Farmhouse table on grass with table setting

Build a Rustic Farmhouse Harvest Table

Lisa loves woodworking projects. She especially likes the fact that every project she completes is completely unique to her style; and no two projects will ever be 100% alike. After completing her DIY headboard, Lisa wanted to try her hand at a project that was a bit more advanced: a rustic farmhouse harvest dining table.

Dining table on grass in front of fence
Lisa chose a V-shaped truss style for her table.

Finding a Table Pattern

“I started looking for patterns online,” she says. “Pinterest was a big help. I also Googled ‘rustic farm table’ and ‘DIY farm table’ and found a ton of patterns online.”

With so many options to choose from, she had to modify the styles of a few tables she liked but she based most of her design on this V-shaped truss beam pattern. There are more detailed instructions and measurements on that site if you also like this table style.

To begin, Lisa measured the dimensions of her dining room. She wanted to be sure there was enough room for the table, as well as comfortably seat four chairs with space around. “I saw some patterns that used 2×10” lumber,” she recalls, “but it all depends on how big you want your table. The V-shaped plan I found online also called for an extra two feet in length but it would have been too big for my dining room. If you’re good with your math calculations you can figure out how to resize it pretty easily.”

Choosing Your Lumber

As for the type of lumber, Lisa says: “I used rough cut 4×4” lumber for the table base and milled (smooth) 2×8” lumber for the tabletop. The table base is rough cut wood because I wanted it to have character and look like a real pioneer farm table. The tabletop is milled because I wanted it nice and smooth. This allowed me to control the amount of distressing and reduce the amount of cracks and holes that food and bacteria could get stuck in.”

Table base with rough edge
The table base was made using rough cut lumber.

Getting Your Supplies

Once she was confident with her measurements, Lisa went to The Home Depot to pick up her materials:

  • 2×8” milled (smooth surface) lumber for the tabletop
  • Countersinking wood screws
  • Minwax wood stain in Walnut (medium brown)
  • Minwax polyurethane clear coat in Satin (matte)

In addition, she also borrowed or obtained the following:

  • Rough cut 4×4” lumber for the table base (from a lumber yard)
  • Power sander with coarse sandpaper
  • Sheets of fine sandpaper
  • Kreg Jig Pocket Hole system
  • Circular saw (for basic cuts)
  • Mitre saw (for angled cuts)
  • Power drill with appropriate bits
  • Rags
  • Chains/nails for distressing

Cutting the Wood

She began her project by making cuts in the lumber based on her measurements. Some cuts required the use of the circular saw (for straight cuts) and some the mitre saw (for angled cuts). She then used fine sandpaper to sand the 4×4 pieces just enough to remove slivers and loose pieces.

Table edge with tree rings
Lisa used finer sandpaper on the table base to maintain a rustic look.

Distressing the Wood + Staining

Lisa then put her 2×8 lumber aside to distress the boards. “For the distressing,” she says, “I used a large metal link chain and beat it against the wood to get grooves of different lengths and depths. I also used a board with a nail sticking out to make some wormy pinholes, but not too many. I used a similar technique as the headboard that I made. I’ve also seen some people online who used the bottoms of beer bottles (the circle with the bumps) to pound the wood to make it look like drinking glass water stains. However, I chose not to do this because I was afraid the bottle might break in my hand,” she laughs.

Harvest table top with distressed wood
A view of the harvest table top showing the distress marks and sanded edges. The stain brings out the beauty and charm of the wood by deepening the colour of the wood grain and marks.

For the table base (4×4 lumber), Lisa did not distress the pieces because the rough cut wood already had the character she wanted. She applied the Minwax wood stain (in Walnut colour) using old rags to both the tabletop and table base wood. “I only did one coat of stain to keep it lighter in colour,” she says, “but some people like to do two or three coats to make it a bit darker.”

After the stain was dry, Lisa used coarse sandpaper on a power sander to sand the tabletop pieces: “I really got into it with the sander and did all my edges so it would look like a worn and heavily used table.”

Rustic-looking table top with marks and holes
Lisa used a metal chain and a wooden spindle with a nail to bang against the table top wood for a worn, rustic look. She also used a power sander to smooth out the edges.

Assembling the Table

Next, Lisa was ready to assemble her table. She measured the locations of where her screws would go. She chose to drill pocket holes in her lumber to hide the screws. “I wanted the screws to all be countersunk, which is hidden or sunk into the lumber,” she says. “I got a Kreg Jig pocket hole kit and it’s basically a blue device that you clamp onto the wood and it comes with its own drill bit. It allows you to pre-drill holes on an angle so you can insert your screws into the holes so they’re hidden. It saves a lot of time messing around with screwing it together and it’s not distracting seeing screws everywhere when you are finished.”

Kreg Jig Pocket Hole tool box and tool on top of harvest table
Lisa obtained a Kreg Jig tool kit to drill pocket holes in the wood. She then inserted screws into the holes and screwed the table pieces together. This makes your joints look cleaner and hides the screws.
Wooden table joint showing pocket holes drilled using Kreg Jig tool
Pocket holes Lisa drilled into the wood using the Kreg Jig tool to fasten her table together. The screws are hidden and the joints are strong. You can fill the holes with wooden plugs afterwards if you choose.

Lisa also used the same technique for the tabletop: “I drilled pocket holes underneath the tabletop pieces to fasten them together. There’s a hole every 12” with a screw in it. I screwed the middle pieces together first then added the two end pieces.”

A view underneath the harvest table showing the pocket holes drilled using the Kreg Jig tool
Lisa used the Kreg Jig tool to drill pocket holes underneath the table top to fasten the abutting pieces together.

Final Touches

Once her table was finally assembled, she applied a polyurethane clear coat only to the tabletop boards. “I picked a matte (satin) finish for the clear coat so that it wouldn’t look like a brand new table,” she says. “It’s recommended to do several coats if the table will be outside or exposed to any elements. Since this was an indoor table, I just wanted one coat to cover the pin holes so I could easily wipe it clean.”

Rustic table with plates, silverware and florals
Whatever your style is, you can build your table and stain it to fit your decor. Lisa chose a medium brown colour, but you could also stain it a dark brown, light brown, grey or even a solid colour.

Once the clear coat was dry, Lisa’s table was finished. Looking back on her project, Lisa feels lighthearted about the space she had to work in. “I didn’t have a workshop or a garage,” she says, “I was using my own dining room so I had to work on my table at different times.” Despite this, she says: “If someone wanted to, they could complete it in a weekend. The sheer size of the project, however, needs a larger space to work in. It’s not a birdhouse, it’s a table. One of the trickiest things for me was maneuvering the wood and working around the small space that I had. I had to keep taking it outside to make cuts, sand it and stain it; but I ended up assembling it inside my house.”

Patch the springer spaniel in front of the harvest table outside in the grass
Patch loves Lisa’s table 🙂

Lisa’s Advice

Lisa’s final words for someone who wants to try this at home: “Don’t stress when you are working on this. It’s meant to be a fun project so have fun with it! Also, while it is a more advanced project to undertake, if you have someone who can help you and advise you on measurements, what to buy and how to use the tools, you’ll do just fine.”

Sunshine and shadows on a rustic farmhouse harvest table
Build a beautiful rustic farmhouse harvest table that you can be proud of and enjoy in the company of friends and family.

Get in Touch

Are you inspired by Lisa’s project and want to get in touch? You can reach her via email or leave a comment below. Have you built a table and have advice for others? Tell us in the comments!