My wife, m0mmacat, asked me to build her a new dining room table. We already have a nice heirloom 50’s style table that we received from good friends of the family years ago (that my brother and I used to eat breakfast off of when we visited them), so I was a little taken aback when she wanted to replace it. But we talked about it, and it would be relocated to the kids playroom to have many more years of service as a Lego table.
What she really wanted was to redo the dining room with a French Bistro style theme with a farmhouse style table as the centerpiece. Farmhouse Tables on the retail market can be VERY expensive (think above $1000) at popular outlets like Anthropologie, and are also the subject of much Pinteresting since Ana White and others have posted inexpensive builds using commodity lumber.
We decided on construction lumber (2x materials) because it was inexpensive and easy to get – albeit heavy. After picking out the lumber (and I was trying to be as choosy as I could to the dismay of Home Depot), we got to work on the plans, although I had thought a lot about how I was going to build it prior. I had watched a Norm Abrahms video on Youtube, which outlined pretty much what I wanted to do. The issue was that with construction lumber, I don’t have the tool sizes needed to cut the mortises and such required by the Norm Abrahms version, so I had to compensate by using non-traditional joinery with my Kreg pocket hole jig. I did manage to stick to the basic design, including the horizontal support underneath and the through tenons on the support, however. One of the major design elements was that we wanted the table to be able to be taken apart, which in a lot of Pinterest designs we saw, the table couldn’t be dismantled – meaning once assembled, it would be hard to fit through standard openings like a door.
After assembling the tabletop using pocket holes, the top required a lot of prep work with a belt sander to get it smooth enough to use. I also rigged a cleat system similar to the Norm table using 2x4s and lag screws (no glue). I used no glue because I reasoned that if we ever wanted to redo the legs, it would be much easier to remove the existing cleats if they weren’t glued to the top. I cut the through mortises in the legs, and fitted the through tenons for the horizontal support – locating the mid-support piece about halfway of the length of the table to support the table from sagging. The pins in the ends of each side of the horizontal support keep the legs from splaying, and I used (4) 2 1/2 screws through the cleats into the legs to ensure the legs don’t shift or wobble in the cleats. I used leg levelers on the feet to ensure we could get the table level(ish), because construction lumber will never be perfectly straight as it ages so I just assumed we’d have to level the table when we install it.
We stained the table using Minwax Polyshades (Espresso) and we did two coats on everything but the table underside. Then I waxed the table with 3 coats of Johnson’s Paste Wax. I’m not too happy with the wax finish on the dark stain (I don’t usually use dark stain) but it will provide a minor amount of sheen and protection to the table in addition to the Poly coating.
One final touch: I carved a heart shaped venn diagram with our initials with a wood burning pen onto the surface in the corner. As my wife puts it, it’s the Table of Love.