Dining Table - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Furniture Project 


Dining Table

Illustration by Mike Del Rizzo


Danny Proulx passed away November 26, 2004, shortly after this article was contributed. Danny was to present a three part series including this dining table, matching chairs, and hutch. We will be presenting Danny’s chairs in the next issue, and Luc Rousseau, a long time friend of Danny, will present the hutch project in Danny’s honour.

This is the first in a series of three projects you can build for your dining room. This installment deals with the construction of an expandable dining room table. In the second article we will show you how to build dining room chairs, and in the final article we’ll build a beautiful buffet and hutch to complete the set. My friend and associate, Luc Rousseau, will be helping me build these projects. He will also show you how to upholster the chairs, in the second article. This 44" wide table is 60" long when closed, and expands to 100" when the two leaves are installed. We bought our 46" table extender hardware from Lee Valley (item # 17K15.12), but you can find them at most woodworking stores. We secured the table top, the feet, and the stretcher board, with bolts, so that it can be taken apart if it has to be moved. With the top being solid 5/4 (1 ¼") stock, it’s a fairly heavy table. Considering its weight, along with its width, you’ll have to take it apart to get it into most dining rooms.

Depending on where you get your lumber, and what type of wood you use, the cost of this project will be around $900. Having said that, a 5/4 thick solid oak table would be fairly hard to find on the retail market and you can bet that it would cost a lot more than that. Also, although this table is on the expensive side, it is a real beauty and is sure to last you a lifetime.

• Cut 16 lengths of ¾" oak stock (A) to the size indicated. Set the table saw blade at 22 ½° and cut one mitred edge on all pedestal boards. Cut the mitres as close to one edge as possible. Move the fence so the 22 ½° rip mitre can be cut on the opposite side of each board with a 3” wide face measured between the longest points of the mitres (widest or outside face).

Cut mitred edge on all pedestal 

• It’s critical that your table saw blade is set at 22 ½° for the mitred rip cuts. A ¼° variation, off the 22 ½° setting, can build up to quite a large error over the 32 mitres. Use a fixed angle gauge to set the blade angle (such as the Poly-Gauge made by Veritas from Lee Valley Tools, part # 05N14.01) or cut two angles on test boards that can be measured with a combination square at 45°, when the mitres are joined.

• Lay 8 column boards (A) face down on three lengths of masking tape. Coat each of the 16 edges with a thin layer of yellow glue.

• “Roll” the boards into a circle and add extra tape to hold them securely. Clean the excess glue with a damp cloth.

• Use three band clamps to pull the joint edges tightly together. Follow the same procedures for the second column, then set both aside until the adhesive cures.

• The 6 feet (B) are made using 1 ⅝" stock that’s 5 ¼" wide. Create a pattern template, and transfer onto the foot stock.

Lay column boards face down on masking tape and apply glue

Roll boards and add tape 

Create and transfer pattern template onto foot stock

• Use a band saw to cut out the 6 feet following your template lines. Sand all the surfaces smooth making certain that the face, which connects to the pedestal column, is plumb when the foot is resting on a level surface. The bottom of the vertical face of the foot, which connects to the pedestal column, should be 2" above that level surface.

• Make a drill template for the hanger bolt positions on the feet and pedestal columns. This template serves as a positioning guide, and can be made with scraps of ½" plywood or any material in your waste bin. Drill two pilot holes, one at 1” above the stop and the second at 2" above the bottom stop. These will guide your pilot drill when the stop is resting on the lower portion of the feet or pedestal columns. The holes in the column should be ⅜” diameter and the holes in the foot faces should be 5/16" diameter.

• Install two ⅜" diameter by 3" hanger bolts in each leg. They can be easily driven into position by locking two nuts together on the shaft.

• Use a ⅜" radius router bit to ease both faces on all the feet. Do not round over the bottom (horizontal) or front (vertical) edges of the feet.

• Bolt three feet to each column using ⅜" washers and self-locking nuts.

• The column stringer (C) is 1 ⅝" x 16". Round over all edges and install two ⅜" diameter by 3" hanger bolts in each end. I located the bolts 1” from the top and bottom edges on each end of the stringer. Drill the appropriately located holes in the column bases for the stringer bolts.

• Join the two columns to the stringer using ⅜" washers and self-locking nuts.

Make drill template for hanger bolt positions 

Install hanger bolts

Bolt three feet to each column 

Join stringer to both columns 

• Use the remaining 1 ⅝" stock (left after cutting the feet) to make the two platform support blocks (D). These are installed inside each pedestal column using glue, clamping until the adhesive sets up. Set both flush with the top edges of the columns.

• The table extender support platform (E) is made using 3/4" veneer plywood. Cut the panel and cover all edges with iron-on veneer banding. Trim the veneer banding using a flush trim bit in a router.

• Install two ⅜" diameter by 3" hanger bolts in each platform support block (D). Drill ⅜" diameter holes in the extender platform to attach it to the columns. Equalize the overhang on each side and at both ends. Secure the platform with washers and nuts.

• Cut the 20 lengths (F) of 1 ¼" material for the table top. Arrange the boards and number their position. Straighten all the edges using a jointer to achieve a perfect fit from board to board.

