Today I'm sharing how I, a completely inexperienced carpenter, built a dining room table.
...with the help of an actually experienced carpenter.
Our apartment in Portland was pretty small, with only a kitchen nook that would accommodate a little square table. Because I love to have people in my home for meals, this didn't deter me. I brought in long plastic folding tables and squeezed them in wherever I could when I wanted to host a gathering. But I dreamed of eventually having a long farmhouse table. When I saw this tutorial almost three years ago, I got it into my head that I would build one as soon as we had the space.
Since thick boards of reclaimed wood have become very expensive and hard to come by, I purchased new wood and went about "aging" it. I used 2x8 pine boards cut to 6 1/2 feet long. I actually waited to build the table until we'd closed on our house so I could see exactly how large a table our new place would accommodate. This one seats six comfortably and eight if all of my guests are willing to get to know their neighbors.
The process involved sanding, staining, sanding again, and waxing. I love the finished look of the wood.
Buying new turned table legs was cost-prohibitive, so I was pretty proud of myself when I found a table on craigslist for $35 that had an apron and legs I could use. I detached the (dated tile) top and cut new side boards for the size of our table. I don't have a picture of the old table because sometimes I'm a dingbat, but you can see the top in the background of this photo, taken in the garage.
There was so much to do at our newly-purchased home, so I was thrilled to have gotten this table done before moving in. And it wasn't even that difficult.
This is the point in the story when disaster strikes. As much as broken furniture -- as opposed to famine, natural disaster, or heinous crime -- can be a disaster.
Our ragtag team of movers stacked a crazy amount of stuff on top of this table in the truck. That, along with the incredible weight of the new table top, was too much for the apron to take. The legs collapsed under the strain and snapped the wood corner brackets into pieces. I nearly cried.
After that, the table top sat against the wall in our new dining room for at least a month. Refinishing cabinets, countertops, and a crib took precedence, along with taking care of a seven-month old, of course.
It seemed to me that I was physically incapable of moving to fix the table. I was paralyzed with fear that if it had buckled under the weight of some boxes, it might collapse on top of my crawling baby. Just when I thought we'd be eating dinner at a card table forever... again... my dear friend Adam, an experienced builder and selfless friend, swooped in to save the day. He helped me attach metal corner brackets and drilled holes down into the legs and up into the table top for giant dowel rods. This thing isn't going anywhere.
I almost cried again. Finally my dream had become a reality.
In the end, I saved hundreds, if not thousands, by building this myself. You might say I paid in other ways, but I still don't regret the journey. I learned so much and I came out of it with the table I always wanted.
I guess I would say the moral of the story is: Do attempt to build something. Do enlist the help of someone who knows what he's doing.
As far as styling the table goes, I generally keep it really simple. I love the rustic wood and would be disappointed to cover it up with a table cloth or too much fancy business.
The sweet napkins belonged to my grandparents and my dad can still remember them from his childhood. The placemats came from World Market about eight years ago, as did the votive holder. It was probably the best twenty dollars I ever spent. The jadeite salt and pepper shakers were a gift and they came from Sur la Table. Gracing our table when we're serving Horse feathers are our hammered copper mugs and they can be purchased here. The copper and glass carafe cost me $1.50 at a thrift store and the flowers are creeping phlox from my front walk.
The incredible stained glass is a one-of-a-kind collaboration by my parents. I come by my desire to make things naturally.
A lot of people have asked me about Susanna's highchair.
I was looking for a circa 1940s highchair for months and found this one at a sweet lady's garage sale. It might be my favorite piece of furniture. I can't tell you where to find one, but you can infer my go-to advice for those looking for any baby stuff: Comb those garage sales!
I'd love to hear about any of your building adventures in the comments section. (On that note, it was brought to my attention that some readers were having difficulties leaving comments. Thanks for letting me know; I think I've fixed the glitch!)