Wednesday, August 21, 2013

DIY Farmhouse Table Tutorial

Dave is here to tell us how he made the farmhouse table. He has a lot to say and show about it. My finger hurts from editing all the pictures. Not even kidding. If you want to make a farmhouse table, you won't find a tutorial more thorough than this one! 

OK.  Dave here for another installment of how to make passably decent stuff out of wood.  I've been planning on making this table for the kitchen since before Thanksgiving.  I finally did it over summer break.  As Gretchen mentioned in the other table post, we spent a long time looking at other plans for tables.  My problem, it seems, is that I keep getting distracted by our hectic lives and/or discouraged about the lack of a particular power tool and/or unable to bookmark the perfect plan when I come across it, so I ended up essentially making this up as I went along.  And, as I mentioned, I came out with a passably decent table.

First off, the dimensions.  Our old kitchen table was too short to put two chairs on the long side comfortably.  With a household of 6, we needed a longer table.  But the eat-in area of the kitchen isn't big enough for a crazy long table.  So after much debate, measuring, and researching, we decided that the perfect length would be 60 inches - long enough for two chairs per long side and short enough so that we can actually fit the chairs at the table without banging into the walls.  Only eight inches longer than the old table, but it was enough.  So here's how I built a 60"x29"x30" farmhouse table.

Shopping List
QtyItemUnit PriceTotal
212' 2x45.3810.76
210' 2x44.448.88
210' 2x87.5715.14
18' 2x85.785.78
2pack of 3/8" dowel plugs1.462.92
150 ct 2 1/2" Kreg screws5.215.21
126 mm furniture glides2.482.48

Cut List

254" 2x4slong apron
225" 2x4sshort apron
222" 2x4ssupports between long aprons
229" 2x8sbread boards
445.5" 2x8stop boards
828.5" 2x4slegs

There's a diagram of the table top from beneath.  Those ovals represent evenly spaced pocket holes attached with a Kreg jig.  As shown, each of the four 45.5" boards have two pocket screws attached to its neighbor.  Given the length and weight of these boards, it might have been safer to use more.  Now that it's attached to the aprons it's fine, but I was worried the screws might get ripped out before I finished.  I also used wood glue to strengthen each seam.

We started out by aligning the four boards in such a way as to minimize the gaps between them.

We glued and screwed the four top boards, then made a nice clean cut on both sides to make the desired 45.5" length.

We then glued

and screwed some more, this time for the bread boards.

Here is a close-up of one of the pocket screws.

This table top is crazy heavy.  This was one of the times when I feared the screws wouldn't hold.  But they did!

Here's a diagram of the long and short aprons.  They are attached with two pocket screws per joint.  I planned to glue the joints, too, but forgot.  Not shown in this diagram are the extra two supports, but you'll see the real thing below.  Again, each joint is held by two screws.  I opted for 2x4s for the apron as I was trying to optimize leg room.  I think an extra two inches of a 2x6 would have made it hard to fit legs (human, not table) under the table.

Behold, the assembled apron.  You can't see them, but there are 16 pocket screws holding it together.

Of all the decisions that went into this construction, the hardest one was how to make the legs.  I thought of using 4x4 posts, but I couldn't find any that were untreated.  While the legs would be coated with polyurethane and would have probably contained the noxious fumes well enough (?), it still made me a little nervous.  Also, the treated lumber would be a different color!  I entertained the thought of simply buying pre-built table legs, but Gretchen thought that that was lame.  Also, I think they were $10 a piece, which would have significantly affected the total cost.  I finally decided on stacking two untreated 2x4s together to make the illusion of a 4x4 post.  It wasn't until I saw it and thought "Huh, that doesn't look square like a 4x4" that I remembered that the length and width of a 2x4 aren't really at a ratio of 2:1.  Not a huge deal, but it's a little bothersome.

Anyway, I didn't want the legs to be nested inside the apron.  The table was already pretty narrow and I didn't want to sacrifice any of the stability by moving the legs toward the center.  It probably would have been fine, but I decided to notch out one of the 2x4s so that the leg would join flush with apron.

Each leg consists of these two boards.  The difference in height of 3.5" matches the height of the 2x4s of the apron.  The width of the notch is (supposed to be) one half the width of the board, or 1.75".  More on that in a bit.

