This will be a series of a few blog posts to try to document my dining room table build. I’m doing this to try to share back to those maybe building something similar since I used a lot of resources myself to figure out techniques. I’m a novice woodworker and this was one of my more complicated projects. It’s likely some of the things I’ve done are not the best and you should definitely look at other resources as well. This is not a step-by-step How To. I’m just going to show the steps I took with some brief descriptions. Hopefully, it can help others with ideas the same way I got ideas from my own searches. I’ve put in links to others’ pages where I used them for background or specific technical How To info.
Here’s my end result…
This table is 40″x80″ without the leaves and then has two 15″ leaves taking it to a maximum of 40″x110″ with both leaves. Without leaves, it will comfortably seat six; two on each side and one on each end. When fully extended, you can do four per side, without a lot of extra room. If it’s family, with a couple of kids, you can cram 12 around this thing, though that’s really not at all ideal.
- Original Inspiration was from Ana White’s Super Helpful Site:
- Triple Pedestal Farmhouse Table – This is the main model for this build.
- Notice the sides on the top of the table. When you look at the plans, you can see this is all just attached together in a kind of frame. My concern with this, (as I describe below), is that this doesn’t allow for wood movement. Now the great part about this design as it’s shown is they say you can build this for $125. Which is probably true with big box lumber. So for what I ended up paying for nice Red Oak I could build about 10 of these. In which case, it wouldn’t matter than much if it broke every five years or so.
- Anyway, here are some other similar styles on the Ana White site.
- Triple Pedestal Dining Table
Trestle Table with Mahogany Top
- Also, I’d seen this table at a store called World Market. It’s called the Mahogany Verona Trestle Table. And it was under $600. About half the cost of the wood alone for what I was going to do. However, it kind of just felt cheap. It worked well enough. But had thin veneer. It just wasn’t solid wood.Notice how how the bottom of the legs have the triangle braces. This is different than the Ana White site design with the arches. For our decor, I decided on this style. (That’s the really fun part about making your own stuff. You can pick and choose what you want to do.)
- If you’re a novice DIY woodworker and haven’t been to Ana White’s site, you have to go. Lots of plans, tips, good ideas, etc.
- I’ve heavily modified both the design and some of the techniques. As much as I enjoy Ana’s site, some of the techniques were such that I didn’t find them adequate for this build. For example, while I love my Kreg pocket hole joinery tools, for a table this large I was concerned about expansion / contraction of boards over time. Pocket hole joinery does not necessarily account for this. You need ideas like breadboards and maybe drawboring of these ends to keep boards flat and still allow for expansion. I learned this from online research and I’ll point out more about this as I go.
- I’ve also modified items to allow me to break down components. That is, instead of using screws, I’ve used bolts and threaded inserts in a variety of places. This lets me unscrew and take the table apart. I did this both so I could get this giant table into my house, but also so that if we ever move I can also easily break it down and get it out.
I used the free Sketchup program to try to design my own table using the ideas from the designs I’d found online with various components that I liked. I’m going to include the plans here. However, (and this is a BIG however), I didn’t go all the way here. I got the basic design down and then went at it. If I was better at Sketchup or had more time to learn the program more fully, I’d have included every little piece including the bolts and the draw bore holes and so on. But I didn’t. So if you use this plan, just be aware that it’s design directional only. You’ll need to lock down your own dimensions. If you’re really good at Sketchup and update the plans, please let me know and share them back and I’ll update them here.
Oh, and I’ve changed the dimensions for my build as well. If you use the Sketchup file, please just do so as a base starting out model. It’s far from complete.
The Sketchup file
Some More Design Help
The Basic Design
Again, the basic design is based on:
Triple Pedestal Farmhouse Table
While I’ve heavily modified the design and used different build techniques at various points, it will be much easier to follow what I’ve done if you have those instructions up in another browser tab or print them out.
Let’s Begin with the Legs!
My wood came from Rings End in Darien, CT. Decent lumberyard with some good options for hardwoods. This will be all Red Oak. Since I don’t own a jointer or planer, I need to really sort though some boards to get the best I can find. And actually, I sort of have a jointer in that I can set up my router table for jointing. (More on that later.) But I still don’t have a thickness planer. So the width has to be really close as hand planing or sanding will be my only options for minor adjustments.
Here we go…
I’m going to slice up 2×6 Red Oak to start building the legs. This is expensive stuff!
Now, a 45 degree bevel cut for the ends of the ‘inside’ portions of the leg tops and bottoms.
So far, so good. Gee, all of the rest of this will just be easy. (Uh huh. Right.)
For the ‘outside’ portions of the leg tops and bottoms, I used a 30 degree bevel, per the instructions.
