How to Make a Dining Room Table by Hand

In this article, we will discuss the various methods of making a dining room table by hand. Then at the end, you’ll find step-by-step instructions on how to make something similar and hopefully better than what can be bought in stores today.

“How to make a dining table” is a great way to save money and make your own furniture. It’s also an excellent way to learn woodworking skills. The instructions are easy to follow, and the end result will be worth it! Read more in detail here: how to make a dining table.

Tuck Oden contributed this guest article as an editor’s note.

If you’re anything like me, you feel a bit humiliated every time you go into a big-box furniture shop. You’re a guy, gazing at some really basic furniture, and you’re being asked to pay a lot of money for a bookcase, dining set, or desk. And if you know enough about wood to recognize laminate and fiberboard, you’ll immediately notice that these pricey pieces of furniture only have a two-year shelf life.

Today, I’d want to show you a project that you can do if you have a few tools, a few weekends, and the guts to try something new. This may be a little ambitious if you’re brand new to woodworking, but if you’ve done a little before, you shouldn’t have too much problem. Keep in mind that I am a novice. I attended shop class in high school and have dabbled with a few little projects, but I’m far from an expert.

My two main tools are a 10′′ Craftsman Table Saw and a 10′′ Craftsman Radial Arm Saw.

The final product is a dining room table that your wife or girlfriend might describe as “Rustic,” “Barn,” or “Ranch Style.” It’s called a man table because it’s built of affordable wood, can take a battering, and will one day be used to serve Thanksgiving meal to your grandchildren’s children. It’s macho to be the guy who created that table. I found a couple comparable tables for approximately $1200 on Craigslist and furniture websites. That’s ridiculous. I spent less than $200 for mine, including the chairs I purchased.

I began by doing searches on the internet for other people who had created their own tables. I began sketching designs based on the photographs and information I had gathered. My table measures around 6’x44′′x31′′. (LxWxH). You may discover that various measurements suit you better (31′′ is rather tall), so make your plans accordingly. I also constructed leaves to extend the table to 8.5′ in length.

Measurement for the size of table.

Autumn Leaves and Everything

What You’ll Require

Let’s get this party started, shall we? This will seem to be lot more costly and difficult than it really is. Do not be alarmed. From start to completion, it took two weeks (while working full-time). What you’ll need is the following:

Tools:

  • *Table Saw – for tearing the legs and leaves to width and cutting the notches.
  • *Cutting to length using a radial arm saw (or, if you plan well, you can get the fellas at Lowes or Home Depot to cut your pieces to length and forgo the radial arm saw).
  • Chipping out the notches with a chisel. A screwdriver with a flathead might also work.
  • Hand-held Belt Sander — you’ll find yourself using this a lot.
  • Drill/Rechargeable Screwdriver — For drilling holes, I used my hefty drill, and for driving screws, I utilized a rechargeable screwdriver.
  • The Pocket-Hole Jig is a must-have. Pocket holes are used in almost every joint on this table.

*You may be able to get away with using a circular saw instead. However, I have no prior experience with them.

 

Misc:

  • We used chains, hammers, screws, sparklers, matches, and everything else that may leave a mark to ‘distress’ the table.
  • Rustoleum Ultimate Wood Stain, Dark Walnut, stain, brushes, and paint thinner However, we made a mistake. Later on, I’ll expand on it…
  • Polyurethane is a kind of polyurethane that is (to protect your finish).
  • For the lag screws and washers, use black spray paint.

Lumber:

We chose low-cost construction-grade material (douglas fir). Your quantities may vary, however bear in mind that they typically come in lengths beginning at 8′:

  • 3 4′′x4′′x8’s
  • 2′′x8′′x8′′x8′′x8′′x8′′x8′′x8′′x8′′x8′′x8
  • 2′′x12′′x12’s –
  • 4 2′′x4′′x8’s

Hardware:

  • 8 3/8′′ x 6′′ Lag Screws (sprayed black)
  • 8 3/8′′ x 3′′ Lag Screws (sprayed black)
  • 16 3/8′′ Washers (black spray-painted)
  • Approximately 100 2 12″ Pocket-Hole Screws
  • Approximately 100 12″ Pocket-Hole Screws
  • ten brackets

Make your plans.

