I mentioned awhile back that I was really unsatisfied with the look of the table top I’d built to go with the black pipe frame for our dining room. Probably why I never bothered to attach it. Somewhere in my mind I knew it was temporary. In looking towards making a headboard, I realized the existing table top would be the perfect size. Once we’d built a new one, I’d take this one and turn it into our headboard. Hence the joke we always crack about eating on our headboard. A joke we’ve now had for a few months as I’ve procrastinated getting around to actually building a new table top.
Here’s a reminder of what it looked like before:
With the Mister’s family coming up for a visit this weekend and our wish to have the whole family eat at our home rather than try and go to a restaurant, I decided tackling the table this week was a must. This time around, I was going to do this correctly. I wanted thicker boards so opted for 2″ instead of 1″. I wanted a traditional farmhouse tabletop, so horizontal boards with two breadboards on the end as opposed to all vertical boards (originally done to mimic the look of recycled pallet wood).
Wanting to keep the size roughly the same (3′ x 5′), I bought a bunch of 2 x 6’s and a 2 x 8 for the breadboard ends and cut them down to size when we got home using this plan.
When working with wood you’ve bought from a store, you’ll probably find that the dimensions are not always what you think you’re buying. I recommend taking a measuring tape with you when you buy wood just so you know what you’re getting yourself into. The 2×8’s were really 1 3/4 x 7 1/2 and my 2 x 6’s were really 1 3/4 x 5 1/2. You’ll have to adjust your plan accordingly like the one I’ve shown above.
Also, my little trick when doing this type of tabletop – DONT cut the breadboard pieces until you’ve put together the rest of the table. You want to make sure they’re the exact size they need to be and there might be slight gaps between the main boards when they’re all screwed together. The last thing you want to do is try and attach the breadboard pieces only to realize they’re about 1/8″ short. Trust me… that 1/8″ will drive you nuts when you have to see it everyday. So screw all the main boards together and THEN measure the length and cut the breadboards to that size.
The process is simple. Cut the main boards to size. Drill pocket holes along one side of the underside of all but one board – look in the diagram below if you don’t know why you leave one without those pocket holes. Drill pocket holes at each end of each board on that same underside. These end pocket holes are how you will attach the breadboards. So basically if you’re doing 6 main boards like I did, you’ll have 5 boards with side pocket holes along one side and pocket holes on each end. And one board that will just have the pocket holes on each end, but no side pocket holes. Use this diagram if you’re still confused:
Sand each one with 80 grit sand paper to remove any rough areas caused by shipping. I even rounded all the edges to create a more aged look as well as just minimizing the pain when I inevitably walk into a corner.
Then flip the boards over so the pocket hole side is facing up, clamp them down, and screw each board to the next. I used 1 1/2″ wood screws. This is why you leave one board without side pocket holes. You take the first two, line them up, clamp them, and screw one into the other. That one on the end doesn’t need pocket holes because he’s on the end… he has no board to be screwed into.
Another trick – to keep all the boards level, take two pieces of scrap wood and clamp them on either side. This eliminates the problem of flipping the whole thing over and realizing you’ve got one board that’s slightly raised creating a nice smooth surface… kind of important when it’s a table.
Once you’ve got the main table put together, measure the length of each end where the breadboards will attach. Cut the 2 x 8 to that length and using the pocket holes you’d drilled into the ends of each board screw the main boards to the breadboards. Mine felt a little wobbly after this step, so I may attach some extra support boards underneath where the breadboards are attached. Then flip the entire table top over (right side facing up now) and sand everything smooth with 80-grit sandpaper again. I just wanted to make sure that this helped alleviate any unevenness between boards. Then sand with 120-grit and finally 220-grit for a really smooth finish. Take a damp cloth and wipe the whole thing down to remove any dust from the sanding process.
Look for more posts soon on staining, sealing, and putting the whole thing together!