2012 Thanksgiving

“Honey our dining room table isn’t big enough. 
Okay, lets just make a bigger one ?!?”

This is a little snippet of the conversation Alexandra and I had when we embarked on having our first Thanksgiving dinner.  We expected about 12 people for dinner and our table barely fit 6.  Even with the kitchen table we could only do 9.  We had been looking to get an old farm table from local antique stores, but any example we saw was way out of our price range.  I had seen these tables and determined they looked liked they had been put together in a farmer’s barn, not out of a craftsman’s workshop.  If we wanted a farm table I knew I could make one myself.  We tapped into a friend who was a general contractor and another who was an amateur cabinet maker.  With plans in hand we knew this was possible and nothing could stop us.

First we had to find the wood.  We had planned on some type of reclaimed wood.  We took to Google and with one strike of the search key we found Manayunk Timber and called Steve. Steve is man who smells of sap and loves wood, he  was happy to work with a small project and eager youngins.  His place is nestled behind a miniature golf course in the hills of Manayunk.  Steve got very excited when he began to tell us the story of the wood we had picked out.  The wood came from framework in an old factory in Manayunk, that was built in the 1880’s.  These white pine timbers were massive and Alexandra just couldn’t wrap her head around how big they were.

The wood came from framework in an old factory in Manayunk, that was built in the 1880’s.

We ordered our wood not knowing for sure what the final product would look like, but Steve assured us the wood would be beautiful. After about a week Steve called, our planks were ready.  When we got to the shop and inspected the pieces  we breathed a sigh of relief, Steve was right, the planks were wonderful.  Some of the pieces were a little rough but they looked amazing.  The rough spots just gave it great character.  So, after seeing the large lag screw holes and knots Alexandra and I couldn’t wait to set started.  The sane day we went to Home Depot and Woodcraft to get the rest of the supplies and ask for some advice.  We were off and running and on a time crunch.

Kreg Jig K4 Pocket Hole System

To attached the boards we built an oak frame seen below.  A large table like this can warp and separate over time.  In order to curtail warping and shrinkage we need to form a strong under structure.  It was suggested by our friend and Alexandra’s Dad that we used pocket screws.  This is a sturdy form of construction for this type of project. So, off we went to Woodcraft. There we worked with the staff to find the best tools and the best pocket screws.  We had never used these screws before so with a little more  instruction we walked out with a nice kit from Kreg.  You can see the pocket holes in the picture below.

Table 231

Next we cranked up the heat in the garage and got started.  We trimmed the top boards and glued them together.  Alexandra’s Dad let us borrow a ton of his long clamps and it went together without a problem.  The top turned out great, we piled on the glue and even with the rough spots it has held together no problem, even a year later.  As you can see the table was not small and we used a lot of clamps.

Table 196

We wanted to give the table a bit of an industrial feel and try to make it unique. The table was going to be heavy so we needed an easy way to move it.  Legs made of large pipes with connected flanges would do the trick.  The flanges would be attached using carriage bolts fastened through the top of the table.  This would give it an industrial feel plus making it really easy to remove the legs.  I bought the pipes at Home Depot and luckily found the flanges on Amazon.com.  I would not recommend this if you’re embarking on your own table.  The metal pipes and flanges were more than half the cost of the entire project.   Here are close up pictures of the legs and flanges.

Table 228 Table 230








We finished the table off with a natural color stain and 3 coats of polycrylic. We don’t use polyurethane anymore, polyacrylic provides a great finish and it is water based.  Water based anything just makes life a lot easier.  We also used a few pine sideboards to form the apron and cover up the oak frame underneath.

Overall this was a challenging project but not one I wouldn’t do again.  It was a lot of hard work with a couple long days and more than a couple long nights.  The satisfaction of making a excellent looking hand crafted table is priceless.  The table came out amazingly well and we might make another one to share with the Hen and Chic community.  It took us a little over a week and we finished it about 2 days before Thanksgiving.  This table is definitely a show stopper and a conversation piece. I hope you agree how wonderfully our table turned out.

2012 Thanksgiving 029

Thanks to everyone that made it happen

Products Used

1 Comment

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