The notches were cut out first by circular saw, then by jig saw.  The less-than-flush cut made by the jigsaw made the seam between the leg and apron ... less-than-flush.  We might cover those up with fancy industrial-looking brackets in the future.

I got to pull out my Father's Day gift of countersinking drill bits here.  Four countersunk 2.5" deck screws per leg, a healthy amount of glue, and the wood plugs and the legs were done.

A post-stain picture.

The distressing was pretty fun.  We used both sides of some hammers, the sides of a screw being wacked by a hammer, and this metal right angle frame for drywalling that is for some reason in the basement to get just the right amount of destruction.

Milo and Gus got the idea.

Ari doesn't like loud noises, though.

We thought it'd be easier to sand and stain before assembling the legs, apron frame, and top.  But sanding is so boring.

Unless you're Gus.  Then you get into it.

Since the table was clearly going to be very heavy, I decided to assemble the pieces in the kitchen.  So after Gretchen stained all the parts, I brought them to the kitchen.

There were many right angles to verify.  Once the leg was positioned I used three countersunk 2.5" deck screws to attach each leg to the apron - one screw into the long apron and two into the short, sunk into two sides of the leg notch.

Rotate and repeat.

While it may be hard to see in this picture, this is when I realized an aesthetic problem.

Here's a close up of one of the legs and how I didn't do so well cutting that notch at exactly 1.75".  Close, but no cigar.

Fortunately, the trusty Ridgid multitool could fix my sloppiness.

After much wood shavings and sand paper, all four legs were more flush to the apron than before.

Much better!  Good thing we had leftover stain.

Next, to attach the top.  Careful measuring to make sure the countersunk screws didn't miss the apron ... there was a 2 inch overhang and the narrow side of a 2x4 to hit the middle of.  So 2 inches plus half of 1.5 inches gives you 2.75 inches.

Three countersunk screws evenly spaced on each of the four sides of the table

a few more wood plugs, and a bit more stain and you've got yourself a table.

Slap on the polyurethane, attach some threaded furniture glides to the legs, and sit down to eat!

Update:  The table turned out a bit wobbly, which makes me sad.  I think my notched leg construction was not the best idea.  I thought of adding a diagonal brace inside each apron corner - you know, like real tables - but decided to try reinforcing with a few extra screws going from the legs up into the bottom of the table top.  Here's a few of the underside - two screws per leg.  That has made a significant difference for now.  Hopefully forever.

Linking with:
The Creative Connection
The Shabby Nest's Frugal Friday
Miss Mustard Seed's Furniture Feature Friday
The Inspiration Gallery
Monday Funday


  1. It looks awesome! I've been wanting a farmhouse table for our kitchen, but I don't think Kai's up for making his own. I did find them from a carpenter that charges a reasonable price though. Just wish they were local.

    1. Yes, I can't imagine how much it would cost to ship one of these--so heavy!

  2. Such a great tutorial! You could go into business and sell those solid wood tables for thousands :)

    1. We'd need to make thousands, with as long as it takes us to make one of them ;)

  3. Love your tutorial. And that table is just spectacular. I love the ... bread boards? Is that what the end pieces of wood on the table top are called? It just makes the whole tale look so finished and fabulous. Love the stain color. Oh and the team of distressers: Total pros :)
    And Dave: total keeper :)

    1. yep, breadboards! I don't know why--we pretty much never put bread there ;)

  4. WOW! What an awesome table and tutorial! I am so, so impressed! I popped over from The Creative Connection-- thanks for sharing!

    ~Abby =)

  5. A beautiful, family made table! Is there anything better than this! The place where we spend so much time and now yours has so much meaning! It is gorgeous friend! High fives to your husband and kids!!!

  6. Love this table! Sorry to hear it is(was) a bit wobbly - that's no fun. But hopefully your fix holds it steady. It looks great!

    1. Dave was just sitting at the table and commenting that it's not wobbly at all anymore :)

  7. I love the table and love even more that you got your family involved!! What a wonderful memory for them to have and be proud of!

    1. Thanks! I love how the blog means we have documentation of all the kids with tools, too :)

  8. I am looking for a good tutorial to make a dining table for weeks now. Looks like I finally found one! Thanks.

    1. oh, I'm so glad--hope it helps! Send me a picture when you make one :)

  9. Your table is gorgeous! I'm hosting a Wall Decal giveaway that you should enter!


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