I’ll start with the top of the table:
-The dining table top had two sets of sides: the outer sides that are still attached in the picture below, and another set of wood a little further in (you can see the outline of that second set of sides in the picture below). We took off the inner set by using a drill to unscrew the screws, and then we used a hammer to hit the wood off because it was also glued.
-We created a small work space to use when working on the table. We used two saw horses for the base and a leftover piece of MDF for the tabletop. We put our future coffee table top on our makeshift table and sanded it down using 120 grit sandpaper at first and then we finished it off with a 220 grit sandpaper. While we were doing this we wiped down the top with a wet rag. This served 2 purposes: it cleaned off the dust, but it also raised some of the fibers on the table (we lightly sanded down those raised fibers so that when we stained it everything would be flat). We sanded the top and the legs at the same time.
-At this point we had to make a crucial decision: should we leave the sides on the table that it came with, or take them off and make our own? The reason we were debating this is because there was a gap between the top of the table and the side pieces, which screamed “dining table” to us. So, we decided to take them off and make our own new sides (we took them off using a drill and also a hammer to hit off the pieces of wood). We used Pine wood to create the new sides. We measured the length for each side & cut them at 45 degree angles with a miter saw. We left an extra 1/16inch on each piece so that we had room for fitment. We used a disc belt sander to sand down any parts necessary to ensure a perfect fit. As we fit each piece we used wooden clamps to hold the pieces down to the top to make sure everything would stay in place. We also labeled each piece (1, 2, 3, 4) so that when it came time assemble everything it would be easy to know where each piece went.
-We drilled holes into the sides and down into the table top. We wanted to make sure that our screws didn’t break our wood, so when we made the holes we first made a hole smaller than the screw width into the wood. Then we took a bit that was slightly bigger than the screw and drilled into the hole again, but this time only going as far as the side piece. To ensure we didn’t screw too far we used a stopper on the drill bit. We used a countersink for all of the holes that we made. This picture shows the drill holes on each edge and how we used the clamps to hold each piece into place.
-We also created support beams under the top of the table so that it wouldn’t sag if someone sits on it. We used wood to create 3 beams that ran the length of the table, and we created holes for screws for all of these, too. This picture shows our support beams, but it also shows the entire table after we had altered the legs and created the beams for the shelf.
Onto the table legs:
-We sanded them down and wiped them clean. We also took measurements in our living room to determine the height for the table. Once we determined a good height we subtracted the height of the table top and then cut our table legs!
-We needed our table legs to be flush to the outside of the table but also touching the inside top of the table so that we could secure it into place. To do this we used a table saw and created notches into each leg so they could slide into place. This picture shows one of the legs with the notch at the top:
-We then built leg brackets to secure the legs into place. Most dining tables come with a piece that contains a bolt that secures each leg into place. We wanted to do the same for our table so we tried to recreate this. We created a small leg bracket for each leg that laid against the leg and secured it into place using the same bolt that was originally used with the table. You can see two of these in this picture (they are the horizontal beams at the bottom of the two legs):
-At first we weren’t sure if we wanted a shelf on our table, but then we decided it was necessary. We had carried the table upstairs to our living room to see how it would look without a shelf, and that’s when we made the decision to make one! (Don’t mind the mess, I was also working on a sewing project at the time).
-We created the wooden beams at the bottom of the legs for our shelf to sit on. We cut the wood at 90 degree angles to ensure a good fit between each of the table legs.
-To screw the beams into place we created a craig jig to create pocket holes. It’s risky doing pocket holes here because if the screws are too long they’ll create a hole in the other side of the wood, so be careful!
This is what it looked like all assembled together:
Once it was all assembled it was time to glue all the pieces together and really make it secure! We took off one piece at a time, added wood glue, put it back into it’s place and screwed it down. When using wood glue make sure you have a damp rag ready to wipe off any excess glue that seeps out. If you don’t wipe up the extra glue it could make it really hard for the wood to absorb the stain or paint that you’re using.
After we had completed this step and the dry-run to make sure everything fit together, we took the bottom half of the table back off (we needed it to be apart so we could make our shelf and attach it!).
Next it was time to build our shelf!
-We wanted our shelf to have a smooth, seamless look, so we decided to use MDF instead of another type of material. Plus, the MDF was cheaper! We used a circular saw with a metal guide to cut the 2 sides of the shelf, but we used a jig saw to cut out the 4 corners (we only had to cut two sides of the MDF because we made sure to buy a piece that already fit some of our dimensions). We made sure to dry fit the shelf into place and sanded down any edges that didn’t fit smoothly.
-We primed our shelf with Behr stain blocking primer, and then painted it with a white semi-gloss, also by Behr. We used our paint sprayer to do both the primer and paint. We ultimately decided not to use poly on our shelf since we were using a semi-gloss paint. The key is to make sure your paint has enough time to cure before setting things on it (at least one month). You can touch the table and attach it to the shelf within a few days, but the actual CURE time for the paint is much longer.
FINALLY it was time to paint our whole table. And I’ll be the first to say we were incredibly indecisive about what color to paint it. We used the leftover pieces of the table legs to test out the different colors we were thinking about. We tested white wash, grey stain, ebony stain, and a combination of different things together.
We ended up deciding to stain the top and legs using a stain & poly mixture in Weathered Gray I found at Home Depot. We used this same brand when we stained our buffet drawers and we loved it, so we decided to use it on our table, too! You can buy this stain here. Our table doesn’t necessarily look “gray” in our pictures, but it does have a gray hue. If we had wanted it to look more gray we could have applied more coats of the stain, but we really liked it with some of the natural wood look.
Once thing we discovered is that the Pine wood we used to made the sides of the top of the table as well as the shelf beams did NOT stain well. It pretty much looked atrocious. So, we had to sand it down and we decided to paint them the same white as the shelf. Because at this point they were already attached with wood glue and screws we had to use painter’s tape to make sure we didn’t get white paint on the parts we stained gray.
After everything was painted and we waited enough time for our shelf to fully dry, it was time to put it all together! Since the table was pretty heavy we carried it upstairs to our living room and assembled it there. We are finally able to enjoy it and it’s been wonderful having a table to use in the living room!