Dinner Table: The (almost) never ending project

To skip the story and see the pics, scroll to the bottom

I posted previously with some teaser pictures of the Dining Room Table project that I started in the winter.

The project started after my wife and I were discussing replacing our outdated table that was passed down from her Grandmother. There was nothing functionally wrong with the table, but it just didn’t fit the otherwise modern style of our house.

The previous owner of our house had been somewhat of a wood hoarder. There was random reclaimed wood scattered around our properly, including several old barn beams. The beams had seen better days, as they had been left outside for the past ~10years underneath the roof overhand of my workshop.

This wood had seen better days. But there was still beauty underneath all the rot.

I decided that I wanted to do this project a little differently than other woodworking stuff that I had done.

I was going to do it entirely by hand…

I thought it would be a fun learning experience to build the table the old-fashioned way, by hand. I started out by cutting the beams into rough planks. Then the fun painful part began. Hand planing down six 8ft planks.

This step led to a lot of evening with the heat pack on my lower back and a TON of wood shavings.

This was AFTER I cleaned up the shavings – as they were almost up to my knees 😛

The only “good” thing about the process was that it was -20° C – and at that point, my workshop wasn’t heated or insulated, so all the manual labour helped to keep me warm 🙂

Eventually, things started to take shape and these were starting to look like usable boards!

Then came the first detour

Detour#1: A place to work

In order to continue building the table, I needed a workbench. I stopped work on the table to build a workbench.

At first, my plan was to build my workbench against the wall of my shop. That caused me to think about the (then unfinished) walls behind the future workbench. I realized that at some point I would want to insulate my shop and close it in. It didn’t make much sense to build a bench off of the wall if I was only going to have to take it down later to finish the walls of the workshop.

Detour #2: Finishing the workshop

I stopped building my workbench so that I could do whatever work I wanted to do on my workshop, at least in the area behind where the workbench would be. Originally this was just: insulate, vapour barrier, and drywall. But then I realized how much of a mess the electrical was, so I redid all the electrical as well.

You can see some pics of that process in my PROGRESS post from earlier this year.

Back on track…. sorta??

Now that my shop was partially finished, heated and I had a small workbench in the corner I was back to working on the table….

…but then it hit me

I’m gonna need a bigger workbench!

The dinner table was going to be approx 4ft x 8ft.  My mini workbench was only 3ft x 8ft. I think you can see the problem with that math. I had always planned on making another standalone workbench for the center of my shop, but much further down the line.

Detour #3: Workbench, part two

The reason that my other workbench was a ‘down the road’ plan, was that I knew it would take me some time to build. I had a particular design that I wanted to make and although I could use up the scrap 2×4’s that I had, it was still going to be a lot of work, planing and jointing all the boards – as I was gluing them together, on end, butcher block style.

Rock solid and as heavy as one too!

The new workbench turned out fantastic. Big enough for all my projects (including this table), sturdy, and a nice natural style.

The Final Stretch

With the second workbench completed, I got back to working on the table. I finished hand planing and sanding all the boards. Then it was time to work on my joinery skills. Sticking with the old-fashioned theme, there was no screws or nails used in making the tabletop. All the planks were joined with floating tenons.

Once they were secured together, it was time to start adding some colour! After hand staining and buffing until I got the desired finish, I sealed the wood.

The table was FINALLY done….. well, sorta?!  The table top was done but it had to legs. Originally I was going to make wooden legs for the table. Then I realized metal legs would better fit our modern style. As well they would match a coffee table we already had. It was time to get out the welder and make some legs. Once problem, I’m a TERRIBLE welder 😛

Since I knew if I did the welding it would not only look terrible, but likely also be structurally unsound – I asked the greatest man I know for help. My Dad. Just like most  Dad’s would, he happily signed on for the project. Then life got in the way.

I went away on vacation, got busy with work, had health emergencies with one of our dogs – etc, etc. So the tabletop sat and waited… and waited… and waited.

Until last weekend, when my dad and I finally welding up the legs for the table, as well as a coffee table and end table that I’m also working on.

With the legs done I thought I was almost done. But then I realized I would need to weld a cross brace on the dining table legs, as there would otherwise be some side to side wobble. The following weekend my dad helped once again and the legs were finished.

The Surprise Ending

Now keep in mind I started this project in December 2016. It is now July. That’s 7months later! This entire time my wife has been anxiously awaiting this dining room table. With the legs now finished she asked if the table would be ready this weekend, I told her no. Despite the welding being done, I would still have to grind down all the welds and sand the steel. Then clean them, paint them, then mount them on the table. She won’t admit it, but I think she was sad when I told her that. And with that, she was off to visit friends for the day.

As soon as she left, I went to work busting my ass to make sure that I would have the table ready and waiting for her return 🙂

It was a long and backbreaking project. I learned a ton though and I’m happy that I did everything the way that I did. I’ve already used lessons that I learned from this project doing other things (like this live edge coffee table I just finished). So in the end, it was totally worth it!