Hand-built Dining Room Table

A few weeks ago I posted about the dining room table I built using plans from Ana White’s Farmhouse Table and promised that I’d follow-up with the full play-by-play, so here it is!

The table was built in double quick time as I’d put an impossible deadline on myself. I had one weekend + two days of possible slippage {though I also wanted to use that time to build a matching bench}, to build the table in time for Thanksgiving –– a holiday I’d promised friends and family that I’d be hosting.

We {and by we, I mean my father & I, as luckily he was visiting just in time to help!} started by purchasing the wood. I’d originally planned on building it using reclaimed wood, but the morning of Project Day 1, I awoke to a downpour and the reclaimed wood lot in my ‘hood is {oddly enough} outside. I don’t know much about projects that involve wood and building, but I was pretty sure I didn’t want to build a table using soaked wood. So, plan B found us a Home Depot, where we loaded up on all the goods.

Checking wood for straightness Wood

Amateur Builder Tip #1: Choose your wood carefully and check each and every piece of wood to make sure it’s straight and free of any cracks. The last thing you want is a pile of warped & cracked wood on your hands.

Hand-built math Lumber

Amateur Builder Tip #2: Do the math. Even if you’re using someone else’s plan, it doesn’t hurt to do the math yourself…or in my case, let your dad do the math :)

I followed Ana’s plan pretty much to a T, save for a few minor adjustments. The biggest of those adjustments was using 4x4s for the legs. This makes notching boards a little more difficult, but we did manage it none-the-less.

Legs  Legs 2

Amateur Builder Tip #3: If you have any wood cut at the wood lot, be sure to measure it again before you leave. We had the 4x4s cut at Home Depot because I only have a circular saw at home. Once we started building, we realized they were too short!!!

This was the first or many minor mistakes, but we prevailed by adjusting the placement of the apron and then used scrap wood to fill in the gap between the legs and table top. On the finished table, you can’t even see it.

Breadboards Siderails installed

The second mistake was placing the bottom leg supports for the stretcher on the outside of the legs, rather than the inside. This is really a matter of aesthetic preference and wouldn’t have a been a big deal, had I not already measured the stretcher according to the dimensions for placement on the inside. Save for having to use an extra 2×4, it turned out okay.

Breadboards too short breadboards too short 2

The final mistake came at the very end of the build when we were placing the breadboards. They were too short! It was late, I was tired and in my haste decided to just go with it. “It’s rustic! It’s not supposed to be perfect.” So, we glued and screwed and… It. Looked. Awful!! You may not be able to tell in the photos above, but it was definitely noticeable. Ugh! I wasn’t sure how I was going to fix it. I was pretty sure the boards weren’t coming off and I’d have to work some magic with my saw in order to get the pieces I needed to add to each end just the right size. So, I took a deep breath and crossed my fingers…

Fixed breadboards fixed breadboards 2

…and I did it! Check out that saw skill!

Amateur Build Tip #4: I’m sure there are mistakes that you just can’t come back from, but don’t throw in the towel until you’ve considered all your options. Some times a mistake will end up being the best part of the project. Turns out my scrappy band-aide breadboards look like they were made that way on purpose :)

Amateur Builder Tip #5: Never underestimate the weight of wood. It took 5, very strong adults, to get this thing into my dining room. In fact, I was pretty sure it was staying in the shed, where I’d built it until my awesome friends came to the rescue. Needless to say, it is a very sturdy table.

Farmhouse Table Weather Oak Stain

I pre-sanded all the pieces before I put the table together, but did a little extra maintenance once she was all glued, screwed and stable. To finish her up, I just added a few coats of Minwax ‘Weathered Pine’ stain. No wood conditioner as I wanted the natural imperfections to come through. I’ve yet to finish it with varnish or oil, but I’m planning on doing that very soon! Note: The bench is unfinished. I actually finished it on Thanksgiving morning and threw a blanket over it before my guests arrived. Phew!! I’m planning to finish it up soon.


Oh, and in case you were wondering…Thanksgiving was a success!

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