Kendra, my wife, asked for a dining room table almost 4 years ago, after we have bought 2 dining room tables and sold those because they didn't fit our room. It always seemed like other things got in the way but not this year. 2015 is the self proclaimed "year of the wife", meaning this is the year where she will get all the large furniture items she has been asking for (and she hasn't asked for much). So I am starting on the project that will benefit the whole family, a dining room table is usually where the family congregates. It has become important for us to eat dinner as a family, most nights, instead of sitting in front of the T.V. It gives us a chance to catch-up on our days and talk to our son about his day at school. The size of the table was 95% the deciding factor. I didn't want to build a table to bit for our next space, thus us getting rid of another table. I didn't really know what I wanted to go with until Marc Spagnuolo, a.k.a. The Wood Whisperer, posted his outdoor table build back in September of 2013. It was a style I liked and better yet it was simple and had benches! That eliminated the need for 6+ chairs. The only down fall, I didn't have all the machines to make the curves and finesse them. Plus I don't have a jointer to mill stock, so I couldn't use rough stock. And S4S 8/4 stock is generally really expensive. So I made the changes to the plan to suit our needs.
The materials I chose were based off the finish my wife wanted. She loves the look of the base being distressed painted and the top being stained a nice dark color. We also have 2 young kids (and all my son's friends) that will beat up on the table. So it didn't make since to go with an expensive hardwood for the base when it was going to be painted and potentially beaten up. I reached out to my friends at Osborne Wood Products, inc. to get a custom size leg in their "paint grade" wood, which is actually soft maple. They quickly built them and shipped me 4 table legs and 8 bench legs. After sitting in my shop for months, it was time to get more lumber. I looked through all my stock and couldn't find anything that could work for the aprons and supports, so there was a decision to make... I wanted the top to a little nicer than Pine, so I needed to cut cost somewhere without sacrificing quality. A good, straight, kiln dried 2x4 would work nicely. So off to the big box store to spend hours sorting through all the 2x4s to find the best they had.
The time has come when I wanted to use something different than pocket holes or traditional mortise and tenon. I would have loved to use a Festool Domino but I just couldn't find it in my shop (shhh, I don't actually have one yet!) This is a good time to use nice thick dowels and I just happened to have this awesome doweling jig from JessEm. You don't have to use this exact jig. You can use the Dowelmax, Dowelmax Jr., or this super simple jig from Rockler.
I recommend using three ½" dowels per joint. If you don't have a ½" doweling jig then just use a few more dowels per joint. All the joinery methods mentioned above will workI just chose to go with something different. Use what you have, the important thing is you get out in your shop and start building.
When it comes time to assemble the table base make sure you give yourself plenty of time and space. You will need to work quickly and because of the size it is easier if you have a someone to help.
There a few things that are a must when assembling this table base: Clamps, a good glue, mallet, and glue brush.
Clamps: You can never have to many clamps. The longer the better for this project. If you can't afford the 82" Parallel Clamps that you will need to assemble the base and top then use a couple shorter clamps joined together to span the distance, use Pipe Clamps, or use a Band Clamp.
Mallet: You can use a dead blow mallet or a carver's mallet. But you need one in order to make sure the dowels are seated all the way in the holes.
When it comes to glue up I do it in parts. I first glue up my stretchers and lower legs supports, then clamp them together so I can move them as one assembly.
I then glue the long side aprons to the legs, lay them on their sides and attach the short apron pieces. I then take my support assembly and drop it in place.
I take my other leg assembly and drop it on the rest of the base. This is when an extra set of hands is the most useful because you need to stand the table up and clamp it. If you do not have enough clamps to put the adequate pressure on ALL the joints then glue of the base in parts and let dry before you move on to another part.
The Original Plans
The original plans came from Marc Spagnuolo over at The Wood Whisperer. Head to his website to check out his build in a 2 part series, Part 1 & Part 2. Over there you can download his plans and see his video on how the base was assembled. Since we had camera trouble I wasn't able to get video of mine being assembled.
The PDF Plan and SketchUp File will continue to be updated until the build is complete. Once the build is complete all the plans will be in their final state.