table and about 1.5" overlap on the ends. I assembled the table top and base together using 1" pocket hole screws. The pocket holes were drilled on the inside of the table skirt and made final assembly super easy.

Step 7: Admire and Decorate Your Hard Work

If you are like me, it helps to have someone in your life that is good at the decorating part...Thanks!

Tables and Desks Contest 2016

Participated in the
Tables and Desks Contest 2016