Then I laminated these sections together using biscuits on the outside edges. You don’t necessarily need a biscuit joiner for this. Dowels or Domino or anything to line up the parts will work. Worst case, you can just carefully do it by hand and clamp them. But this can get dicey and things can slip around if not really careful. I thought it best to use biscuit joinery here.
All dry now. I’ll sand and soften the edges later. Right now, I figure I’m going to bang these things up a bit by accident, so no need to start doing any finishing work at this point.
I’ve somehow lost / deleted the pictures of the build for the vertical components of the legs. Please see the plans linked above. Basically, it’s pretty simple though. You just have to measure how big you want the center hole to be for the stretcher. In fact, it’s better not to really measure at all. At least, not with a ruler or tape measure. Just use the actual board you’re using for the stretcher. It’s ok if you’re going to sand or plane the edges just a bit as this shouldn’t be a super tight fit. Snug yes, super tight, no. That would just make it harder to insert and allow no room for any movement that does occur. I’ve got maybe a 1/16″ difference here and that’s plenty of play for assembly / disassembly, and yet maintain fine stability when together.
So I’m going to skip ahead and show what the vertical portions look like once they’re all attached. Then we’ll come back and look at how I put them together.
OK, so between the original plans and the picture, it should be easy enough to put together the vertical components of the legs. They’re just glued up and clamped together. But attaching them to the horizontal components of the legs is a bit more complicated. In the instructions and in some other builds I’ve seen, people have just glued things together. Or glued and screwed these components. I didn’t feel this was adequate. My concern is that twisting loads on these components could create bending moments that could overload simple glue joints, (even though I know glue is incredibly strong if done correctly.) And basic screws? I don’t know, maybe I overthought this. But I decided to sink a 1/4″ recess / mortise into the base, then use a bunch of glue, and bed bolts as mechanical security. After this treatment… These aren’t going anywhere. Ever.
I got the bed bolts from Lee Valley. A set of four was $16.50 from Lee Valley. I’m sure you can get these a lot of places, and much cheaper. But to me, this is a key structural component and safety issue for a major part of this table and wanted to go with a quality supplier I trust. Chances are a steel bolt is a steel bolt. And I kind of over engineered these legs anyway. But, well… there you go.
To create this hole, I built a template for my router and used a guide bushing along with a straight bit to dig out the hole. The trick to this is just the same as with many router efforts. Make shallow cuts and just repeat them until you reach your target depth. I used heavy duty double sided carpet tape to attach the template to the horizontal leg components. Lee Valley has been nice enough to post instructions on how to make router template guides.
When I make a jig like this, I like to label it with the details for sizes of bits, or whatever other issues might be important for repeated parts manufacturing. Especially if this jig happens to sit someplace for a year or two or five before being used again. I may never use it again. But unless I’m pressed for room, there’s no need to toss it out after going to the effort of making it.
I used the recess and bolt technique for both top and bottom. Which means you also have to account for the 1/4″ recess top and bottom when calculating the length of the vertical portions of the leg to make sure the overall height is going to be correct. Also, it’s really important, as with all things, to make sure these parts fit squarely. I did a pretty good job making these square recesses. But on one side I must have been tightening down on the bed bolt and twisted the vertical portion of the leg a little. And I mean just a little. As in it’s so small no one will notice and it wouldn’t affect attachment of the sliders or anything else. But it was a screw up and if it had been worse, undoing this particular mistake would have been really costly in both time and $$$. (Because I’m not sure a proper fix could have been made and I might have had to re-do the whole component set and assembly; without explaining to my wife why one side of the table’s legs cost an extra $100.)
So very much left to go, but just for fun I immediately laid the extension slides on the legs to see how this could start to come together. These are from TableLegs.com and are equalizer sliders. So they’ll open from the center such that both table ends will widen simultaneously leaving room for leaves in the center.
For the next parts, I deviated from the plans a bit. For starters, you can see the dowel that I used to plug up the hole where the bed bolt is tightened. In other words, this issn’t coming apart again. Next, I added some angled supports. This is part structural, part aesthetic. It probably wasn’t even needed for structural support, but why not? They were done with basic 45 degree cuts on the 2×4 parts. Then I clamped them in place to drill 3/4″ Forster hole countersinks, followed pilot holes for screws. After gluing the ends, I screwed these supports in, and then inserted the dowels. Finally, I flush trimmed the dowel ends.
Here’s how we’re looking with the leg braces in and the stretcher.
That’s mostly it for the bottom portion of the table for now. Still needs work to attach the extension sliders and final sanding, etc. But first it’s time to do the table top.
See Dining Room Table – Dual Trestle and Extension Slides – Part 2 for the next steps; creating the cauls to help make the table top components, and then making the breadboard ends.