Inspired by the farmhouse table design by Ana White and our friend’s the Young’s who built a similar table, I decided to try this project out. It’s a great project for an ambitious beginner and because it’s a “rustic” design, it’s a pretty forgiving project.
(P.s. If you like this post, check out my Rustic Farmhouse Bed)
There are tons of similar designs that you can find all over the internet – Pinterest is a great place to start for ideas – and in the trendy shops like Restoration Hardware. I took the primary design from Ana White and modified it slightly to fit in our kitchen.
For this project, I first designed it virtually using Google’s SketchUp, because I’ve been wanting an good reason to figure out how to use the program and because I wanted to really get a good understanding of how the table is designed. I stuck with Ana’s design, however there are a couple areas where I would modify it if and when I make another one and I’ll mention those as I go through the project.
If you’re interested in playing around with my 3D model in SketchUp, you can access it here. This was a really helpful exercise for me as this is a great tool to explore and create other designs for other projects! If you download my model, you can also view the hidden geometry. I have a set of chairs from the warehouse positioned so you can see the spacing and seating for the table as well as another version of the table top using 1x lumber instead of 2x lumber (I ended up using 2×6’s and 2×8’s as in the original design, but contemplated using 1x’s for a little while).
[Update... I recently finished the accompanying bench which you can see here!]
As I worked through this project, I made plenty of mistakes and had to re-do a few things. I’ll let you know about the goofs so hopefully you can avoid both the mistakes and the accompanying trip back to Lowes/Home Depot and the additional expense!
I used pine boards and bought everything at Lowes. When you’re shopping for wood, you probably already know this, but make sure that you look at the wood you’re buying to make sure it’s straight. Also, pay attention to the 2x6s and 2x8s since these will be your tabletop. Unless you plan to paint it or distress it, you’ll want to get boards with a nice grain pattern.
- 6 2x4s 8”
- 3 2x6s 10”
- 1 2×6 8”
- 1 2×8 8”
- 6 2×2 8”
On my first trip to Lowe’s for wood, I misread my own plan and substituted on my shopping list a couple 2x4s for what should have been 2x2s skirt supports. I didn’t realize it until I got all my wood cut so I revised the materials list above with 6 2×2’s 8″ each. You can probably eliminate 2 of the 2x4s, but I couldn’t remember exactly, so the wood list above will leave you with some extra 2×4’s, I just can’t remember exactly how much! The great thing about Lowes and Home Depot is that you can take back what you don’t use.
Tools & Hardware
- 2 1/2″ wood screws (80)
- 3″ wood screws (40)
- 3/8″ wood dowels 2″ (3 packs of 20) – These are totally optional and probably a little overkill. I used them to secure the tabletop boards together instead of just screwing them to the skirt supports. This does add a bit of stability to the table (not that it needs much… this table is about as rock solid as they get!), but it also let me keep the table top in one piece and separate from the base of the table until after I stained both. Not to mention, I just wanted to learn how to join boards with dowels and this gave me a good opportunity! Again, it’s optional, but if you plan to stain the table top but paint the base, it’s helpful to keep them separate.
- Wood Glue
- Sandpaper – I used 90 grit to sand down some of the really rough spots on several of the pine boards and then 120 grit to get a smoother surface all over the table, but particularly on the top.
- Electric Hand Sander – It would be tough to sand this table without an electric sander!
- Circular Saw
- Miter Saw – This is optional. You’ll definitely need the circular saw since most Miter saws won’t cross cut a 2×8 and may be barely big enough for a 2×6. But it’s very handy for chopping the 2x4s and 2x2s and getting a perfect 90° angle.
- Tape Measure
- Carpenter’s Square
- Drill (with a Countersink Bit!)
- Dowel Jig – Optional if you want to use the dowels. If you don’t know what you’re doing with this, I’d recommend not using the dowels.
- Wood Clamps (have a look at my pictures to see how I’m using them so you can get sizes that work for you)
- Eye Protection
I’m also assuming you have some kind of work bench to use. If not, get a piece of plywood or MDF to lay on top of a couple sawhorses for a makeshift table. It will come in handy!
- Wood filler (I used this for filling in the slight gaps where the 2x6s and 2x8s came together on the tabletop. Make sure you check to see that you can stain the wood filler)
- Wood conditioner (to help get an even stain on pine)
- 400 grit sandpaper (or fine steel wool)
- Tack Cloth
- Pain Brush
- Cotton Rags
Main Table Dimensions
At this point, I’ll piece together the project the way I did it. While I walk through the cutting and assembling for the purpose of this plan post, in reality I cut everything up front and sanded all the pieces before assembling the table.
