Dining Table on the Cheap




Introduction: Dining Table on the Cheap

First Dining Table & Benches

Dining table and matching benches made by one person, two weekends, common tools, builder grade lumber and about $150.

Goal: Design a table using reclaimed or otherwise cheap lumber and parts, simple in design, sturdy, and able to take the abuse of 5 kids for years to come. Additionally, a design that will be easy to disassemble, move, and reassemble with out bolts and screws stripping wood out.

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Step 1: Step One: Determine Size and Use

Determine the number of people you wish to set total. This table measures 94 ⅜” long x 43 ¼” wide x 30 ½” tall allowing 8 larger people (3 each side and one on each end) or 10 average sized people or children (4 each side and one on each end). Additionally, and later on in the instructions cuts were made underneath to accept a slide in extension allowing 14” more inches on each end thus allowing 4 additional seats comfortably. So, by simply adjusting the lengths and widths of stated materials, the design could easily be decreased for smaller areas or larger if one wants.

Step 2: Step Two: Source Materials.

Bolts 4” x ⅜ (22)

Washers ⅜ (44)

Nuts ⅜ (22)

Lag Bolts 3 ½” x ⅜ (12)

Wood Screws 2” (Lots guessing maybe 120 depending on how you use them)

2” x 4” x 8’ (10) Table Skirt and cross members (again, simply how you spread them out).

4” x 4” Legs & Cross Member (5)

2” x 8” x 10’ Table Top, Bread Boards, and Bench Tops Stain Clear Coat Sanding Paper Plainer (Electric or Hand) Burner (optional but will bring out the grain if used)

Step 3: Step Three: Skirt and Cross Members for the Table Top and Benches.

Frame the skirt and cross members out. The benches are simply scaled down versions of the table, same materials, same design, same bolts, screws and so on. The only difference is size and in my case, I cut notches out of the benches to allow the benches to scoot up another 3 inches under the table on each side thus 6” extra walking space around the table. One could cut the bunches short enough to fit between the legs on each corner and be able to hide the entire bench on each side but sacrifice the end seats if needed.

The notches are totally optional. I placed them there so I can add an extension but if you have no desire to add more, skip that part. Brace the corners and make sure all is square.

Step 4: Step Four: Table Top and Bread Boards

Pre-drill pocket holes about every 10”-14” on one edge on each board.
Attach boards to each other. To get things as even as possible, I used scrap wood on the top and bottom of the boards strapped down using a ratchet strap around the whole table top to hold them tighter together and keep aligned. I went left to right adjusting as I went. After ensuring the ends were even, attached the bread boards in the same fashion. Sorry not pictures for this one. Pre-drill pocket holes on the skirt and cross members. Place the skirt on the bottom of the assembled top, square up, and attach.

Step 5: Step 5: Legs and Cross Members.

Cut the 4” x 4”’s to length. (4 legs, 1 long cross member end to end, two cross members side to side - Table) (6 legs, 4 cross members side to side - bench).

Notch the tops of each table leg so the 2” x 4” of the skirt can drop right in. Notch the bottom of each table leg on the inside roughly 2” deep so a 4 “ x 4” can fit into it. Repeat on the bench. Cut away in a L shape 2” in and 2” down on each end of the long cross member on the same side. Cut away a 2” notch in top/center of the side to side cross member. The table should be able to be assembled and stand on its own now.

Step 6: Step Six: Holes.

Square up the table and clean out any final shavings out of the table notches.

I used some hand clamps, a square, level, and a tape measure to check and double check. ⅜ drill bit, two holes on the top of each leg all the way through. ⅜ drill bit, pilot hole on the outside of each leg into the notch area and inserted cross member. ⅜ drill bit, through the top of the long end to end cross member and out the bottom of the side to side cross member.

Step 7: Step Seven: Burn.

I used a propane burner from Lowes and my propane tank for the burn, took about 5 minutes.
In a safe place, put a light burn on all exposed parts of the table. I have found, don't worry about going too dark because it will lighten up a bit once you sand it.

Step 8: Step Eight: Level Off and Sand.

I used a plainer to even out some low and high places on the table top prior to sanding. Knowing the wood was soft, kids destroy things, and this was a cheap project to begin with I rounded all edges and created some imperfections to add a little age and distress to cover what my kids will do.

Step 9: Step Nine: Marriage Marks.

In my case, I did not measure many things and had no intention to especially where the bolts went. As long as they fit where I put them, I was good so I carved out marriage marks on each joint on the table so when we move, only one leg will go in one place in one way and there is no guessing.

Step 10: Step Ten: Finish.

Stain and Paint.
At this point, the table should kind of look like a table. I painted all the bolts and washers black and then applied the first coat of stain, sand and repeat as much as you like. Clear coat, light sand and repeat as much as you want.

Assemble table. The table will consist of a total of 4 parts (top, two leg sets, and 1 cross member). You will find the bolts allow the table to be put together and taken apart as many times as you like without wearing anything out except maybe the bolt itself. I added one additional coat of clear coat to go over the table, all the bolts, and any small cracks in the table top just to even it all out.


On each end I added a bottle top opener just for fun.

Each bench was notched out allowing another 6" total walk space around the table (3" on each side). As mentioned before, one could easily shorten the benches and they will hide 100% under the table when not in use. The benches are kind of heavy and to ease such I put furniture pads under each of the legs and problem solved.

Leveling the table on your floor may be easier said than done. Even if the table is 100% square, your floor may not. I added adjustable felt tip feet to each leg of the table and the benches and problem solved.

Overbuild. Some may say there was a little overbuilding here but such was done for two reasons. First of all, there was no glue used in any part of this table. Secondly, using builders grade pine, I felt there may be some memory left in it and may warp once in the house after a few weeks or months. To combat that I added a few extra screws and braced it up as a just in case. So far and after a year, no problems and this table has to be about the strongest places in my house to hide in an earth quake.

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    7 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago

    How did you attach the boards together for the table top? Are they nailed into the frame beneath? Or some other method?


    Reply 1 year ago

    I actually used pocket holes on the table top and secured the top to the skirt with more pocket holes and screws. First, I put in pocket holes on all the board and then used ratchet straps and some scrap board to hold the top together when I put the screws in. I did not use any glue, just a bunch of screws. We just moved and it was simple to move. Minus the top itself, I used bolts to hold the table together so if you move or something over time screws strip the wood out, here no problem with that. For the most part, the table will set without the bolts at all due to the way the legs and cross member are notched to fit.


    3 years ago

    I LOVE this. In New Orleans we were visiting a VERY WEALTHY friend and I saw his table, very very much like this one. I climbed under it and looked for authenticity marks from a Table that would have been in a King's private Dining room or Kitchen around 1500ADor so I just loved being under there so much I forgot to look and just zoned out. It could well have been, but so could yours! It is perfect! This is not Palletwood furniture. You've surpassed that by far. Thousands!


    3 years ago

    In the coming days I will post my desk as well. Same platform, materials but just a little smaller with a drawer and a hidden cable management system.


    3 years ago

    This is great, thanks.


    3 years ago

    Props, nice table!

    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    That is a really nice looking table. I really like DIY tables because you can make it perfectly fit your room.