Modern Dining Table




Introduction: Modern Dining Table

About: Maker on YouTube. Helping others break barriers to making by inspiring and informing.

This time I show how to make a simple modern dining table. This elegant table has a cherry top riding on an X shaped walnut base featuring brass pins!

My next post will be on making the chairs shown in the final photos, so make sure to follow me if you want to catch that when it comes out.

You can pre-order plans for this table here at a 25% discount, the price will go up when they are published. Or consider pre-ordering the plan bundle for the table and chairs here!

This instructable contains affiliate links.

Step 1: Gather Material

The material list for this one is really short!

  • 30bf of 4/4 (1" thick) cherry (or whatever wood you want the top to be)
  • 20bf of 6/4 (1.5" thick) walnut (or whatever you want for the base)
  • 2' of 1/4" brass rod

The main tools I used for this build was a:

Step 2: Mill the Material

I’m building this table for a client, so sorting through this lumber my priority is getting the clearest most premium pieces possible instead of trying to maximize yield which is my normal approach. That makes my first step marking any defects in the lumber to work around them and then breaking everything down into more manageable pieces.

The milling process is the same as always. I start at the jointer to get a straight edge and flat face, rip the opposite edge at the table saw, and then plane the opposite face at the planer. Then I let it sit over night, and do it again.

Dried lumber has a lot of tension in it and almost every time you cut into you change the balance of the tension and the wood will move. Because of that, the best way to get straight and flat boards that stay that way is to mill it to over several days and sneak up on the final dimension you need. I have found that three milling sessions over three to five days produces really stable lumber.

Step 3: Assemble the Table Top

To get the best possible glue edge I like to hand plane the edges before gluing. I do this in pairs and compare the edges that will be glued to make sure they have the best fit.

The trick to a good glue up is to rehearse it. I dry clamp everything so all my clamps are set, then break it down and apply glue and clamp it all back together.

I like to glue up large panels in small sections, and then glue those together to keep the process manageable. The other trick to a good panel glue up is the right amount of pressure. Too little and the glue won’t bond well, too much and the panel will turn out like a Pringle.

Step 4: Square the Ends of the Table Top

Once the panel dries, I cut the ends square and the whole thing down to length using my circular saw and a straight edge.

If you have a track saw, that would work well too.

Step 5: Cut the Stretcher Joinery

Now I can lay out where the base will sit so I can copy the angle of the intersection to start cutting the half laps on the stretchers, after I cut them to length and mark their middle. An off cut that’s the same thickness as the stretchers helps to precisely mark out the cut location.

I use the bevel gauge again to set my miter gauge to the right angle and then sneak up on the cuts. The dado stack hogs out the material, but isn’t tall enough to remove all the material. So after getting all I can on the table saw, I pull out my shoulder plane and tune the half lap until it’s perfect.

Step 6: Make the Base to Top Joinery

Next I mark and make the holes for the bolts that’ll hold the base to the table top. These are elongated to allow the table top to move during the seasons, otherwise the top would rip itself from the base when it expands in the summer.

I drill out most of the waste and then chisel out the rest. I use two different sized drill bits to create a counter sink so the bolt head won’t be visible under the table.

I use a salt trick to accurately transfer the holes to the bottom of the table top so I can place some threaded inserts. I’m going with threaded inserts and bolts instead of screws incase this table has to be broken down and moved, the inserts and bolts will last longer and there won’t be any worry of the holes stripping out.

Step 7: Taper the Bottom of the Stretchers

Now is a good time to put the taper on the bottom of the stretchers.

I do this after drilling the holes and cutting the half laps because both of those operations would have been challenging with a taper on one side.

To make sure both stretchers are identical I make a jig for my router. But before routing the stretchers, I remove most of the waste at the bandsaw to make the routing go easier.

Step 8: Make the Legs

The first thing I do to make the legs is make a template. These legs are angled which means they have to be longer than the height, instead of messing around with triangle math, I use a drywall and framing square to find the length. All I care about is that when these are standing up the top is 29 1/4” off the ground.

