Dining Room Table


My wife said that she wanted a new dining room table.  The old one was at least 40 years old and had suffered through raising kids and grandkids.  Time for a new one.  So, I made one.  She later told me that she was going to buy and did not intend to set me to a new project.  Oh, well.  I had fun and learned a few things.  The table started out as a badly weathered redwood slab about 3 ¼” thick by 47” wide by 11’ long.  The seller cut a 1 ¼” slab with a chain saw mill and that was used for another 4’ x 8’ table.   The thicker piece was used for this table and it finished at 1 ¾” by 47” wide by 8’ long (including the cherry edging) and has two 24” wide leaves.  A steel draw mechanism with 52” travel allows the table to extend from 4’ to 8’ long.  The legs are western red cedar from a 12’ long 4 x 4.  It had a very straight grain and a deep brown-red color that nicely complemented the top.

A simple router fixture made from Superstrut and two sawhorses, and a sled also made from strut and MDF allowed me to remove most of the weathering and plane the slab flat.  Strut is a rolled steel channel widely used to support conduit and pipe and to make structural elements in building construction.  It works well for large woodworking fixtures also.

The slab was too large and heavy to handle unaided so I used a gantry crane with a lifting bar made from 2 x 6 fir.  That rigging allowed me to store the slab on edge in the garage, then lift and rotate it flat to set onto the sawhorses.  I also used it to turn the slab over to work on the other side.  The router fixture was assembled under the slab each time it was moved.

The fixture was leveled with a 4’ level and flattened with string lines.  U-shaped plastic shims were used to align the fixture.

One side is planed flat, but more material is to be removed.  Knot holes and large cracks were filled with sanding dust and clear epoxy.  Smaller defects were filled with dust and CA glue.  The patches have a deeper color that blends well with the redwood.  About 20 coats of gloss polyurethane varnish were required for the top.  The varnish just vanished into the wood leaving a blotchy finish.  A skirt made from 2 x 4 heart redwood was installed with pocket screws on the underside and the legs are attached with steel brackets to the skirt.