With a few simple materials and tools you could build your own beautiful harvest table this weekend. Choose a style you like, build it the right size to fit your space and get creative with stains and distressing techniques. Here’s how Lisa did it.
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.
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.”
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
- 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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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!