Dining Room Table

Well, hello. Did you miss me? I'm still working on figuring out the balance between projects/photographing said projects/blogging ad nauseam about my accomplishments. I've got a few under my belt and a healthy number in the queue so here's to a more steady stream of posts. 

Last year, a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, I determined it necessary to build a large dining room table to host Luke's parents and my brother for Thanksgiving dinner. While the round tulip table we'd been using would have been sufficient (a little crowded, but sufficient) I'd already made up my mind and so it was to be. I had this image of a huge rustic table filled with people and rich conversation and amazing food. It didn't matter that it's just Luke and I, no kids, and I can't cook. A fantasy is not easily overcome.  

Having no previous experience with woodworking or furniture construction I thought it best to start simple and use what so many bloggers and DIY enthusiasts had used before me: plumbing pipes. Turns out, I get the appeal. It's just so freaking easy to create something sturdy and relatively cost effective with plumbing pipes. Once I settled on the material I started sketching out basic structure ideas for the base. This quickly escalated into A Beautiful Mind territory with multiple drawings in various stages of scribbled, scratched-out and started-over scattered everywhere. 

When I finally did land on the design I spent several more days cross-legged in the aisles of both Lowes and Home Depot attempting to ensure the plumbing fixtures would actually work the way I needed them to. It took a couple of weeks for me to accrue the necessary parts and configure the base. By then it was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I had a gargantuan pipe structure in the middle of my dining room and no top.   

I was really digging the idea of a plank wood table top and after reading this post felt confident enough to swing by Lowes on the way home from work and have five 2x10s cut to size. Sidenote: having a station wagon is the best.

This was a quick job. On the underside I used 1x4s and way too many screws to attach the planks together. No glue. No clamps. No real understanding of wood joinery. It all came together pretty fast and because it was so close to Thanksgiving I chose to simply throw some tablecloths on top to protect the unfinished wood.  

If you're wondering why all of this took place last Thanksgiving and I'm just now blogging about it, I'll tell you. My unfinished table sat in that state for almost an entire year. Oh the shame. I really did have the best intentions and tried to keep it covered with table cloths until I could finish it. Of course, after spills and laundry and general upkeep I lazily gave up on the table cloth idea leaving it naked and exposed to fend for itself. The amount of spilled white wine and coffee rings that poor table endured is innumerable. It also quickly turned into my work bench and was used for many wood cutting, staining and painting projects. Eventually, because I didn't join the wood correctly in the first place, the boards all started to separate and raise and lower over time. In fact, I think the only thing my poor table wasn't exposed to was actual food as we continued to eat in front of the TV despite the large unfinished and ignored structure looming in the other room.   

Shortly after finishing my living room design, I started looking for my next project. And I knew it was time. I had to finish the table. I mustered up some zeal and began the process of removing the table from its base and then the 1x4s connecting the planks. During this step I decided to remove one of the planks altogether. Originally I had chosen to make the table with five planks because odd numbers and stuff. But, I mean, it really was huge.

I then solidified my design blogger status by purchasing a Kreg Jig and used it to make pocket holes to join my planks together. Ah, the Kreg Jig, how you make woodworking accessible. Some wood glue and pocket screws and I had a table top again!

Then it was time to sand. Up to this point I'd been working on the construction in my dining room. There was absolutely no way I would be able to carry the table outside to sand it (it's a beast). It was also cold. So I did what any conscientious wife would do and threw random tarps and sheets over my husband's piano, guitars, and other expensive music-making paraphernalia, then started sanding away. It appears I forgot to take photos of this process, but you get the idea. Early morning before work sanding, late at night after work sanding, all day, everyday, sanding. This went on for sometime and we lived with sawdust in our socks (and our lungs) for over a week. Oh yeah, and all that surface abuse my table had previously undergone was now arrogantly mocking me as I tried to sand out the imperfections. I've since convinced myself that it just adds to the "rustic" charm. 

Once I had the table oh so smooth, all the tarps came down and were moved to the living room floor. I needed an area I could stain the table over the course of several days without the worry of a rogue glass or piece of half-eaten food landing on its unsealed surface. To be safe I started on the bottom of the table and only had a minor panic attack when I realized the first stain I picked was red! My second stain attempt, Golden Oak, was much better (thanks, Erin!). Three coats later and I was ready for poly. 

Unfortunately, this is when I noticed the table had started bowing. Because I'd joined the planks together with the pocket holes and screws I mistakenly assumed I no longer needed the 1x4s. However, it turns out what I did need was more support. I reattached the boards under the table and (success!) I had a flat table again. 

After three coats of polyurethane I moved it back into the dining room and officially called it done.