Wouldn't it be fantastic to build an elegant dining room table that not only would look great in your dining room but be so well built it could be passed on to future generations? Unfortunately, not many have the skill level or money necessary to buy the tools and materials to build such a table. However, in spite of those limitations, most of us do need one to use for dinner parties and family gatherings. Here are some ideas on how you can go about building a functional, practical, and inexpensive dining room table for yourself.
Step 1 - Choose Your Shape
When you think about it, a dining room table is really just a large flat surface with enough room for people to sit around the outside. Depending on the shape of your room and your personal tastes it can be rectangular, square, oval, round or even some other shape you like. So, you've got a number of options to choose from before beginning the actual building.
Step 2 - Select Your Material
A four-foot by eight-foot sheet of 3/4-inch plywood or MDF can make a great tabletop. You can easily cut it to size, cut or round off the corners, or simply round over all the edges. At 3/4-inch thick, it will be substantial enough to hold a family-sized dinner without any worry about the middle sagging under the weight.
Another alternative is to use a solid or even a hollow core door. Standard doors are available in lengths/heights ranging from 78 to 82 inches and in standard widths of 32, 34, and 36 inches. Again, depending on the size of your room and your personal preferences, you can put together a table as wide or as long as you want.
If you're thinking about using a door as your tabletop (particularly a hollow core door), consider building a frame or box out of lumber the same thickness the door. Miter the corners to get a smooth joint and attach the frame all around the perimeter of the door. This box will effectively add three inches to the width and length of your door/table top while providing additional support for your dining surface.
Step 3 - Attach Table Legs
Turned spindles intended to be used as newel or corner posts for stairs are commonly available at home stores and can easily be used to table legs. It's best to get the larger posts (not the thinner stair spindles) for both appearance and strength. You can attach them to the underside of the table using screws or construction adhesive.
Alternatively, you may be able to reuse material to support your dining table. Cable reels (the large round wooden reels that lengths of electrical cables are shipped on) are strong and just the right height when placed on their side. You may be able to get two of them at an electrical wholesaler for at minimal cost or even free; they often have stacks of them outside their warehouse. You want two reels that are about 29 inches wide to provide the proper height for your table. Simply lay your tabletop on top of the reels and screw or glue it in place.
Step 4 - Add a Finish
Paint or stain your table top and attached legs for a protective coating that will allow the wood to last. Place a table cloth over the surface for a finishing touch, and once the chairs are place around the outside, most people won't even notice your table isn't a piece of finely-crafted furniture.
Looking for a new dining room table? Compare brands, types and prices with our Tables Buyer's Guide.