Walnut Dining Table
My mom had an old dining room table that was somewhat falling apart, so I designed and built her a new one.
She came down to visit and we went to the sawmill to pick out some wood. I had a rough design in mind, and she had measured her existing table to estimate the size she wanted the new one to be.
We got a lot of pretty wide boards, which I first cut to length before trying to remove some of the twist in the wood. These were too wide for my jointer, so I hand planed one side until it laid flat on my workbench. From that point I ran it through the thickness planer.
That was a lot of manual work, phew. Next I planed them all to the same thickness and prep’d them for gluing. I bought a biscuit jointer to help with alignment for this step, as I didn’t have a great setup for clamping such a big surface.
With that in place, I got to work on the legs. I first tried to make the legs out of offcuts from the table, but it turned out that once it was all together it just wasn’t rigid enough. The walnut was 3/4” in some places, which had enough give that with weight on it the whole table would wobble pretty badly. Back to the sawmill, I grabbed some thicker walnut. Then I remade the entire base.
I aimed for a “spidery” aesthetic, which meant a lot of weird angles and a slight taper down the length of the leg. The neat thing about this design is that when you’re sitting at the table, the legs/base support generally are out of the way. Unless the table is super crowded, you shouldn’t ever hit your knees on it.
Next came a lot of sanding and finishing. After removing much of the glue with a chisel, I went at it with a disc sander. I did 80 until everything was completely flat (though it was already pretty close), then did 120 then 180. Before the final sanding pass, I lighly wet the top and waited for it to dry. This made the wood fibers swell, and makes the finish look even smoother when it goes on.
Then I wiped it down with mineral spirits and put on a few coats of water based polyurethane.
I did the same thing for the base, too.
Then came the last step, marrying the two halves:
Then finally it was done! My mom came down to visit and pick up the table, then swapped it out when she got home. What a difference!