- Ideas & How-Tos
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Turn rough construction lumber into top-notch material to make this affordable table and bench set.
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Building large-scale furniture often requires an oversize investment in tools and materials, but not with this classic dining set. We built this table and matching benches for $145 with stock straight from lumber bins.
Start by cutting four 4"x4" blanks for the legs A to a rough length of 29-1/2". Using a table saw, trim the leg blanks to final width and thickness; using a miter saw, trim the parts to final length (Cutting List, Cutting Diagram).
For the remaining table base parts, cut the long aprons B, short aprons C, corner braces D, and stretchers E to width and length. Cut a 45° miter on both ends of the corner braces (Drawing 1, Project Diagram) and drill a ¼" hole centered on the face of each brace.
Drill holes for the pocket-hole screws in the long and short aprons and the stretchers (Drawing 2, Project Diagram). Note: You will need to set your pocket-hole jig to pre-drill material that is 1" thick. Sand all parts to 220 grit.
Begin building the base assembly by attaching the long and short aprons to the legs using glue and 2" pocket-hole screws (Drawing 3, Project Diagram). Note: Inset the aprons ¼" from the outside face of the legs . (Photo 1)
Glue the corner braces into each corner of the table; reinforce by driving 2" pocket-hole screws through the blocks into the aprons as shown -- no pocket holes are required.
Using a 3/16" bit, drill a pilot hole into the corner of the leg, centering the bit in the ¼" hole you drilled in the corner block (Photo 2). Reinforce the corner joint by driving a ¼" lag screw through the brace into the leg.
Complete the table base assembly by adding the stretchers between the long aprons using glue and pocket-hole screws.
Prepare the four 2"x10"s for the top slats F. Cut the planks to rough length, trim to width, and then cut to final length. Sand the slats to 220 grit.
Now it's time for finishing. Start the process by easing all of the hard edges of the top and table base with 220-grit sandpaper for a smooth feel. Then wipe down the wood with a tack cloth.
Apply a pre-stain conditioner, following the manufacturer's instructions, to prevent the stain from turning blotchy in the soft wood; then apply a stain of your choice to the slats using a foam brush.
When the stain is dry, brush on three coats of a semigloss polyurethane to the table base and slats. Allow each coat to dry; lightly sand between coats with 320-grit sandpaper to remove rough spots.
Place a couple of sanded scrap 2"x4"s on the floor , and lay your slats on them with the best face down. (The 2"x4"s will protect the finished parts from being scratched by the floor.) Align the ends of the slats and butt them against one another.
Center the table assembly on the slats and secure the table base to the slats (Photo 3) with 2" pocket-hole screws through the aprons and stretchers.
With the top secured, add felt pads to the bottom of each table leg.
Can't find non-pressure-treated 4"x4"s in your area? Use 2"x4"s instead. For each leg, cut two boards 31" long, and laminate them together with glue and clamps. When the glue has cured, rip the 3-1/2"-wide laminated blank to 3" in width, taking 1/4" of the width off each edge. Trim the laminated blank to 28-1/2" long, and a 3" square leg is born!
For the benches, use the same procedure to prep the materials as you did with the table: Cut the part 1" longer than called for, trim to width, and then cut to final length. Prepare the material and cut the legs A and the braces B to size (Cutting List, Cutting Diagram). Cut a 6° angle on the tops of the legs using a miter saw (Drawing 1, Project Diagram).
Position two legs on your workbench with the bottoms flush. Cut a ¼"-thick spacer to place between the legs. Center the brace on top of the legs with the bottoms flush, and use the angles cut at the top of the legs to mark the angle at the top of the brace. (Photo 1)
Cut the angle on the brace using a jigsaw. Drill two pocket-holes for securing the seats along the top edge of the braces; sand the legs and braces (Drawing 2) to 200 grit.
Assemble the legs and braces using glue and screws. Position the parts with the bottoms flush, separating the legs with the ¼" spacer (Photo 2). We drilled 1/8" countersunk pilot holes so the screws would drive easily and not strip.
Cut the stretchers C and slats D to length and width. For the stretchers, drill 4 pocket holes equally spaced along the length. Sand the parts with 200-grit sandpaper.
To attach the stretchers to the end assemblies, cut a scrap to 11-7/8" long, turn the end on its side, and place the stretcher in position, supporting the opposite end with the scrap (Photo 3). Predrill the hole and secure the stretcher to the leg brace with glue and screws. Add a second end assembly, flip the bench over, and add the second stretcher.
Apply a finish using the same process you used for the table.
Place one of the seat slats on the bench so the edge of the slat is aligned with the ¼" gap between the legs (Photo 4) and centered end to end on the bench. Secure the slat to the bench by driving pocket-hole screws from the underside. Place the remaining slat in position and secure.
Your bench now just needs some felt pads. Attach them to the leg bottoms and set the table for dinner!
Let your lumber acclimate to your work space for one week prior to machining. The material will stabilize, and the boards will be less likely to twist when you cut the individual parts from the larger pieces.
No Table Saw? No Problem!
If you don’t have a table saw, you can still create the table and benches. With a few modifications to the plans -- and a lot more sanding -- you’ll be ready to go. The table legs and aprons will be 3-1/2" wide and simply cut to length from off-the-rack 2"x4"s and 4"x4"s; the top planks will be 9-1/4" wide and cut to length from standard-issue 2"x10"s; and so on. Just note these minor changes in the plans:
Add 2" to the length of the braces D, and 1" to the length of the stretchers E.
The braces B will be inset 2-3/4" instead of 2-7/8".