I made this 8.5' X 4' dining table from reclaimed 2X10s, a pair of old lathe legs and some steel. I wanted to do the woodworking "zero-emission" (with no electric tools) but I did use a skill saw to save a little time and a power sander for a final sanding. Other than that the whole top was made by hand with only hand tools.
Watch the video for more information. I talk in this one, too ;-)
If you do not have metal working tools, You could make a wood base with only hand saws, planes and chisels or mount the top to metal legs without the trim and cross bracing. But to do the metal work, all you need is a drill, welder and angle grinder.
Before I did anything, I carefully inspected the wood for nails (of course I missed a few) and wire brushed the loose dirt off. Dirt is also a tool-killer as it consists of rocks and metal particles.
Some of the nails are kind of impossible to get out, so I just drive them in deeper, instead.
Step 1: Edge Jointing
First step is to clean up all the edges of the boards that will get glued together. there are many electric tools you can use to do this or just hand planes and patience.
I admit on one particularly uneven board I used a straight edge and a skill saw to clean it up before planing it flat.
to get good glue edges with a planer requires patience and a little elbow grease but is not difficult. Simply try to make the side of the board as flat and smooth as you can. Look for high spots and remove them. Be careful to apply even pressure along the edge as you plane so you don't make it uneven from top to bottom.
A straight edge or level helps you visualize any flaws and chalk is a god tool for quickly marking material that needs to be removed.
Once the edges fit together, you can glue them to each other. Even though it will be dry enough to work in a couple hours, I like to give it a good 12 -24 hours to cure for large things like this.
Step 2: Make the Top Flat
Now you have your rectangle, but it is no where near flat on top.
I like to put a little paste wax on my planes to lubricate them. I also screw scraps of wood to my bench to act as a fence to push against while planing.
Again there are machines you could use to do this (prior to glue-up) but I find by hand planing the wood to a surface that is "flat enough" vs. obsessing over a perfect table top is the way to go with reclaimed wood, to keep as much of the character of the wood present.
This is a LOT f work, but can be fun and rewarding if you have the right attitude about it.
A good technique is to plane at 45 degree angles to the grain and boards in both directions to really cut away a lot of the wood. Work the highest spots first. Once you get it to "flat enough" go over the whole table in the direction of the grain to smooth out all the marks you made. You can use a smaller smoothing planer for this or use the same plane you were using but adjust the cut a little finer.
Step 3: Square It Up and Finish
I like to save cutting the final dimensions of the table till the end, s I always cut the boards a little longer than needed and square it up when I'm near finished. I use a straight edge and skill saw to make the edges even.
I also used a palm sander to finish sand the top, but if you're good with sharpening hand planes and scrapers (unlike me!) this is unnecessary.
The customer wanted a light stain and tung oil finish. Both of which are easy to apply.
Step 4: Metal Edge Banding
Here's where the traditionalists and zero-emissions folks can stop, but I created a 3/16" steel band around the edge. I cut the pieces to length, drilled holes in it to house oversized bolts and regular size nails then welded them in the corners.
I used the small holes to nail the band to the table all the way around. Once in place, I drilled large holes to place decorative industrial bolts into the edge of the table. I used a little construction adhesive to hold them still.
Step 5: The Base
The customer provided lathe legs for the job which are a little undersized for this table. To make them less wobbly and add girth, I created a trestle-style base by simply adding three, 6-foot long 3/4" black pipe cross bars.
The cast iron legs are difficult to drill. I decided the best way to attach these was to weld 1/2" nuts inside the pipe and run the bolts through the legs. The threaded end of the pipe isn't long enough to get bolts on both sides of it to make it tight.
That's how I made this table. I hope you like it.