A couple of weeks ago I shared Our Farmhouse Style Fireplace Makeover with you and let on towards the end that it was time to fix the farmhouse style table that we had started. So without further ado, I am here to share our experience with our DIY dining table that we started right around the same time as our fireplace makeover.
The dining table that we were previously using, which we just sold today, was a generous gift from my parents to Ben and I back when we were living in Fairview Heights, prior to kids. This pub style table lasted us through 3 moves and 4+ years of little hands working all sorts of destructive magic. The structure of the table itself was still in good condition and would look like new if refinished. The top of the table had definitely seen better days. The chairs needed some screw replacements and a much needed uplift to the chair padding due to toddler spills…still occurring what seems like every other night at best.
So, we could have just done a refresh on our previous table, but for multiple reasons wanted to try doing something new on our own. If it was a total flop, we could always go back and refinish our old one …or buy…we really didn’t want to the latter. We wanted to start from scratch to 1) have more surface space, 2) accommodate our kids with something a little bit lower (and no seats with fabric!), and 3) to bring a different style into our home.
I like the farmhouse look, there is something about it that just feels warm and inviting to me, though I know this look is not for everyone. Doing a quick Google search, many of the tables I liked ranged anywhere from $500 – $1,500 and upward…ugghhhh! Given that our boys are still slopping food, drinks, crayons, paint, and whatever else it might be all over the place, it is hard to justify spending that much on a table that we will likely go through before we end up with something more permanent. How people manage to keep “nice things” “nice” when there are toddlers in the house, I have NO idea! Yes, we have crayons that are washable…but apparently we also have crayons still that are not. For anyone that didn’t see my Instagram story last week, Jack drew with blue crayon all over our whiskey barrel that we use for shelving in the dining area…added some new character I suppose. I could be more of a stickler about keeping things clean, but I guess that just isn’t something I feel like dedicating a bunch of time too (don’t get me wrong -we are generally clean people)!
Anyhow -new table plans! Ben already had a few pictures he had been looking at online for tables he thought he could make work. I showed him a few that I liked too and luckily we were both on the same page. I asked him today if there was any website that he used as a reference when constructing the table so I could give appropriate credit and he said that he just went off of a picture that he googled. I just sourced the photo and it is from Erin Spain’s Blog, it looks like she has made a few different tables and has tons of other cute projects! Ben was referencing the 2nd photo that she has on her blog post. I’m going to include a similar one below that we took and identify some of the “pieces” I’ll be referencing in the directions. Hopefully this will help make things more clear. 1st LESSON LEARNED: when writing a blog post for a DIY project that you are working on in conjunction with your husband -DO NOT wait until it is finished to write. Take notes together throughout the entire process to avoid frustration by both individuals :-). Don’t worry, 2 projects down and we still love each other.
Disclosure: Please note that I participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The affiliate links I’ve chosen to use below are all handpicked by me. Please also note, we are not professionals in woodworking! This is just a detailed account of what we did as a couple trying to save a dime, while still making our house feel like a home.
We decided to have our table top 5 feet in length and approximately 40 inches in width. On each end of the table, we cut the 1st layer of supporting wood (2 x 4s) to be 2 inches inward from the table top edge (approximately 36 inches in length). A skill saw was used to cut the supporting layer of wood at a 45 degree angle on each side.
We then measured the 2nd layer of supporting wood (2×4) to match the short end of the 1st layer of supporting wood and cut again at a 45 degree angle on both sides.
The same process was repeated with the 1×4 that was used for the third layer of supporting wood, but of course the measurement matched with the shortest end of the 2nd layer of supporting wood.
Repeat steps 1-3 4 times and this will give you your supporting wood for both sides of the table, top and bottom.
Cut 1×4 to 4 inches in length. Repeat 4 times and these will be the table feet for each corner of the table.
Cut your north and south 2x4s to length for desired heighth of table. You’ll have 2 supporting beams. We cut ours at 19 inches.
Cut 2x4s to desired length for diagonal support beams on north and south sides with 45 degree angles (8 pieces total). These are basically shorter versions of what we did in steps 1-3. We chose to have space in between the top diagonal support beams and the bottom diagonal support beams, but you could plan accordingly so that all 4 meet in the middle on each side. I believe it was easier to not have them meet in the middle (hence our decision to not do so).
