Build It

Up-Cycled Folding Table Into a Dining Table

Okay. Here’s a table you can definitely “build” because the structure is already there for you. I saw some banquet folding tables in the free section on Craigslist and my husband and I went to get them to use for the massive garage sale we’ll be having in a few months when we sell EVERYTHING (minus a couple hundred pounds that will be shipped in our cars via boat). I’m actually pretty stoked to start from scratch. Yay for forced decluttering! The Konmari lady will be happy.

Anyways, I kept thinking about these tables and wondering if there was a way to make one dining-room-worthy. Finally I decided to just go for it. My husband on the way to Lowe’s: “Aren’t those supposed to be for the garage sale?” Me: “Yes, but I have a vision for them now, so…no.” So he dropped me off and went to drive my car through the carwash while I shopped, which was awesome.

This table  has been featured on:

I was featured on Remodelaholic

Up to Date Interiors

Creative K KIds

My Pinterventures


This is what you start with. Just a regular old brown folding table.


3 – 1″ x 12″ x 8′ Boards

3 – 1″ x 2″ x 8′ Boards

Liquid Nails


Stain or Paint

Rustoleum Metallic Flat Soft Iron Spray Paint

Gold Craft Paint



Use Rustoleum Metallic Flat Soft Iron to spray paint the legs (2 coats).

Pull the caps off the legs and paint with whatever color you’d like. I used DecoArt “Venetian Gold” for the base (a coppery color), then dabbed some DecoArt “Glorious Gold” (a yellow-gold) on top of that to give it some nice color variation.



The table itself is 6 feet and the boards were 8 feet. I you want an 8-foot table, it will be easier because you don’t have to cut your boards. I wanted a 7-foot table, so I cut a foot off each board. Sand and wipe down.

If you’re just doing a project or two or something small, you can sand by hand. If you plan on building or flipping furniture, or decide to do a big project like kitchen cabinets, I’d definitely recommend getting a good sander. I’ve had a Rigid for over a decade and it’s still going strong. Along with my Kreg Jig , it’s my “must have” tool.





Every time I build a table I always switch the order of the boards around until I find the arrangement that creates the smallest gap between each board. Once you know the order, flip them upside-down.

(If you have a Kreg Jig, you can attach the 3 boards first, then flip).

If you don’t have a Kreg Jig…get one. I call it my “can’t live without it” tool. When I got mine I built a table with it, sold the table, and made back the money I spent on the Kreg plus some profit.


If you don’t build much and just want to do a project or two, you can always go for the mini Kreg, which is only $19.




Cut one end at a 45-degree angle and lay it on the 12″ board.

At the other end, make a mark where the end of your board is, then cut a 45-degree angle there. The cuts on each board will NOT be parallel to each other (so all your 1×2 boards will look like long trapezoids).

Cut the shorter ends with 45-degree angles on each side and check to make sure everything fits correctly. I always cut a little longer than I think I need to, check it, then cut more if necessary.

Once you make sure they all fit, clamp (we used 3 clamps on each side), drill holes and screw in the 2 longer pieces. If you have a drill bit that can countersink, use that.

Attach the shorter sides using the same method.



Keep the boards upside-down, flip the folding table over and place it on the boards. Measure from all sides to make sure it’s centered, then take a pencil and trace around the table so you know exactly where you want it to end up.

Take the folding table back of and apply Liquid Nails in a zigzag pattern inside the rectangle you traced on the wood. Put the folding table back on and use the pencil line as a guide for where it should go. Place weights, heavy cans, or whatever you have   on it. I asked my kids who wanted to sleep on it so there could be even more weight on the table and they all yelled, “ME!” I was kidding, but grateful to have children willing to have a horrible night’s sleep and take one for the team for the sake of one of my projects.  I’m sure if I had actually let them do it, it would’ve lasted all of 5 minutes…just until they realized how uncomfortable it was.

Let dry for a few hours.

Drill holes around the perimeter of the table, and a line of holes down the very middle, then add the screws. Now all 3 boards are attached with Liquid Nails and with screws, so this thing is totally solid. I let it sit overnight and half the next day before we flipped it over just to make sure the glue was completely dry.