Drawing out your plans is the first stage. It’s worth noting that timber sizes are a fabrication. A 2′′x4′′x8′ is really 1 12″ x 3 12″ x 8′ 11 12″ in every dimension, therefore a 2′′x4′′x8′ is actually 1 12″ x 3 12″ x 8′ 11 12″. Keep this in mind when you make your plans.

Drawing blueprints is a great approach to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. Draw them from every aspect you can think of and plan out how you’ll make each cut and junction.

Drawing table measurements on grid paper.

Top

Drawing for top and bottom view of table on grid paper.

Views of the rail-to-leg butt junction from the top and bottom. Don’t guffaw. That’s how it’s referred to.

A Few Points to Consider:

  • Per place setting, allow roughly 23′′-30′′ in breadth.
  • Allow 12′′ for each place setting, plus 6′′-20′′ for the table center.
  • Keep in mind the size of your dining room: there should be at least 32 inches between the backs of each chair and the closest wall or piece of furniture.

Drawing for the base of the table on grid paper.

Side view

Obtain Your Timber

Now that you’ve figured out your ideas, you’ll need to figure out how much timber you’ll need and go get it. Isn’t it true that you have a pickup truck? RIGHT? By glancing along the length of each board, you may check for bows. Get the straightest boards you can locate since bowed wood will cause you a lot of problems.

Wood lumber pieces placed in back of toyota car.

Although it seems to be a lot of wood, the total cost of the material for our table was less than $100.

Prepare Your Wood

The next step is to either have your wood cut by the people at the hardware shop or do it yourself. Make a note of your lengths and get to work!

Cutting off the lumber with wood cutting machines.

With the radial arm saw, I’m ready to take on a 212.

Make a point of labeling each component as you go so you don’t get them mixed up later.

“Measure twice, cut once,” says an ancient woodworking proverb that I like disregarding. To be honest, I don’t measure twice and cut three times. It’s something I keep an eye on on a regular basis. I measure what I need to cut using parts I’ve previously cut. It’s a bad habit, but I’d rather not measure everything. And the outcomes are generally not that different. That’s what I tell myself, at least. Because the ends of the 212’s running the length of the table (where they meet the aprons) weren’t precisely the same length, I had to sand them down.

 

Measured pieces of lumber placed on floor.

The length of the pieces is determined by the length of the pieces. Aprons/leaves, tabletop length components, legs/crossbeams, and rails are listed from bottom to top.

Create a tabletop design

It’s time to determine how you want to arrange the pieces for the top now that you’ve cut everything to length. Arrange the pieces to see which order you like. Then turn everything over so you’re staring at the bottom of your soon-to-be-top.

Joining the pieces of wood lumber.

Choosing a seating configuration.

Make sure you’re working on a FLAT SURFACE since your tabletop will only be as flat as the surface you’re working on. To attach all of the components together, drill pocket holes and drive screws into them. While you’re doing this, I suggest clamping everything together. Replace the pieces for your leaves and repeat the procedure.

Drilling pocket holes in the boards for joints.

Pocket holes have been drilled. For each joint, use the 2 12″ pocket-hole screws.

What’s more, guess what? Your top is almost finished. To get rid of any awful inconsistencies or timber print markings, you could wish to utilize a belt sander. Remember that rough patches, knots, and other imperfections will look great with stain, so don’t worry about sanding them away; nevertheless, the natural curves on the side of your table should reach all the way to the aprons.

Construct the Frame

Let’s now concentrate on the frame. Begin by drawing notches for the legs. These should be somewhat larger than the crossbeams. To match the thickness of the crossbeam, I raised mine 3 12″ above the ground.

Thick lumber for the base frame of table.

This is only to show where you’d make a mark on the wood. Before cutting, you’d rotate it once (with the “x” pointing down). Check to see whether your miter gauge is up to the task.

It’s time to start cutting once you’ve marked each piece. Basically, you’ll want to lift the blade on your table saw to roughly half the thickness of the leg (around 1 5/8′). This will allow the wood to over-reach the wood it’s attached to by approximately 14 inches on both sides, giving it a wonderful, rustic appearance.

Set the rip barrier to prevent you from going all the way up the leg. At either end of the notch, cut one slice through. Then, every 14″ or so between those cuts, cut off pieces. I swear it’s not as difficult as it seems. Look:

Mark and trim out the lumber lines with the table saw.

The table saw was used to trim the slices. Stick the chisel in and pull back from here. The chips are easy to remove. It’s a fantastic sensation!

After that, use your chisel to knock out the cuts on each of your legs. At this stage, you’ll have crude notches. Return each piece to the saw and smooth out the notch by moving it back and forth and left to right across the running blade (VERY CAREFULLY!).

Removing the roughness from the notches using wood screw.

See how the notches are a little rough? That’s what the table saw will take care of.

Repeat with the crossbeams, notching out the ends as well as the area for the footrest that runs across the center.

Fit your crossbeams to the legs for a test fit. Does everything seem to be in order? Good.

 

Joining the four legs of the lumber pieces.

A dry fit test was performed. Nothing is glued or put together here; everything is simply sitting in its notches.

Drill several pilot holes through the crossbeams and into the legs using a 3/8′′ drill bit.

Selecting the measured nails for table drilling.

Mark the bit with a piece of masking tape so you don’t go too deep!

After you’ve drilled all of the pilot holes, ratchet in your lag screws (be cautious if you use a drill to do this–they’re STRONG, and the drill will want to break your wrist).

Fitting the screws at the joints of table.

Take a look! You have some lovely legs!

Now you’ll repeat the technique to cut slots in the top rails for your leaves to slip into. Mark the thickness of the 22 rails (simply a 24 sliced in half lengthwise) whichever far in from the sides you want them, then cut out the notches using the same method as previously.

Removing the roughness on lumber.

The upper end-rails have notches carved into them for the leaves to slip into.

Attach them to your legs using pocket-hole screws. Screw in your 24 footrest as well.

It’s now time to join the side rails to the legs, which is one of the trickier aspects. Because it was the flattest surface I could find, I completed this segment on top of the tabletop. I had my wife stand on the rail to hold it firm while I drilled the pilot hole through the leg and into the rail. The 6′′ lag screws were then put in. And I almost broke my arm attempting to accomplish this with a power drill and a socket.

Girl standing at the tabletop.

My wife’s lovely legs, the table’s nice legs, one connected rail (top right), and one yet to be attached rail are all visible here (bottom right). The frame is inverted.

The bottom view of the homemade table.

The frame is now resting on the tabletop, right-side up.

You now have a fully functional top, leaves, and frame. You’ve nearly made it!

Marking the lines for square and straight of frame.

Make sure one of the leaves is straight by using a square.

Finish the table by distressing it, staining it, then distressing it again.

It’s become a little too complicated recently, so I believe it’s past time for some catharsis. Let’s thrash this tabletop to smithereens. Chains should be used to smack it. With a pipe wrench, whack it. Cut it up using saw blades. Sparklers may be used to burn it. Simply misuse it in general. Don’t worry, it’ll turn out beautifully.

Tools of distress-ion on the table.

Distress-ion tools.

Signature on the table.

You must also add your own signature to this document. We did a very amateur and extremely durable woodburn with our names and dates using a soldering iron.

Let’s start staining this beast. We used Rustoleum’s Dark Walnut Ultimate Wood Stain, however we applied it incorrectly. We didn’t thoroughly mix it before applying it, which resulted in a color we liked–but not the color this stain was supposed to produce. When we returned to apply the second layer, we thoroughly mixed it, resulting in a coat that resembled purple paint. I had to sand it down and begin over. So, instead of following my example, read the guidelines on the container and TEST before staining the whole surface of your new creation!

 

We applied two coats, although this isn’t required. A protective finish is not an option. Polyurethane is perfect for the job!

Coat of stain on the table.

The first coat of stain is applied. Don’t pass judgment on the state of my garage.

Because your monstrosity of a table is going to be HEAVY, I highly advise transferring it in two pieces–lay a blanket in your dining room, place the top upside down on it, then the frame upside down on top of that. For good measure, add a couple more 24 supports across the frame, then begin the arduous task of centering the frame on the top. Attach your brackets once you’ve centered the top–I did two on each end and three on each side.

Man attaching brackets for screws on the table.

Using 1 1/4″ pocket-hole screws to secure brackets.

Did you finish it? What’s more, guess what? You’ve got a brand-new, handcrafted man table. Your only issue is that it’s backwards. Turn that dog around, locate some seats, let your wife put some pretty decorative things on it, and be ready to celebrate Thanksgiving for the next time!

Homemade lumber table with four chairs.

 

 

The “cheap diy dining table” is a project that can be done by hand. It will require some tools, but the end result is worth it.

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