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:
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
Stain or Paint
Rustoleum Metallic Flat Soft Iron Spray Paint
Gold Craft Paint
STEP 1: PAINT LEGS AND FEET
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.
STEP 2: CUT AND SAND THE 12″ BOARDS
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.
STEP 3: ARRANGE BOARDS
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.
STEP 4: CUT AND ATTACH THE 1x2s
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.
STEP 5: ATTACH BOARDS TO FOLDING TABLE
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.
STEP 6: FILL HOLES AND CRACKS
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.
STEP 7: STAIN AND/OR PAINT
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.
I used Minwax “Special Walnut” for my first coat of stain.
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.
STEP 8: WAX
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.