Dining room tables are meant to be an investment that lasts for years, if given proper maintenance and care. Normally, buying such a timeless piece can cost anything from R10 000 upwards. That’s why we’ve decided to explore various DIY ideas for dining room tables, using reclaimed wood or inexpensive woods, which will cost far less than purchasing a ready-made table.
Pine wood is the most affordable and sustainable wood species in South Africa, and its readily available at Builders hardware stores nationwide. If buying the wooden plank is not something you’d prefer, consider buying other pine products that can be constructed into a DIY dining table. For our table, we used 69mm x 69mm PAR pine or 70mm x 70mm PAR meranti.
Pine is classified as a softwood, which means the wood fibres are not very dense and the surface can easily be damaged. However, after the application of a polyurethane varnish, pine can be just as durable as any other wood.
If you are prepared to spend a little more for making your dining table, Meranti offers a slightly more expensive alternative. This wood, while still classified as a softwood, is denser and not as susceptible to damage as compared to pine.
For both the Pine and Meranti options you should check with your local timber merchant about the sizes they have available in stock. This will help you plan out properly as wood sizes can vary.
If you are lucky enough to stumble upon reclaimed wood beams, these will definitely be of a hardwood species that is ideal for this type of furniture project.
Be sure to inspect any reclaimed wood for signs of wood rot and woodworm before buying any.
CHOOSING THE WOOD
When stocking up on the wood you will need for your dining table, and decided to go with PAR pine, select only those pieces that are straight and have little or no knots. If you are going for a rustic look for your dining table you can select pieces with knots, but make sure that these are not loose or look like they may come loose in the future. Once your table is assembled the wood will continue to expand and contract with ambient conditions and this can result in knots falling out.
If you’re using pine to make your dining table, look for pieces that have a high level of grain, as these will be far stronger than those that have very little grain. The grain is the natural resin within the wood, and it is this resin that increases the tensile strength of the plank or beam.
Meranti is an imported wood that has no knots and minimal grain. This wood varies in colour from a light pine to a more reddish tint. While more expensive than pine, it is still an affordable wood that is easy to work with and available at many timber merchants around the country.
- 10 of 2400mm PAR beams*
- These will be cut to lengths
- 10 of 1800mm – table top
- 8 of 597mm – table sides
- 2 of 300mm – table leg centre top
- 2 of 227mm – table leg centre bottom
- 1 of 1382mm – crossbeam
- 2 of 20mm thick x 30mm long x 20mm high – holding block
- 2 of 94 x 630mm – braces
*This allows for a total table height of approximately 670mm. Slightly lower than the average height of a dining table, which can be between 700mm to 750mm, the height allows for cutting the sections from lengths of 2400mm and cutting down on the amount of wood required.
MAKING THE TABLE
1. To make the top of the dining table you will use a method called laminating. This involves gluing together the individual beams to make one solid top. Use a wood glue that is slightly runny in consistency, such as Ponal wood glue, and clamp the beams together as you work to ensure a strong bond.
2. After cutting the 2400mm lengths down to 1800mm for the table top you will be left with 10 lengths of 597mm (after allowing for a 3mm wide cutting blade). These lengths can be used to form the legs of the table, which are laminated using the same method used for the table top.
GOOD TO KNOW
The centre leg needs to be cut into two sections to allow for fitting the crossbeam that spans between the two legs. Allow a 69mm or 70mm gap between the top and bottom section of the centre leg.
3. The table top will also need bracings underneath for additional support. These braces are screwed to the top of the legs and then mounted to the underside of the table top – 300mm in from each end. Secure the braces with screws along the entire length and on both sides of the legs, so that each beam of the table top is well-secured onto the brace.
GOOD TO KNOW
Make rebates at both ends of the crossbeam as shown below and insert the crossbeam into the two leg sections before mounting the braces to the underside of the table.
4. Use a 20mm spade bit to drill out for the holding block to a depth of 20mm and tidy up around the edges with a sharp wood chisel.
5. Use a rubber mallet to tap the holding block firmly in place at either end of the crossbeam.
A 2400mm length of meranti costs around R295 per beam. Buy this directly from a timber merchant, so you can work at cost of about R3500 for your finished dining table.
Whether you make this dining table for your dining room, for the patio, or as a garden table, apply oil, sealer, varnish or wax for maximum protection and ensure that your new table will withstand wear and tear. Polyurethane varnish such as Plascon Woodcare Ultra Varnish will protect the table from scratches and provide a water resistant finish.