how to build a farm table
My grandma has had a clawfoot table forever, and I’ve been in love with it, well, like forever.  So a few years ago, I decided to ditch my crappy Walmart pub table we’d had since we got married (add that to the fads I jumped on board with), and go on the hunt for one of my own.  At the time I went looking they weren’t all that popular, so they were fairly easy to find in the classifieds, but I was pretty particular about what those claw feet needed to look like.  There are a lot of options out there, and the feet seem to be wimpy and small on a lot of them. I wanted mine to be substantial, and it HAD to have those “toe” details (a lot of them are just rounded).  Anyway, I was over the moon when I found one that I loved–not quite as much as my grandma’s honestly–the feet on hers are HUGE–but I was more than satisfied, especially since it only cost me 30 bucks!  But, I quickly realized there were two problems:  One: it was small and didn’t come with a leaf, and once the three of us sat down to the table, there was virtually NO room to put our food on the table, and two: the round shape that I thought was better suited to our tight dining area, really just wasn’t better. So I lived with it for a couple of years, because I really loved those claw feet, but one day, after yet another juggling act dinner, I decided I’d had enough.  The fact my style has changed a lot, and it was starting to feel just a little too country for my taste gave me a good little push too, so naturally, I decided to just rip the old top off and build a bigger one that’s better suited to my space.

My favorite part about this is that you can completely customize the size of the table to fit your space. So let’s get on with the how-to:

You’ll Need:
2×10’s (or 8’s or 6’s–whatever size you want)
1×4’s cut about 4 inches shorter than the WIDTH of the table
1/4 ” screws

Figure out what size you want your table.  I’m visual when it comes to this stuff, so I taped it off on my rug, (remember you’ll need to account for space for the chairs too).  Also, remember to measure in multiples of 10 or 8 (I feel a little cool that I just used “multiples” in a sentence because I’m totally horrible at math), whatever width you’ve chosen for your boards.  Meaning, I knew I wanted 10″ boards, so a 55″ inch wide table was not an option, it needed to be 50″ or 60″, unless you want to attempt splitting one of these babies, straight, lengthwise, which I didn’t–we’re going for ease here.

Then I took my measurements to Lowes and had them cut.  And here’s a learn-from-my-mistakes part: let the wood sit in your house for a few days (preferably a week) so that the wood can acclimate.  I built mine the same day I bought the wood, and because I didn’t let the wood contract/expand at home, a few weeks later I’ve ended up with some fairly wide gaps between the boards.  It’s an easy fix, but better to do it right the first time, right?

(Apparently this measuring part also makes for a great stage to dance with toy knives, of all things, so someone couldn’t really be bothered to get out of the pictures.  And no judging the state of my house mmkay.)

Next I took the top off of my old table–it was just a matter of unscrewing it in a couple of places.  I laid the wood down with the what would be the top, down and made sure that the ends were all lined up before I started working.  I originally thought I’d just be able to lay the base down and screw it in, but I discovered these bolts sticking out.  Taking them out wasn’t really an option, because they are how the base is secured.  If I took this piece off, I was left with the round, hollow base, which is a lot more difficult to secure than this flat piece of wood.  So…to accommodate for these, I colored on the end of the bolts with a dry erase marker, and then flipped it over in the exact spot I wanted it to go and pressed it down so that marks were left where these screws needed to go.  (Hopefully the picture helps it make more sense.)  I could have measured and marked, but remember that whole, I-suck-at-math thing?  This was just easier.
Then I took my biggest drill bit, measured how deep I needed the hole (you don’t want it to go all the way through), and taped off the bit to give me a guide on where to stop drilling.  (One of those little rectangular shaped bits with the point on the end–technical term–would work better for this, but I couldn’t find mine.)
Drill the holes where you’ve marked, tip it back over, and the bolts should fit right down into the little holes so everything now sits flush.  Next, just screw it down to the wood.  I used the holes that were already there and just put the old screws back in (you can see them along the outside edges of the base).
Next screw the 1×4’s across the width of the table to secure all of the “planks” together.  This picture is just to give you a visual of how and where to screw it in.  I realized after I secured it with this piece of wood, that it was too small (actually, the wise husband sort of led me to that realization) and it was still really wobbly.

So we got a 1×4, made it a little longer this time (about 4 inches–2″ on each end–shorter than the width of the table) and screwed that one down.  Wobble: GONE.  This thing is secure! You don’t need both, the 1×4 works just fine. Little note: I’m not trying out for an ugly feet contest here, I was holding down the board while the Mr. screwed it down–just wanted to clear that up.

Flip it over and it’s ready for sanding and staining!  I’ll be back next week to tell you all about my love affair with stain and all the ins and outs of getting a great finish.
how to build a table
You can find Part II
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  1. says

    And here I was about to build legs for our new table. We have a ped table right now we could just reuse the base instead of spending all that money on extra wood! Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. says

    Jenn, You have done really wonderful the chairs and varieties in tables. I just decided this morning that I think it’s time to build me a table. I love mine, but I’m ready for something a little larger. :) and, like you… I can always sell it if it’s not what I wanted.

    love your tables!

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