I recently moved out of an apartment and into a house with a dining room. While I was excited to finally have a dedicated dining room, I wasn't too keen on spending thousands of dollars on a dining set. By building it myself with mostly recycled materials, I was able to spend less than $200 on the table and only $360 on the chairs.
This project took about 2 weeks to complete.
- 13 - 2"x4"x9' studs
- 5 - 2"x3"x8' studs
- 4 - 28" hairpin table legs
- 8 - chairs
- Spray paint
- Wood screws
- Wood glue
- Wood filler
- Miter saw
- Table saw
- Thickness planer
- Wood clamps
- CNC or handheld planer
- Misc. hand tools
Many thanks to the LVL1 Hacker Space for supplying much of the tools and expertise needed for this project.
Step 1: Find Wood
While renovating our home, we tore down a wall between our dining room and kitchen. The home was built in 1937 and I was really impressed with the quality of the pine studs used as I was ripping them out. I carefully removed each one to avoid damage the the studs.
After removing the 13 studs from the former wall, a lot of time was spent removing the remaining plaster and nails. A large nail pry-bar worked wonders here. It's important to remove all nails before you begin cutting the wood.
Step 2: Cut and Plane
Once the studs were clear of debris, I cut the 9' studs down to random lengths between 1' and 5' with a miter saw. The random lengths give the final table top a more diverse look with various joints and grain patterns.
Once the studs were cut down, I ripped them in half down the center with a table saw.
Next use a thickness planer to smooth down the rough edges and ensure each stick is uniformly square. This took a really long time running each stick through on at least 3 of the 4 sides.
Step 3: Glue It All Together
Next I laid the sticks out in a random pattern that looked good to me. It took a lot of time to decide on the preferred grain side and match the pieces together in a way that I liked best. It's a fun puzzle to put together.
After I laid everything out, I turned each stick a quarter turn and began gluing down the length. Make sure to also glue the butt joints between sticks. I decided to only use glue to hold the table top together. I tested the glue on several pieces first and found that the wood broke under pressure before the wood glue joints would give.
After rolling the stick a quarter turn back and pressing them together, I used wood clamps to hold everything together. I found it easier to clamp the two halves separately. After each half was dry, I glued the middle and clamped the two halves together.
Let it dry overnight before planing.
Step 4: Plane It Down
Hand planing is not fun. I spent about a half hour scraping with a hand planer before I gave up and went hi-tech.
Luckily my local hacker space, LVL1, has a CNC Shopbot. We set the CNC to cut a giant rectangle that was larger than the table top at a constant depth. Be sure to test the depth on some scrap wood first.
This method saved a lot of energy, but was definitely not quicker. It took the CNC about 6 hours with a 3/4" bit.
Step 5: Fill and Sand
Since the wood studs were reclaimed, there were a lot of gaps and nail holes in the wood. I went over the entire table top with a putty knife and wood filler. After sanding down the wood glue, double check again for any spots you may have missed. I repeated this process twice to ensure I had filled all the gaps.
Use a random orbit sander to smooth down the wood. I started with 80 grit to quickly sand through the rough stuff and worked my way up to 220 grit. Take your time with this as any spots you miss will show up and bug you forever.
Step 6: Build Subframe Supports
While I was confident in the wood glue, I wanted to make sure the table was indestructible and would never warp or twist. I grabbed some cheap 2"x3" pine from the home store and added some supports under the table top.
Make sure to pre-drill all the holes and use proper wood screws to avoid splitting the wood. In addition the the screws, I also glued each of them down.
Step 7: Route the Edges
I used a Bosch router and a 3/4" round over bit to create a nice and classic edge. This was quick and easy.
Then sand again and make sure everything is perfect!
Step 8: Paint & Install the Legs
I purchased 4 - 28" hairpin legs from Hairpinlegs.com. When they arrived they were raw steel. I used a degreaser spray to clean and prep each leg for paint.
After the legs are clean and dry, I used standard black spray paint and applied 3 solid coats.
When installing the legs, make sure to once again pre-drill the holes in the underside of the table top and use good wood screws. The legs have a nice leveler built in and are really high quality.
Step 9: Coat With Poly
I used Minwax oil modified clear satin poly to coat the table. The only reason I picked that type was because I had about a half gallon left over from refinishing the hardwood floors. It is a nice poly that dries quickly, but just about any poly or lacquer will do that suits your preference.
Wait 2 hours after each coat and sand lightly with a +220 grit sand paper. I applied a total of 8 coats, which might be overkill, but I wanted to protect the wood as much as I could.
After the final coat, I waited 24 hours hours before using to ensure the poly was fully dry.
Then just add chairs, food, people and dine away!