The last table I built got crumbs in the cracks between the planks ALL THE TIME. I had to dig them out with a knife on a regular basis. Not fun. This time, I filled all the cracks between planks with some wood filler to prevent this from happening. I also filled the cracks between the 12″ boards and the 1x2s.

Sand it down.



For stains, you can use a piece of an old t-shirt or a rag and just wipe it on. I use thin coats and smooth it out (so it’s all uniform and there are no blotchy spots) so I don’t have to go back after to remove excess stain.

Always, always, always use a wood conditioner first if you’re going to stain so your stain doesn’t end up blotchy. Just follow the instructions on the can.

1 coat wood conditioner

I used Minwax “Special Walnut” for my first coat of stain.

Minwax Special Walnut

Because I didn’t have that much wood filler left, I first filled some of the bigger spaces with caulking, then topped that with wood filler (because it’s stainable). The residue on the table left spaces on either side of each crack where the stain wouldn’t take…

Since you won’t do this, you can just put on another coat of stain or two and you are done. If you’re interested in how to fix a mistake like this (where stain just won’t take evenly for one reason or another), keep reading.

I took some brown craft paint and mixed it with white satin paint and watered it down. I brush it on the whole table, wiping with a wet paper towel after each section I painted to blend. I really focused on those white lines by the cracks so I could make sure to cover them.

To give extra dimension, I then took some gray craft paint, mixed with the white and some water, and did the same thing.

I let it dry overnight, then put another coat of Special Walnut. This really helped to blend the colors nicely and give a more uniform finish.


After the stain is completely dry (follow dry times on the can) you can add a coat of wax, applying it with a rag and rubbing it over the entire project. I usually do 2-3 coats.

If you’d like an even darker finish, you can make your own dark wax and it will give you a finish that has some more brown in it.

You’re done!






    1. Thanks:) My husband volunteered to do all the extra screws because we’re selling it and want to make sure it’s as solid as possible, so we did it as a “just in case” kind-of thing, but I’m sure the Liquid Nails alone could do the job.

      I just moved the table around a bit today and because when I lift at the short ends I’m only holding the wood I added, I’d definitely say to add screws on the shorter ends to make sure it doesn’t come apart from moving the table around. If you’re not planning on moving it much, it may not matter.

  1. Ah when hubby and I moved into our ‘new’ home 22 years ago, this is very similar to what I did to save money on a dining room table! I already had ladderback chairs and placed them around the table, and I was happy. I think seeing you painted the legs, will give me something to do this weekend, as I like the look. =)

  2. Love this idea! You make a great point about the wood filler and crumbs getting into grooves/cracks- this is our current problem. Until I fix it properly, I’ve placed a clear, plastic table cover on the table, which also keeps all the arts and crafts (glue and paint) out of the grooves. This is definitely a great project to do!!

  3. Sara, this looks great! I wish I’d thought to do this when we lived with an old folding table for a dining room table for several years back in our first apartment. Thanks for sharing #HomeMattersParty

    1. Thanks Emily! Oh, first apartment memories…your comment made me think back to all the hand-me-down furniture we started out with. Back then I had no idea how to paint, stain, build, etc. We were surrounded in 80s oak and there was nothing we could do about it, haha!

  4. My jaw dropped when I saw the cost of the inspiration for your table. Your project is ever bit as nice. Its so modern and fresh looking.

    I am really enjoying co-hosting the #HomeMattersParty with you. I pinned your white cabinets last week as well. Great blog.

  5. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I had this same idea for an 8-foot table just like this we have in our basement. We are the host house and often have up to 12 people hanging out for game or movie nights, dinners, parties, etc. I have been trying to explain to my handy husband what I wanted the table to look like so it would fit into our newly redecorated basement and the whole modern industrial, sort of farmhouse look. THIS IS PERFECT!! Now I can show him the visual and he’ll see how easy it will be to update the table. Then I can add up to 10 chairs like I’ve been wanting to do. I had initially thought it would be nice to add wood around the table legs somehow to sort of bulk it up or give it more of a solid wood look, but painting the legs works great and my husband will like the fact that it will cost less (especially since we already have the paint supplies needed for the legs). Thanks again! It’s so nice to see my vision become a reality.

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