Then I mark out the taper that’ll be on the inside of the legs and make a tapering jig for my table saw to cut all the legs identically. The jig is just some plywood scraps with CA glue, brad nails, and some toggle clamps.

Once the template is done, I use it to mark the legs out of the blanks. The pieces overlap on the blank, so I break them down on the bandsaw.

To cut to length I set up the stop on my miter station with an offcut featuring a matching angle to the legs. Then I cut the first angle on the leg, slide it to the stop, and cut the leg to length. Now they’re ready to go on the tapering jig and get run through the table saw.

Step 9: Join the Stretchers and Legs

With the stretchers and the legs at their final size I can move on to cutting the half laps to join them. I mark each joint individually just incase there are any differences between the pieces to get the best fit.

My exacto knife leaves a thinner line than a pencil, so I tape each piece, clamp them together and score the tape where the cut needs to be. I like this technique because it gives me a precise and obvious boundary.

I use my bevel gauge to transfer the angle from the tape to the miter gauge. It’s time for the dado stack to hog out the material, I stop just shy of the line so the joint will be a bit proud. Then I switch to handle planes and sneak up on the perfect fit before gluing the legs and stretchers together.

Step 10: Finishing Touches

To reinforce and accent these joints I am going to install some brass pins. I make a template to mark the brass pin locations on the joints then drill them out at the drill press. Before gluing the pins in I scuff them with sandpaper to get a better glue bond. Some blue tape helps keep the epoxy off the wood.

The last finishing touch is a bevel on the underside of the table top to give it a lighter look. I do this in three passes with my router to get the best finish.

Step 11: Sand and Finish

Then I go through my sanding regime of 120, 150, and 220 grit, popping the grain with water between each grit. A tack cloth removes any dust and I can start applying the finish.

I did three coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal on this, sanding and wiping with 400 grit sand paper between each coat.

Step 12: Enjoy!

Now it's all done! All that's left is to invite some friends over, make a nice meal, and enjoy it at your beautiful new table. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this!

If you really enjoyed this and would like to support me so I can produce more content like this for you for free, please consider checking out my Patreon.

Don't forget that you can pre-order plans for this table here at a 25% discount, the price will go up when they are published. Or consider pre-ordering the plan bundle for the table and chairs here, also at a 25% discount!

This instructable contains affiliate links.

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    10 Discussions


    Question 8 months ago on Step 1

    hi fancy making this table but could not understand your cutting list


    9 months ago

    Now that it's been a while, have you noticed any "ill effects" by NOT making breadboard ends? Everything I read about making dining tables says the boards will cup and warp and your table will not be stable etc. I don't know if I buy that...I've seen many "factory built" tables without breadboard ends and they seem stable, but a lot of time it's hard to tell if they are solid wood or not. Appreciate any feedback on this.


    Reply 9 months ago

    Most of what I've seen in furniture stores are vinyl wrapped particle board... but that said, I haven't seen any issues without breadboards. I think there's a few reasons for this. Furniture making is a hobby, not a life requirement anymore.. so we build with dried lumber that's already at equilibrium with an indoor environment. Modern finishes when applied correctly help slow moisture exchange with the wood. And climate controlled homes provide a more stable environment for furniture so it no longer experiences the full change of the seasons. Breadboards on tables predate all of those. These days if your table top is warping, it's because the wood wasn't dry or it wasn't properly milled. It's not uncommon for wood to have tension that requires it to be milled over several days. Remove some material, let the wood move, get it flat again, see if it moves.. until it stays flat. Taking a rough board that was sawn flat, then dried into a warped shape, removing 25%+ of the wood and gluing it up hoping it won't move again.. is going to lead to disappointment.


    Reply 9 months ago

    Thanks for the reply!


    2 years ago on Step 12

    Wonderful design and finish!


    2 years ago

    Nicely done! Subscribed!


    2 years ago

    Very nice! I love the skirtless look, and this all came together very pleasingly. Well done!


    Reply 2 years ago

    That you very much, that’s very kind!