A few months ago I decided to build our family of 5 a new dining table with reference to the Ana White’s Farmhouse Table plans. We knew we wanted to make the table out of some red oak that I had gotten for free, so I intended to deviate from the plans a bit. Long story short, I deviated from the plans quite a bit. The plan was to make the table essentially with free materials I was given when I began woodworking last year, but that changed when I spent several days squaring up the rough stock and realized with the tools I had, I would be squaring stock for weeks!
The first major mistake I made: jointing a crowned plank in the center of the table-top…whoops! After gluing, Kreg jig screwing, and sanding, I realized there would be no way to get the crown out of the top. So…the first table-top became the bench seat and the other half is going to be used for a computer desk in another room. After a trip to the local lumber yard, I had about $220 worth of red oak: Four 1x4x14ft planks for the legs and Seven 1x6x6ft planks for the table top.
I began by cutting the 14′ 1×4’s to length and then jointing them with lots of glue and clamps to form the legs. Next I set up the table saw to notch out the tops of the legs to receive the box. I prefer this method over using a circular saw or jig-saw as indicated in the plans. My wood-chisel cleaned things up and then I sanded, scraped using a card scraper after following Marc’s podcast on sharpening them, applied two coats of stain, and finished with two coats of wipe-on poly.
I followed Ana’s plans to construct the 2×4 base, modifying it to fit the size of my table and the specific overhang I sought. I also simply used 2×4 scraps to span the width of the box, and then Kreg jigged them to the box and table-top for support. I jointed the table-top planks using a Kreg Jig and glue. Lots of sanding and scraping again, and then I flipped the top, attached the box, and attached the legs. I used more of the 1×4’s for the skirts to hide the 2×4 box.
We decided we also wanted a built-in bench for storage instead of a free standing one to accompany the table. I followed the plan at the following site, modifying it as necessary to match the length of our table. I only built the bench and not the wall unit (http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/how-to/intro/0,,20301255,00.html). My mistake with the first table-top ended up being a blessing of sorts when we were looking for a sturdy bench-top.
All in all, we love it! It took a good deal of time to finish the table in part because I’m a horrible perfectionist and I’m fairly new to woodworking. The bench, on the other hand, was finished in a day.
The table is constructed entirely out of red oak and measures 6’x38.5″. The bench-top is also red oak. The bench is birch plywood and pine.
On future projects, I’d like to try mortise and tenon joinery to be truer to the Arts & Crafts movement and style. Total cost for table: $220 for wood; we already had all other supplies. Bench: $25; again, we already had most of the materials needed.