Also note that I use both wood screws and wood glue to assemble the table pieces.
Cut and Assemble the Table Legs
The key here is to cut and notch out each of your pieces together so they will fit precisely.
Also, remember that the legs on each side of the table need to mirror each other, so don’t assemble all 4 pairs exactly the same way. The top notch on the post in the picture to the left should always be on the inside of the leg post. That’s where the apron will sit.
When attaching the 2x4s together, use both wood screws and glue. I also used a countersink drill bit to get the screw below the surface and then fill in with wood filler.
To notch the 2x4s, secure them to a work surface and make cuts 1 1/2″ deep then use a chisel to remove the notch.
Cut and Assemble the Table Base
Assemble the Table Apron
The most important thing about assembling the table apron is getting it square. To make sure it is, measure it from corner to corner (creating an X with your measuring). If each corner to corner measurement is exactly the same, your good to glue and screw. Otherwise re-check all your board lengths.
The Table Top
For the table top, I used 7 2x6s running lengthwise and then 2×8’s running crosswise at each end for a nice breadboard effect. I changed the Ana White plan slightly here in 2 ways. First, I wanted to add some additional stability to the tabletop so that I didn’t get any buckling of the boards and could also build the table top as a separate piece from the base of the table. Second, I didn’t want to have any holes on the tabletop so I secured the table from the underside using 2 1/2″ wood screws through the apron supports.
To secure the tabletop planks and the end boards I used dowels. This is an optional step and if you choose to go this route, then you need to get proficient with a dowel jig (another option is a biscuit joiner if you have one of these).
After attaching the tabletop boards using the dowels and wood glue on all surfaces being joined, I used wood filler to fill in the gaps between the boards. One helpful tip with the wood filler is to make sure the product you use will accept stain. I used Elmer’s wood filler. The Liquid Nail product isn’t stain able. Putting the wood filler in is a messy process no matter how you try to put it in. Once the wood filler dries, sand it down so that it’s smooth and level.
It may be a temptation to not use wood filler because it’s tedious, messy & kind of a pain, however if you have some gaps (left by slightly beveled edges of the 2x6s) between the boards, that’s a magnet for attracting bits of food and grime and will be a pain to clean, especially if you have kids! There’s also the chance that spilled milk might seep through the micro space between the boards, no matter how tight your joints.
Once I completed the tabletop & secured it to the base by turning the entire table upside down so as to accurately center the table base and screw it to the underside of the tabletop, it was time for the finishing work.
My finishing consisted of an initial coat of wood finisher, then stain, then 3 coats of polyurethane. A tack cloth is really helpful here as you’re preparing the surface for either staining or between coats of polyurethane. You’ll also want to make sure that you do your finishing in a dust free environment (or as close to it as you can get).
I started with sanding the entire table top again. Yes, I know I sanded each board individually, but wanted to make sure I smoothed out any differences between the boards once the tabletop was completed. Then added the wood filler and sanded again after it was dry. Clean up all the dust with a tack cloth.
Plan your finishing so that you can apply the stain immediately after applying wood conditioner. These 2 steps need to be done together. The wood conditioners that I’ve worked with need to have stain applied before the conditioners dry completely or else they won’t accept the stain.
Test out different stains on some scrap wood (make sure you use some wood conditioner first) so you can see what the final product is going to look like. If you’re married, I highly recommend agreeing with your spouse on the stain before putting it on! That will likely save you a lot of grief… sanding down what you’ve created so you “get it right this time.” Experiment with different colors and also with staining one color on top of another. You can get some pretty cool effects depending on what stain you put on and how long you let it sit before wiping it off.
Once the stain is dry, apply your polyurethane according to the directions. I used 400 grit sandpaper between coats. I should also mention that I used polyurethane on the entire table, not just the tabletop. A friend of mine gave me a great tip: For the last coat of polyurethane, consider wiping it on with a rag. This will get a very minimal coat and will dry quickly, minimizing the chance that a speck of dust may get on the table and mar the finish.
Here’s a picture of the final product:
Next project is a bench to accompany the table…
Also, below are pictures of the finishing products that I used. Minwax Early American 230 stain, the Cabot wood conditioner and the Minwax Polyurethane: