Today’s post has been a very requested one and I am SO thrilled to finally share how we built our dining table! When I first moved into my NYC apartment, I had ordered another table for this space that ended up being way too big. I returned it, and searched for the perfect table for weeks, but couldn’t find one I loved. Shortly thereafter Thomas and I started dating and he immediately offered to build me a table! I thought he was joking at first! Well, he wasn’t and come to find out he is incredibly handy, creative, and determined. We went out to his parents’ house in Connecticut and spent 2 weekends working on the table. It was a labor of love for sure, but SO worth it. Every time I walk by it or sit at it, I am overcome with joy knowing that we built it!
Dining Table DIY
- 5 white oak planks (90″ long, 11.5″ wide, 3.5″ thick)
- 6 galvanized steel L-brackets
- 48 2.5″ wood screws
- 16 felt furniture pads
- 4 cans of water based matte finish polyurethane
- 1 bottle of single malt scotch (LOL – T added this in here as a joke ;))
- Belt Sander with 80 grit sandpaper and fine grit sandpaper
- Power drill
- Level and square
- Dish soap
- Paint roller
- Circular saw
Step 1: Sourcing The Wood
Written by T: “We used white oak for our project. This part of our table journey turned out to be the easiest step in the process for one specific reason: we had access to roughly twenty 8-foot long white oak planks that were given to my father from one of his clients in CT. (The client used to own a local wood mill.) Our table called for the use of 5 planks in total. So we were able to cherry-pick the lot of them to find the most plumb (aka level) and aesthetically pleasing planks for the top and legs. We also happened to love the natural look of the wood and the character in each plank. My parents got to free up some space at their home (the planks were huge and weighed 100 pounds each!) so it was a win-win.”
Step 2: Design
“Once we decided to use all white oak planks for the table, we played around with a few design ideas and looks that we liked. We wanted something that would be simple, timeless, and chic—all while fitting the space in our SoHo apartment. We ended up sketching out a few ideas while at Kat’s sister’s wedding in upstate NY—which probably inspired the rustic vibe that the table gives off.
The design is fairly simple. Three 11.5″ planks form the top of the table. Roughly 90″ in length by 35″ wide and 3.5″ thick. We used the standard or typical table height of 30″. We went back and forth on the base of the table. But ultimately decided taking the harder route of building our own, versus buying a pre-made frame (metal or similar)—and honestly couldn’t be happier with our decision. So we have a slight overhang on the legs which gives the table a nice depth to it.”
Step 3: Cutting The Planks To Size
“We used a circular saw to cut down the top to 90″ and then four legs to 26.5″.”
Step 4: Sanding, Sanding, and more Sanding
“Once the planks were cut to size, the next step was to put some serious sweat equity in—that meant roughly spending 16 hours over two days sanding every square inch of each plank. For the first run on each plank, we used a belt sander with 80 grit sand paper. You can see a big difference even with the first run in the pictures below! Once we gave each board a couple of turns with the belt sander, and put a smooth edge on all outward facing edges, we finished sanding with a fine grit by hand—this helped to smooth out anything the belt sander may have left too rough.”
Step 5: Sealing the Planks
“We wanted to maintain the same or similar color of the white oak while also protecting it from any glass ring stains, food, etc. So we decided to use a matte finish water based polyurethane (which is great because it has no smell!) We went with three coats in total, and applied it generously as to make sure not to miss any cracks or crevices. (Kat was a pro! See pic ;))”
Step 6: The Final Assembly
“So our wood was sanded, stained, and finally ready to be assembled—this was definitely the most stressful part of the project! You never know how well things are going to fit together and what the final product will look like—especially since it was our first ever build! We placed four felt furniture pads in each corner of each leg to prevent from scratching the surface it was being placed on. Then placed the four legs at a distance that allowed for room at either end of the table for extra seating.
Next, we placed the center plank directly down the centerline and used 10″ galvanized steel L-brackets to secure the legs to table top. 2.5″ wood screws were used to secure the table after we pre-drilled the holes. (PRO Tip: coat the screws in dish soap to screw in with ease!) We repeated the same steps for the two outer planks as well and added a few shims (cedar shingles) to level it out a bit.”
Step 7: Sit Back and Enjoy!
“After the countless hours of sanding, staining and leveling…our table was finally complete. It was totally worth it. We have a custom made table that we made from the ground up and will have for years to come. We think it turned out well, given our friends still don’t believe we made it until we show them the pictures of the entire process!”
I hope you are inspired to build your own table now! It really is a rewarding experience to build a piece of furniture for your home, by hand. For those who would rather purchase a similar looking table, I linked a few options below!