Make and install platform support block inside each pedestal column

Install two hanger bolts in each 

Straighten all edges of table top boards with jointer

• Cut or edge dress the boards, and divide them into four sections. Two will be 30" wide by 44" long for the table ends. The remaining two will be 20" wide by 44" long for the table extension inserts. To minimize cupping and crowning, alternate the growth rings on each board as you lay them side by side. Use biscuits at 4” on center to help with the alignment of the wide, heavy panels. The biscuits are used in this application more to help with board alignment, than for strength. The goal at this point is to align the boards so that they are perfectly flat on the top surface. Glued edges tend to slip a great deal, so the biscuits will make the procedure much easier. To help maintain the “flatness” of each section, alternate your clamps on the top and bottom of each panel. Remove the excess glue with a damp rag before it can penetrate the wood, then set the panels aside to dry.

• Sand all the panels smooth before beginning this step. The top will be finish sanded when all the sections are together but an initial sanding should be done now. Place the two ends, top side down, on a flat surface, butted together. Attach table top extenders (Lee Valley part #17K15.04) to the top fixed ends. Lumber expands and contracts to a much greater degree on its width so attaching hardware to the top must be done with that in mind.

• I’ve expanded the hole size in the extenders and used slotted, as well as small round washers, to allow for wood movement. Try to place the screw in the centre of each enlarged hole and tighten so the screws are snug. Carefully align the table extenders so they are parallel with each other to allow the table to operate smoothly. The centre fixed rail of each extender is spaced 16" apart measured to the outside face. I used 3" screws and washers as shown to secure the extenders to the table tops.

• Once both extenders are secured to the table top, attach the pedestal base. Leave the table upside down on your workbench and drive 2" screws through the base platform (E) into the centre fixed bars on the extenders. Be sure to drill pilot holes for the screws.

• Install a lever lock assembly (Lee Valley Part #13K04-01) between the two fixed table sections, along with one at each leaf section. Keep the locks close to the outside edge to provide room for the skirt boards that will be installed 4" back from the edges.

• Install four ½" diameter dowels, (with corresponding holes in the opposite section edges) in each fixed and leaf section. Build and use the simple jig that’s shown in the photo to help keep the drill bit aligned properly. If you don’t want to use wood dowels as locating pins, you can buy a metal version at most woodworking stores.

Secure extenders to table tops platform support block

Install lever lock assembly

Build and use simple jig to keep drill bit aligned

• Draw a 5" radius line at each corner (use a jar top or can that’s approximately 5" in diameter) and rough cut close to the line with a jig saw. Use a belt sander to smooth the curve at each corner. Then, fit a ⅜” radius round over bit in your router and round over the top and bottom table edges. Take small cuts with a number of passes, because some types of wood, such as oak, tend to splinter easily.

• Remove the two leaves and turn the table up side down on your work bench. A skirt (¾" x 3") will be installed to hide the table mechanism. The corners will be formed using 4" boards (measured between the longest mitre edges) cut at 45° and joined to the side and end skirt boards using pocket hole joinery. If you haven’t had much experience with pocket hole joinery, more information can be found in my book, “The Pocket Hole Drilling Jig Project Book”. Cut the 4 corner pieces (G) to size by mitreing them at 45° on both ends. They should measure 4" between the longest points of the mitred cuts. Using pocket hole joinery and glue, join two corners to two sides skirts and one of the end skirts, to form two ‘U’ shaped assemblies. You’ll need a simple alignment jig (as shown in photo) to properly align and attach the parts. Note that the straight pieces receive the pocket holes and are secured to the corner pieces (G) with 1" pocket screws.

• Use a sander to remove the excess material on the skirt corners and round each corner.

• Cut the 20 skirt blocks (K) to the size indicated in the materials list. These can be made using the thick board cutoffs. Each block requires two screw holes so the blocks can be secured to the table and leaf skirts with glue and 2" screws. They also require a slot in the top to allow for table top expansion and contraction. Note that 16 of the blocks have a slot running parallel to each side skirt and leaf skirt board. The four end blocks are cut the same way but the slot is cut at 90° to the end skirt boards.

• Attach the blocks to each skirt assembly, as well as to the four leaf skirt boards, with glue and 2" screws. Once again, note the difference in slot direction for the side and end skirt blocks. Drive a 2" screw through the mid point of each slot, with a slot washer, into the table top to secure the skirt boards, which are positioned 4" in from the table edges.

Make and use alignment jig to attach corners to skirt

Attach skirt blocks to skirt assembly

• Attach each skirt assembly so they align at the centre point of the table. Then, when those two sections are attached, install the table leaves, and attach the remaining four skirt boards. Finally, flip the table right side up and complete the final sanding. I will be applying five coats of oil based high gloss polyurethane with a 220 grit sanding between each coat. Finishing styles and colours are a personal choice so pick one that you like or that will match other furniture in the dining room. That completes the table building process. In the next issue Luc will be showing you how to build chairs so that you’ll be able to sit at your newly completed table. Good luck with your table project.

Tip: Use large square to ensure that foot surface is square and flat

Tip: Set blade angle using fixed angle gauge

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