How to Build an Inexpensive Dining Room Table in 5 Steps
October 29, 2014
Hi y'all, Bama Here! Looking for an inexpensive solution to getting the dining room table you always wanted? If you're willing to put in the time and a little elbow grease, I can show you how to go from spending a few thousand dollars on a dining room table to a few hundred dollars. No need to be intimidated; anyone can turn into a do-it-yourselfer.
You can pretty much use any wood of your choosing, because the idea remains the same. I personally prefer to use reclaimed wood, but for the purposes of this project, I chose to build Todd and Camille's table in episode three of "Unlivable" out of 2x4s. We had a metal base welded to serve as the base for the table. You can really be creative here by upcycling dining table legs from a thrift store find, metal legs from an old work bench, reclaimed wood, or you make your own!
Step 1: Sketch and collect supplies
Determine the dimensions and style of the table you want to make (a quick sketch always helps). Don't worry if you can't draw worth a lick, as this is mainly to help you get your vision on paper. Plus, you don't want to get to the store and not have a clue what to buy. Look at each piece of lumber to make sure it's in good shape, this will help you avoid buying warped wood or lumber with too many imperfections. Collect your all your supplies and scurry home!
Step 2: Layout the wood and start cutting
Lay out all the 2x4s you'll be using to make the table top out on your work surface. This is your opportunity to get a little creative! I like to look at the boards' grain and place them in an artistic pattern to add extra interest. Think of it almost like a puzzle. Once you've got all your pieces the way you want them, it's time to start cutting. At this stage, it's a good idea to run a planer over all your freshly cut pieces to give you a smooth surface to work with.
Step 3: Glue the pieces together
Now that everything is cut, it's time to dry-fit all the pieces together. It's your last chance to tweak before gluing your table top pieces together! You want to glue and clamp each piece, allowing time for the glue to dry and set before adding another piece. To make things go faster you can have multiple sections (two to three boards each) setting at the same time. At the end, you can glue those sections together to create your final table top. Be sure to wipe away any excess glue with a damp cloth—you don't want to spend time scraping the hardened glue off later.
Step 4: Sand it down and give it character
Once your table top is finished and you've attached the legs, it's time to get to sanding. I always like to do two paces with a 150 grit sand paper and finish my last pass with a 250 grit sandpaper. You can leave your edges squared off or use a router to achieve nice, rounded edges. If you're going for a more rustic, distressed look, you can take chains and other tools to create imperfections in the wood. Also, another added detail is to embed old nails and bits of metal in the wood before your final sanding.
Step 5: Wipe and stain
Carefully wipe all the excess sawdust from the wood with a dry cloth and rub on a layer of wood conditioner before staining. This will allow your stain to go on evenly and prevent splotches from forming. I decided to go with a rich walnut stain for Todd and Camille's table. (NOTE: Always work in a well ventilated area when working with stain!) Use a chip brush to apply the stain with the grain in sections, then wipe with a rag. Repeat this process until the table is fully stained. After the stain dries, I always like to finish it off with a layer of furniture wax to leave the table with a smooth, consistent shine.
Please tweet me pics of your DYI dining table (@cheekybama)—I can't wait to see how it turned out!