Now it is time to start assembling the table together. For your north and south sides respectively, take your 2 supporting beams and center them to the 3rd layer of supporting wood -screw them together (4 screws). Do this for the top and bottom.
Then align your 1st and 2nd supporting layer of wood and screw into the 3rd supporting layer of wood (4 screws). Do this for the top and bottom on the north and south side.
Screw the 4 table feet into the bottom, 3rd supporting layer (3 screws). Be careful not to screw through the angled wood.
Take your 8 diagonal support beams and align them so that they are flat against the top/bottom of supporting wood and the 2 supporting beams. Use 1 screw to screw into supporting wood and 1 screw to screw into supporting beam. Repeat 8 times.
Cut 2x4s at 48 inches long (2 of them) and then screw into your structure on both ends (2 screws from top diagonally and 2 screws from bottom diagonally). You will do this process twice; once with the top board and again with the bottom board. For the bottom board, use excess 1×4 lumber to sit bottom board on to create desired gap between floor and bottom board of table.
Use wood putty to fill in screw holes and cracks between the wood. We missed a few, but I’m not complaining.
Stain or paint the bottom of the table per your preference. The process of staining, painting, and sealing this table is what turned this table into such a “process” for us. Originally I decided that we would just go with the entire table stained with the Espresso Minwax because I thought it would be easier to match chairs later on. Well, the stain looked fine in our dim lit garage, but even after multiple coats, it just looked sloppy in the daylight. Maybe this was because of our sanding job, maybe because of the type of wood, who knows, we aren’t professionals! So, I decided to prime the stained wood and then paint it a light gray color, which could be mistaken for white. I like the chalk paint look, but wasn’t able to find what I wanted without putting in a special order so I just made it. There are lots of ways to make chalk paint by mixing other things into regular paint with a little bit of water. I’ve used both baking soda and Plaster of Paris on past projects. I think I used Plaster of Paris on our buffet type piece of furniture that I did years ago and it is still in wonderful shape. Our desk on the other hand, I think I used the baking soda, and it has not held up well. So, I decided to go with Plaster of Paris on a whim…except that what I thought we had in our garage already was not Plaster of Paris, it was Patching Plaster. Do I really know the difference between the two? Nope! However, they mixed the same, and seemed to do the trick so this will be an experiment to see how it holds up.
Sand stain grade project panels & stain. Ben did 2 coats of stain with a sponge brush. (I added a 3rd after Step 18).
Connect stain grade project panels with 4 metal brackets.
Connect the table top to the legs with L shaped metal brackets; we used 8 brackets. Connect 2 on the outsides of each leg and 2 on the insides of each leg. Make sure screws are short enough to not go through the tabletop.
Seal table with polyurethane. Okay, this was the other step that held up our progress and left us with a half finished table in our house for what seemed like forever as we deciphered what to do. We put the first coat of poly on the top and ended up with issues on the top of the table and the bottom. The top had bubbles and the bottom turned yellow; some nice words were said :-). I think the problem with the top was we forgot to sand it down first (and maybe using a sponge brush?) and the problem with the bottom was we shouldn’t have used the poly in the first place since I mixed the paint. Soooo…we sanded the top of the table down and also repainted the bottom of the table with 2 coats of my mixed paint.
Then we used Mineral Sprits with an old t-shirt to wipe down the tabletop completely clean.
To finish off the top of the table, we used a paint brush specifically for poly and did one coat of equal parts mineral spirits and poly. We then continued to do 2 coats of the poly with a light sand in between.
Finally, we finished! She isn’t perfect and you won’t find her at a store, but that is part of the reason I love her, it is unique to us and she will be well loved. I ordered these metal chairs off of Amazon to go with her in the Gun Metal color. For 4 chairs you can’t beat the price! We will also be able to keep these much cleaner than our last chairs. Note: I did not anticipate our 2 year old picking up one of the sanding blocks and running it over the chair…you can imagine my reaction…again…just adding character!
Oh, oh, oh, and I can’t forget, remember when I was talking about the costs of buying a table earlier on?? We spent under $150 on this one (not including chairs). If you include the chairs, we are still well under what it would have cost for many of the other ones I liked. Now given, this price will fluctuate a little bit depending on whether you have supplies on hand or not, we did have a few already. If you have any questions, please ask away in the comments. Or give us a pointers for future projects!!! The next thing on my list is much more simple…stay tuned for some DIY placemats.