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DIY Modern Farm Dining Table

When Jared and I bought our first house earlier this year the one room that we had absolutely zero furniture for was our dining room.  This was the blank slate we had to fill:

I got as far as painting those plum walls a nice warm red, and then went looking for decor inspiration.  I immediately fell in love with this collection from Pottery Barn:

Pottery Barn Benchwright Dining Table

Unfortunately the table and chairs in the picture came to about $4,000.  Thankfully, it was around this same time that I discovered Knock Off Wood.  I saw the plans for the Modern Farmhouse Table and convinced Jared that we could just build our own table. Yet another shining example of my tendency to bite off way more than I can chew!  But it did make sense for us – we wanted a hard wood table that would last us several years and everything in our budget was wood veneer (including the table this plan is based on at West Elm.)  So we bought a miter saw and headed to Wood Crafters here in Portland.  Why didn’t we just go to Home Depot and get all our lumber for $30 like the plan says?  Because if we were going through all the effort to build a dining room table that was to last a generation, we were going to use high quality – and most importantly – STRAIGHT boards.  I can’t stress how important it is to have straight boards when building this table.  So, we ended up spending about $500 on wood, and received priceless advice from the kind folks at Wood Crafters who took pity on us and didn’t make us feel like our stupid questions were – well, stupid.

The table frame was easier than we thought to put together and get square.  A little too easy, actually, since the next steps would prove rather frustrating.

One plank in!  So easy!  Yeah, one goes in great – it’s getting all 6 in place that makes you want to give up and start rationalizing how artsy and different a one planked dining table would be.  Apparently, no matter how straight and perfect boards look to the naked eye, when you try to squeeze them in together you discover that each has its own little geographical quirks and that you’ll need to try every combination possible before finding the perfect fit.  Fun.

A million screws and 10+ passes with the sander later, and we were ready to stain.  We used gel stain at the recommendation of the guys at Wood Crafters and it was about how I thought it would be – a pain in the rear, unforgiving, and a complete mess.  But the result was beautiful.

The final step was to apply multiple coats of table top varnish.   Then it was off to West Elm for chairs and a rug (Garvey leather chairs and the Jute Boucle rug, to be exact.)  A few candles, a handful of plants, a lot of picture frames and we finally had a formal dining room…

What I love about this table is that if it ever gets screwed up, we can sand, stain, re-coat with varnish, and it’ll be as good as new.  You can’t do that with wood veneer!  (I repeated those last two sentences to myself about 50 times during the course of making this table.)  In the end, we probably ended up spending about $600 to build and finish the table, and about $1500 for the chairs and rug.  We got the rustic formal dining room of my dreams for a lot more work but almost half the cost.  Not too shabby.

{ 19 comments }

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  • Lindsey August 6, 2010, 7:51 am

    It’s BEAUTIFUL! I love your wedding pics and the plants in the background!

    Reply
  • Ana White August 13, 2010, 1:26 am

    Your table is stunning, perfect, amazing. It will last forever. I am so amazed. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply
    • allie August 13, 2010, 9:09 am

      Wow, thanks Ana!!!! That means so much coming from you considering you’re the one who designed the plan! :-D Your designs are such an inspiration… thank you thank you thank you!

      Reply
  • Selina August 17, 2010, 11:10 am

    I LOVE this!!!!!! I think it looks better than PB!

    Reply
    • allie August 18, 2010, 9:32 am

      Thanks, Selina!!! :)

      Reply
  • Johannes February 8, 2011, 1:32 pm

    looks great! What kind of wood did you use?

    Reply
    • allie February 8, 2011, 1:47 pm

      Thanks! We used Douglas Fir.

      Reply
  • Jessica February 22, 2011, 4:41 pm

    Gorgeous!! Can please tell me exactly which brand and color gel stain you used.Thanks!

    Reply
    • allie June 3, 2011, 11:47 am

      Hi Jessica! Sorry it took me ages to get back to you. In case you’re still wondering, we used General Finishes Gel Stain in Java.

      Reply
  • Lori May 3, 2011, 1:55 pm

    Gorgeous!! Great job on the table; and your dining room is lovely!!

    Reply
  • Bryan May 29, 2011, 4:55 am

    Can you tell me how you did the top? Specifically, did you use wood filler between the planks or did you just leave them with cracks in between? Also, what color stain did you use? How about sealer? And suggestion on the screws, etc? Finally did you brace it all? It seems to me that it could get a bit wobbly after a while given that the joints are just 2x6s screwed in with what looks like 3 screws. Thanks!

    I’m totally going to build this here in Japan.

    Reply
    • allie June 3, 2011, 11:45 am

      Hi Bryan… we did not use wood filler between the planks, but debris does get caught in the cracks so if that’s a major concern for you you could certainly fill them. I just vacuum the top of the table every now and then and that takes care of it.

      We used General Finishes Gel Stain in Java, and a Tabletop Varnish for the top clear coat (don’t remember the brand.)

      We definitely struggled with the screws and even though we rubbed each on on a bar of soap first, we still ended up stripping several. I highly recommend picking up a couple screw extractors from your hardware store to have handy as you build the table. They were a lifesaver for us.

      We didn’t have to brace the table at all, and haven’t had any issues with it being wobbly… it’s actually incredibly sturdy, which was a pleasant surprise for the first piece of furniture we ever made. I think the key is all the slats underneath the planks.

      Let me know if you have any other questions! Good luck!!! :)

      Reply
  • Olivia Watson May 22, 2012, 2:06 pm

    The table looks amazing. What size and how much wood did you use?

    Reply
  • Shelby McAndrew August 23, 2012, 6:57 am

    This is beautiful!! Do you know what dimensions you used when purchasing the boards?

    Reply
  • Jake April 4, 2013, 8:51 pm

    Great looking table, I’m pretty much going to try and copy it.

    Reply