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Turning back to wood after the tie-dye fiasco we had much better success. My niece will be in town Labor Day weekend and for that special event I decided to unveil the new backyard to the entire family. The only small problem with this is that the patio isn’t finished. I still needed a table and more chairs. This is a bbq event and it’d be nice for the family not to have to sit in the hot gravel. I also had wanted to build a cabinet around an existing old table, and a counter top for meal prep by the grill. If all John and I had to do every day was dink with the patio all these things might get done in spite of the Arizona desert summer. Unfortunately, John doesn’t get enough time off, and it’s way too much for one old woman in this heat. Best we’re going to do is the table and more chairs. The rest will have to wait until the temps dip back down into the low 90s and preferably the 70s.

We decided to tackle the table first. I’ve gotten so good with the chairs that I can whip out two a day by myself, even with frequent breaks to rest my back and hips. The table is too big a project for two hands and we wanted to succeed at something new to get that curtain out of our systems.

2x4s make GREAT, heavy duty, stand up to the test of time, furniture and they’re the cheapest wood buy out there. However, here are a couple of things we’ve learned about them: 1. They’re cheap because they are generally used where no one can see them and it doesn’t matter if they’re warped, twisted or bowed. You have to lay them down flat and be sure they stay flat on on four sides.  You can actually go through a whole stack of 2x4s at Home Depot in order to find twelve straight boards. 2. Once you’ve checked them thoroughly for chewed up spots, warps, twists and bows, you need to use them within a very few days or they will get warped, twisted or bowed even in the dry desert.

The plan for this table is fairly true except that we found the overhang to be less than 2 inches on all sides of the table top. You can find the shopping list, cut list and instructions here: http://www.morelikehome.net/2012/10/day-18-build-homestead-dining-table.html


The table looked like a large, fairly complex project, until we saw the cuts laid out on the ground like this. These are the boards, cut and ready for an 8 foot table. Seriously. That’s it. There are ten 8′ boards still in the garage, but if you get 8′ 2x4s you don’t need to cut them.

Because this table will be painted (I’m almost as sick of stain and urethane as I am of dye.), I was not going to waste time with a ton of pocket holes. However, if you prefer staining pocket holes are your best bet so you don’t have to worry about screw heads showing everywhere.

We began with a basic frame to hold the table top. Just a big rectangle with the side boards attached to the ends of the front and back boards.


Into this outer frame, we added 4 support boards.

diningtableframefinishedThe plan for this table calls for two legs at each corner. This adds to the stability when you find a team of percherons to drag this massive table from one place on the patio to another because it’s not about lifting it, and it also adds a bit of architectural interest to a simple design. Because the extra set of legs attach to the table top (this time we did use pocket holes) and to the leg support board, we added them to the frame last.

diningtablelegsOnce we attached the leg support board and the stretcher, we could attach the second set of legs, and all but the table top was done.

diningtablelegsstretcherThis shot of the table top part of the build is interesting in a couple of ways. 1. Like duct tape, baling twine has a billion uses around here. In this instance, it is being used as a simple twist style clamp to hold the boards together at each end so they could easily be screwed into the frame, and also because we waited too long to use these boards and a couple of them became slightly bowed to the side. This straightened them right up and kept them from moving while the boards were attached. 2. That legitimate store bought clamp you see on the left was used to tame the boards that were twisted and warped when we left them in the garage for a couple of weeks after purchase. Because there was little room for the boards to attach at the outer edge of the table top, we did drill pocket holes about every 15 inches so that the boards could be attached not just to the frame, but to the adjacent boards as well.


Several views of the finished table. Once the chairs are completed all the wood furniture will be sent to the barn where we will learn how to use the paint sprayer.

patiodiningtablefinishedpatiodiningtablefinished3patiodiningtablefinished4We got a late start on this table which added to the heat exhaustion problems. Because apparently aliens have developed an insatiable taste for 2 1/2″ screws, John had to run to town for a bucket load and we didn’t start cutting until a little past noon. The patio temperature had us both running and dunking in the pool every time our clothes dried out which was about every 20-30 minutes. I personally guzzled 3 liters of water and a gigantic fountain diet coke in 4 hours and still got a heat headache. In spite of plastering spf 80 sunscreen on my skin, I still managed to burn red, or I guess it could have been bake red. But, in spite of the heat we managed to get this table done from cutting to ready to paint in a little less than 5 hours. That’s how simple it was.