At the beginning of the year, I decided it was finally time to fill our empty dining room with a homemade table. I knew I wouldn’t have the strength to handle it on my own and I knew Steve wouldn’t have the time to help me. This is where I volunteered my dad’s services. Yes he lives in Idaho, and no he wasn’t going to come to Arizona to help me. I came up with the brilliant idea to work on the project this summer while I was visiting my parents. My dad was skeptical and started asking logical questions like, “how are you going to get it home?”
I’m a dreamer and questions like that don’t often deter me from a project – I’d figure it out eventually. I started the project while in Idaho this summer with my dad by my side. We used this plan from Ana-white.com. At one point I thought I would be following the plans exactly. But I wanted my table longer…and then I decided I wanted mine wider, I wanted the tabletop to extend more past the legs, I wanted my top to be thicker, I wanted my legs to be chunkier, and before long my table was only loosely based on the plan.
I purchased hard maple from a store out of Boise (each piece varied in width) and we had it planed to the same thickness. While at the wood store, I determined a table wasn’t going to be enough, I also needed a matching bench while I was at it. Once we got the wood home, we went through the painstaking process of figuring out what pieces of wood to use for what parts of the table. We had to rip several pieces of wood to make all the measurements work out properly. We started by laying out the tabletop. Like I said before, every piece differed in width so I layed out the tabletop so the widths varied from one piece to the next. After some serious research online, we determined that we would glue the planks together instead of using pocket screws. We glued three planks at a time – let it dry for several hours, glued three more planks…dry…glue…you get the picture. We used 2x4s clamped on top of the planks as well as below to ensure that the boards stayed level while gluing. We also used clamps to hold the boards tightly together – this process took a lot of clamps! We used enough glue that when clamped it spilled out just a bit. This was easy to scrape off once it dried. After the tabletop was glued together, we squared it up and attached a 4 inch breadboard using pocket screws. We then sanded the whole surface using a belt sander with two different belts and then an orbital sander with two different grit sanding discs. The legs were put together using large 4 1/2 lag bolts – these bolts were later covered with a decorative piece of wood.
Using the same exact method as the table, we created a matching bench.
By this point in the game – my dad is even more skeptical about me getting the table home as I described how I was going to try and attach it to the top of my car. I would keep the legs unattached from the top and create a wooden frame around the table to protect it from any damage – easy peasy right?? I didn’t account for just how heavy a solid wood table would be! Making sure it was protected and safe was a project in itself. Actually getting it on top of my car securely was another battle! I set out on my 17 hour journey with a table strapped to the top of my car – Within the first 45 minutes, I made three stops to adjust, readjust and then stop to purchase more straps to secure it a little better. Luckily – the extra straps was just what it needed to not need to stop again.
Once I got the table home, I proceeded to condition and stain the wood. I did this in our garage in the peak of our Arizona summer. It was hot. Painfully hot. I wanted the table to be really dark which took a lot of coats of Minwax Espresso stain. I finally moved the project inside to finish it up because I couldn’t handle the heat anymore. With more and more stain, I finally got it dark enough. I then used wipe-on poly to seal and protect the surface (I lost count of how many coats but I know it was at least 15! I think it’s going to be protected!)
I then had the pleasure of standing back to admire my (and my father’s) work. It was awesome to not only see the dining room with furniture but to know that I built it. By the time I completed it, it had been a 3 month project – a pregnant belly grows a lot in three months and by the time I was finishing it, I had a hard time leaning to the middle of the table without my belly getting in the way! I love it. I love the color. I love the bench, the chairs. I love that I have another area to display holiday decorations and I love that we have additional seating for family meals. I love it. I love that my dad was willing to help me out and offer up his talents. I love that I’ve completed yet another building project. What should I work on next?!