Table Expansion for Dinner Guests




Introduction: Table Expansion for Dinner Guests

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first ...

Tonight we have dinner guests and will use a table on the patio. It normally seats six. We need to seat twelve at this table.

Materials required:

+one sheet 3/4 x 48 x 96 inch chipboard
+1/4 inch dowel rod
+two 1 x 2 x 51 inch pine connecting rails
+six 1/4 x 20 Tee nuts
+six 1/4 x 20 x 1 1/2 inch bevel head screws


dowel jig and dowel centers
drill and bit
marker pen

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Step 1: Our Better Table

What this Instructable demonstrates is usually used on this better table inside.

Step 2: The Pieces

The sheet of chipboard has been cut into three equal pieces. You can also see the two connecting rails from solid pine (1 x 2 x 51 inches).

Step 3: Rounding the Corners

Use a plate or a paint can to scribe an arc on each of the four outer corners and round them with a saber saw.

Step 4: Doweling Tools

I am fortunate to have a Stanley doweling jig. I also use some Craftsman dowel centers. The combination of these two allows me to get holes that align with each other and are true.

Step 5: Drill for Dowels

I placed a dowel about every five to six inches. I rounded the ends of the dowels so they mate more easily with their holes when it is time to set up the table extension. Glue the dowels into one section of the expansion. I marked the pieces with letters so there is no question about which piece mates to which piece. These markings will be hidden under the tablecloth.

Step 6: When Joined

After aligning the dowels with their holes, just lean over the table and pull the sections together. The surface of the table is very smooth when the pieces are joined together. No one's plate rocks when they cut their meat with a knife and fork.

Step 7: Mark Rails

Mark the rails so there is no question later which face contacts the underside of the table and which edge faces inward. This will make the setup faster and easier in the future.

Step 8: Drill and Mark Holes

Place a rail under one edge of the table. Align its center with the center of the middle piece of chipboard. Clamp the rail to the table. Drill a 1/4 inch hole through the chipboard and the rail. Countersink the hole in the chipboard for the screwhead. Add a Tee nut to the rail from below. Drill a hole near to each end of the rail. Countersink and add a Tee nut as before. This insures the screw holes align perfectly. Mark the holes with corresponding numbers further to assist with the setup in the future. The holes in the other rail may not exactly match the holes in the first rail, but this does not matter, since each rail is marked so you know on which side of the table it belongs.

Step 9: Tee Nuts

The Tee nuts are also useful for storing the screws and insuring none of the Tee nuts are lost.

Step 10: Ready for the Tablecloth

Here is the table with the expansion ready for use. You can see it will now seat twelve. Just add a nice tablecloth. When not in use, the pieces store nicely behind a cabinet in a small anteroom. Be careful if storing near to a potential source of water, like a washing machine. Chipboard swells badly when wet and you will need to do some work with a sander after it dries in order to restore the smooth fit on the table's top. (Guess how I know!)

This table expansion sets up in just a few minutes. Guests never suspect they are eating from the top of a home built table expansion.

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    6 Discussions


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I am getting a doweling jig. I've been wrestling around a 4x8 sheet of wood too long. Your solutions solve all my problems. Thanks!

    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for your comment. I have been thinking about an Instructable on a homemade doweling jig, but have not gotten it done yet. Still, Harbor Freight has a decent looking jig for not too much money.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    The way you have the pieces slotting together and then held in place with the connecting rails is very good. How do you ensure that the table top doesn't slide around, though? Probably not so much of an issue with the patio table, but that lovely shiny wood on the dining table would be quite slippery, I would have thought.

    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for commenting. The 48 x 96 inch sheet of chipboard is quite heavy and not prone to move, which is why I cut it into three equal parts for ease of handling. Add to that the weight of the food and place settings, plus people often rest their elbows on the table. It really has never moved. What you so kindly referred to as a lovely shiny wood table is actually a plastic laminate surface (Formica).


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Well, at least I was right about it being shiny! I'd forgotten how heavy chipboard actually was. Thanks for the reply. This might save us from having to buy a new dining table!

    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I think the weight of the chipboard will keep it from moving on your table. If you are concerned about scratches on your table, lay fabric over your table before placing the chipboard sections in place. Some towels might work well. Or, get some of that rubberized fabric they use to keep things on your auto dashboard from slipping and sliding. The nicer table I showed was a relatively inexpensive dining room set when we bought it. After a few months the original painted wood grain finish became gooey in patches. I removed it all with a propane torch and a chisel. Then I matched a Formica sample to the leaf and ordered most of a full sheet of Formica. I laid it out and cut the Formica so the grain pattern runs continuously through the leaf and applied the pieces of Formica to the table. It would make a great Instructable, except that I cannot "rewind that tape" to demonstrate it very well. Anyway, I would be pleased if this saves you the cost of a new table. We do not use it often, but it sure is handy when we do. One of our guests from last evening wants her husband to make one of these for her. She has an older table not quite large enough for some meals she serves.