Building your own table and bench is an awesome idea and great way to save a money and learn something new. I saw a picture of a plank table with these legs and chairs online a few years ago and decided to give it a try, except I wanted more of a driftwood/weathered look for my tabletop. Here’s what I learned when I built it…
LESSONS I LEARNED:
See how the tabletop is curving into a U-shape? This is what happens when you don’t alternate the orientation of your boards. (Storing it in a 120 degree garage for a few months and then driving it up to Alaska in a truck packed to the brim with other furniture doesn’t help either).
If you look at the end grain of your board, you can see that the growth rings curve up or down. So if your first board curves up, you want the next to curve down, then up, then down. I altered the coloring on the picture below so you could see that the grain on every board is curving down. This is NOT what you want to do!
Also, the spacing between boards is big enough that crumbs get stuck all the time and I have to dig them out with a knife. If you have the right saw, you can rip the sides of the boards so they are flat. If you don’t have this ability, I’d recommend working with 1″ boards instead of 2″ boards, then frame it out with 1x2s if you want it to look like it’s a 2″ table.
If you need in-depth instructions for creating the weathered finish, you can find them here. If you already know the basics of staining, dry brushing, etc., keep scrolling.
- Five 2″x8″x6′
- One 1″ x 12″ x 4′ (bench seat)
- Two 2″ x 4″ x 6′ (bench legs – each board will give you a long apron and 2 legs)
- One 1″ x 3″ (trestle on bench and short apron)
STEP 1: SAND BOARDS AND USE WOOD CONDITIONER
I cut my boards down to 5 feet because we have a small dining area. If you want a 6′ table, that’s less cutting for you! However, you’ll want a longer bench, so the supply list will change from a 1″x12″x4′ to a 1″x12″x6′. Sand down every piece.
STEP 2: CONNECT BOARDS WITH A KREG JIG
First, line up your boards on a table or the ground to see how they fit. Make sure to alternate the grain patterns so you don’t end up with a U-shaped table, too! I usually spend quite a few minutes alternating the order of the boards until I get a line-up that fits the best together (because some boards bend and create bigger spaces, so re-ordering them can help you find the best fit). I used 8 pocket holes on each board and screwed all the boards together.
If you don’t have a Kreg Jig, you can get a few 1×2 or 1×3 boards and run them perpendicular to the table, screwing through each board underneath. Similar to what I did with the headboard, which you can find here.
STEP 3: REINFORCE
Wherever I had a board that stuck up higher than the others, I went underneath and screwed on a metal plate to help keep the boards even at that point. This was the first time I worked with 2″ boards and I didn’t realize they were more difficult to build with compared to 1″ boards.
STEP 4: 2 COATS OF RUSTOLEUM WEATHERED GRAY STAIN
Make sure you use a wood conditioner first so your stain doesn’t turn out blotchy.
After I applied 2 coats of stain, I sanded lightly after the stain to let some more of the wood show through.
STEP 5: ATTACH LEGS
The trestle legs on this table were from Ikea for $30 total. Drill holes through the metal and screw the legs into the tabletop.
STEP 6: BUILD THE BENCH
I didn’t use any plans for these. You can base the height of your bench on the height of the chairs you have. This is a 4′ bench.
Once you know how to use a Kreg Jig, you’ll find you can start to build simple pieces without any plans.
Attach the legs to the shorter boards first (do this for both sets of legs), then add the long aprons to connect the two sets of legs. Add the trestle board .
Attach the top. Since there were already so many screws connecting legs and aprons, there wasn’t much room on the shorter boards for more pocket holes (it can be done, I just felt like this way was easier). I used some L-brackets and screws.
Here are some pictures so you can see what’s going on underneath.
STEP 7: DARK WAX
To give the piece more dimension, you can put a coat of dark wax on. Find instructions on how to make your own dark wax here.
It changes the entire look of the wood, and the parts that are sanded down get especially dark.
STEP 8: DRY BRUSH WITH GRAY
Here you can see a spot where I sanded and took too much of the stain off. Some people might like this. For me, it’s too much contrast. You can fix spots like this by dry brushing.
STEP 9: LIGHTLY DRY BRUSH WITH WHITE
Randomly paint white highlights. Rub them in with a cloth or paint over them a few times to blend.
Now you can see how the mix of brown, gray and white blend together to create that weathered look.
And an up close shot of the top of the bench…
Do you have any more questions about the process? Have you built with 2″ boards and have advice to share? Leave a comment below.